The Election and the Future
Politicians won’t change until they’re forced to. Only a more demanding electorate and more responsible elites can compel them.
In addition we support the kind of open primaries that have been implemented in California and will be on the ballot in Arizona. Open primaries reduce the impact of fringe ideologues and would be even better if they were combined with preference voting. They are no panacea, but they show promise in encouraging the candidacies of more mainstream lawmakers, and protecting incumbents threatened with primary battles if they do not hew to ideological orthodoxy.
In the short run, what can voters do? We are not in the business of partisanship, of recommending one party over another. But voters can use a different screen: Which candidates are problem solvers, and which ones will continue to act reflexively to obstruct compromise and constructive policy action? Which candidates boast that they are not politicians—meaning they don’t understand the value of institutions and the need to build coalitions to solve problems, and that they see the world in simplistic black-and-white terms? After applying these tests, reward the problem-solving politicians, and punish the obstructionist purists. That would be a good start.
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