The Top Two Primary


Amid all the histrionics regarding the Supreme Court’s decisions this week, a little-noticed decision may have the greatest impact upon our democracy. The decision affirmed the people’s right to regulate the rules surrounding elections instead of just state legislatures who naturally wish to keep themselves and their Party in power.

This innovation requires candidates to compete among the entire electorate instead of pandering to their base, and it results in more moderate results instead of the polarization occurring right now.

The reason the decision could create such a transformative effect revolves around an innovation called “top two” primaries. In a top two primary, all candidates of all parties compete together, and instead of one Democrat versus one Republican facing off in November, the two candidates with the highest totals among all the parties participate.

Since the Party structures would inevitably oppose this innovation — it makes them obsolete — only the people as a whole could demand this change. And they have done so, instituting top two primaries in California and Washington.

More moderate elected officials would be willing to compromise with each other instead of mouthing off across a partisan divide. And more bipartisan votes would lead to something getting done instead of the paralysis we are facing today.