Why America needs open primaries
The issues facing Arizona are many:
- we are dead last in the nation in commitment to and quality of education;
- we have citizens, from veterans to working families, unable to access quality health care;
- we need to make critical decisions now about the future of our water supply;
And these issues are on top of the many issues facing our nation, including:
- a $17 trillion debt that threatens to undermine the future for our children and grandchildren;
- a lack of comprehensive immigration reform.
With all of these issues on the agenda for our elected officials, you would think they must be working hard to find solutions and respond to the concerns of all citizens. Yet that is not what’s happening. We have a broken political system, which leads to dysfunctioning and even completely non-functioning government.
And the people know it:
- 89% of Americans believe that Congress is broken and needs repaired; and
- 90% of Arizonans believe their state elected officials do not represent them.
Clearly, the system is not working for the people.
One major cause is the role of political parties. Today, political parties, which are increasingly representing a narrow base of special interests, not only influence the people elected to office, but control the rules of those very elections. Through gerrymandering, convoluted election laws and voter suppression, partisan elected officials are trying to ensure that they have to be accountable to a smaller and smaller segment of the population.
In short, political parties are getting in the way of holding elected officials accountable to all the people they represent.
And once again, the people know it:
- People are registering in droves as independents, refusing to affiliate with a political party.
- In Arizona today, independents are 36% of all registered voters – more than are registered as either Republicans or Democrats. And this number keeps growing.
To summarize the picture:
- People elected to office are responding to the incentives offered by the parties, which drives them to answer only to the special interests who control the parties, and
- The people who elect those people to office, seeing that these elected officials do not represent them any longer, are turning away from the parties and registering as independents.
How do we change this? How do we make our elected officials more accountable to all of us?
The answer: change the incentives
Change the elections to ensure that:
- Every elected official must answer to every voter in every election, not just to the small group of partisans who currently control the process.
- Every voter is treated equally, having the same choices and following the same rules as every other voter.
- Political parties still have a constitutionally protected role to allow citizens of like minds to organize, but simply are not allowed to write the rules in a way that puts their interests ahead of the people’s.
Elections which ensure these three principles are elections which provide incentives to elected officials to speak to and listen to all the voters they represent. They are elections which can diminish the factionalism and divisiveness created by the current partisan system. This is exactly what our first President, George Washington, urged us to do when he wrote in his Farewell Address:
“The common mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
By joining our movement for election reform, you are helping the people of Arizona change our election system to heed George Washington’s advice, and form a government which is both fair for all citizens and attracts elected officials who represent all of us, who then address issues and craft solutions to problems which work for all Arizonans.