This week, New York Senator Charles Schumer (a Democrat), came out in favor of the “Top Two Primary” system (I will just refer to it as Top 2 going forward) such as the one used in California. Given the pairing of Schumer AND California you would think this would be something that gives Democrats a political edge….and you would be wrong. The fact is that a Top 2 is system that gives the people the political edge. You know, something that politics in this nation is supposed to do.
In most states and districts, a Top 2 would probably work out the same way that the current primary does – one Democrat, one Republican. However, there are several places in the nation where this would have an impact. It would force all legislators to once again be accountable to their constituents. No longer could they win a primary and then skate to re-election in districts and/or states that are exceedingly conservative or liberal. They would have to fight all the way until election day, making their plea to be elected to all the voters, not just a select handful.
Why haven’t more states adopted this? Well, let me answer that question with another question – what impetus does either party and thus the politicians have to support such a measure? Well, we could start demanding it for one. Just because the way we have is what we have always had doesn’t mean it can’t change for the better. What are the party big wigs going to say – change is bad? If that is the case then I hope they don’t drive cars, have HDTVs or computers.
Unlike President Obama’s 2008 campaign, this is hope and change we can all believe in and should support.
Races like those in Mississippi, where Senator Thad Cochran battled it out in a primary and then a runoff, only to have the victor presumably coast to victory in the general election would be no more. Both candidates would have to make their pitch to the entire populace to see who is truly representative of the state’s constituency. Or what about a district in Manhattan or Chicago where a Democrat can just waltz through his or her race, never worried about a Republican – if there was a Democrat on the ballot then at least the Independents and few Republicans would be able to have a say in who represents them.
The United States is supposed to be a country where the people’s voice matters. Where the very document we base our entire government on starts out “We the people…”. One of my favorite quotes is the line from the Gettysburg Address, where Abraham Lincoln states that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth“. Our government has continually strayed from this tenant and it is time that the people took their power back.