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Open Primaries?

May 20, 2011

The Florida legislature has wrapped up for this session, which was extremely partisan.  Tampasphere has no party affiliation – it is issue based.  There is no monopoly on good ideas.  The concern is that politics and government – national, state, and local – seems inexorably to become more partisan and less effective every year.

One reason for this, we believe, is the closed primary system, which leads to a tendency to have “the base” – the most partisan voters – pick candidates.  It is well-known that many candidates play to “the base” in primaries and then try to move to the center for the general election.  To us, this seems like a recipe for les effective government – as elected officials always have to worry about “the base” rather than the entire population they represent.

Though imperfect, open primaries would force candidates to speak to the entire electorate from the beginning.  Obviously, there is a risk of voters trying to sabotage the other party by picking the most extreme candidate in the other party.  Frankly, that does not seem to be that big a risk – there are not too many examples (though this was really odd.)  The present system already has a tendency to pick very partisan candidates. (The Economist had an interesting discussion of California.).  It seems more logical that open primaries would generally represent to will of the electorate better.  Just a thought – we are open to other suggestions.

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