Op-Ed: We Need A Primary for Independents

Greg Orman

June 14, 2018

Primary season is upon us again. With each passing Tuesday, the major parties across the country are selecting more combatants for November’s electoral battle. By mid-August, thousands of Republicans and Democrats will have been anointed to oppose the other team in the general election.

But despite the countless number of names on the ballot, it’s a process that excludes a large percentage of voters and is the principal driver of a system of government that no longer serves the American people. The broken primary system is allowing the greatness of America to slip away.

It’s no secret that government appears to represent the interests of two increasingly unrepresentative political parties. But few political commentators spend time discussing why the parties have become so unrepresentative or how we can improve the system to be more accountable to the people.

During the primary, we pay the closest attention to the Democrats and Republicans. This is because the nominees of the major parties, in the eyes of the media, the voters, and certainly the political class, immediately become the most viable candidates in the general election. Independent and third party candidates are dismissed by political pundits as spoilers unless they have an ungodly amount of money or celebrity personality.

But, in America, our representative republic was always supposed to serve the people, not a class of people nor members of a political party.

  • Today, nearly half of the American electorate consider themselves independent of both political parties.

  • In many states, like my home state of Kansas, you cannot vote in a primary election unless you are a member of a major political party. These are knownas “closed” primaries and exist across 14 states.

  • In Kansas, more than 30% of voters have actually registered to vote as independents, thereby forfeiting their “right” to participate in a primary.

  • Primary election turnout is as low as 10% in many states.

  • In nearly 90% of the congressional districts around the country, the districts have been rigged by the ruling party through gerrymandering so the general election is less a competition than a coronation of the ruling parties’ chosen candidate in the primary.

  • Primary elections are funded by taxpayers and administered by public officials.

So, who are our representatives really accountable to? The people... Continue Reading.