Primary Solutions

It has been a bad week for the Republican party.  They saddled several states with unelectable candidates, Kansas demonstrated the consequences of the anti-abortion movement, Alex Jones turned out to be an idiot in a very public way, the Democrats are actually passing legislation, and it came to light that members of the former Trump administration engaged in electronic coverups worthy of Richard Nixon and Watergate.

I am a Democrat, so this should make me happy, but it doesn’t.  I want a real Republican party to go toe to toe with Democrats, to put some constraints on their excesses, so the job doesn’t depend on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.  In that spirit, I would like to offer some constructive suggestions for rebuilding a Republican Party as my party’s loyal opposition, as the Brits would say. I think the answer lies in primaries.

The problem with primaries is that they often give the nomination to the leading candidate, even if that person doesn’t have a majority.  That’s particularly dangerous for Republicans because about 30 percent of the voters (all Republican) are hard core conspiracy theorist stolen election diehards. They are a majority of Republicans (whose numbers are shrinking) but a minority of the electorate, so the more extreme candidates win the primary but are likely to lose the general election.  They also create a danger that some of them will actually been elected. think Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Green and Madison Cawthorne.

.You know all this.  What could the Republicans do to change this situation, releasing them from the “Trumpylonan” captivity? There are several changes in primaries that might help the mainstream, sane Republicans recapture their party.  The first is a jungle primary, with several variants, which is used in California, Alaska, Louisiana, and Washington (state).. According to politicaldictionary.com, “A jungle primary is an election in which all candidates for elected office run in the same primary regardless of political party. It’s also known as the ‘blanket primary,’ ‘open primary’ or ‘top two primary,’ since the top two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the next round, similar to a runoff election. However, in a jungle primary there is no separate nomination process for candidates before the first round, and parties cannot narrow the field. In fact, it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same party could advance to the second round. For this reason, it’s not surprising that the parties haven’t rushed to embrace jungle primaries because they ultimately reduce their power. This voting system theoretically will elect more moderate candidates, as the victor may appeal to voters of both parties in a two-party system.” BTW, Alaska has four candidates rather than two on the November ballot.

It was the jungle primary in the state of Washington that saved two moderate Republican members of Congress who had voted for impeachment, and the jungle primary in Alaska which will make it more difficult for Sarah Palin to get the nomination to replace Lisa Murkowski in the Senate.

The second option is one actually used in South Carolina and Georgia, among other states.  First, it’s an open primary, so regardless of your party preference or affiliation, one can vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary, but not both. I frequently choose the Republican primary because there are more contested races, and it enables me to choose the Republican I could most easily live with if elected.  In both South Carolina and Georgia, a candidate must get a majority to win, or face a runoff. This isn’t quite as satisfying as the jungle primary, but it does tend to produce more moderate candidates.

The third choice is about presidential elections, and it also involves primaries.  Democrats generally allocate delegates to the party’s nominating convention from a state based on the share of votes received.  Republican Presidental primaries award all the votes to the top candidate. Under Dmeocartic rules, former president Trump would only get 35 percent of the convention delegates from a state where he received 35 percent of the vote, which happened often on the road to the White House in 2016. Winner take all primaries get to the decision faster, but they miss a lot of useful information along the way.

I offer these suggestions to the sane remnant of the Republican party because I would dearly like to see that party resurface.  Democracy would be better off if we allowed broader participation in the nominating process to reflect the concerns of a larger share of voters. Jungle primaries, open primaries with runoffs, and presidential delegate allocation based on vote percentages are three significant improvements that both parties should consider.

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