An example of a state with both open primaries and ranked-choice voting is Alaska. Alaskans regardless of party affiliation vote in the primary election. The top four candidates then go on to the general election where voters then rank their favorites to determine who ends up winning a majority. It is likely this election reform that made it possible for Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in Alaska to feel she could vote to impeach Trump without losing her next election. Because she knew she was representing all of Alaska instead of just the loudest most extreme part of the population, she faced a different kind of choice than her many colleagues in closed-primary plurality-election states.
These two changes are not the only changes we need to make, but they would go very far to greatly improve our democracy and to pull us back from our extremes. Gerrymandering is definitely another massive problem, although when ranked-choice voting is combined with multi-winner districts as proposed in the Fair Representation Act
, that can be solved with RCV too.
The trillion dollar question is what’s the best way of winning these reforms? Andrew Yang’s solution is his founding of the Forward Party
. This new third party will be focused on winning these key reforms across the country at the state and local levels. By going the third party route, he hopes to reduce the possibility of these reforms being seen as partisan. A third party that manages to mobilize independents would also serve to apply more pressure for the main two parties to implement RCV so as to prevent the spoiler effect from potentially making them lose elections they otherwise would have won if RCV were in place.
Haven’t third parties been tried over and over again? Yes, but a key difference here is being fully inclusive of all parties. People don’t need to register as a member of the Forward Party. They can be a Forward Democrat, or Forward Republican, or Forward Green, or Forward Libertarian, or Forward independent, etc. What matters most is support for the six core values of the party: ranked-choice voting plus open primaries, universal basic income, human-centered capitalism, fact-based governance, effective and modern government, and grace and tolerance. Candidates who adopt these values can be in any party, and voters who embrace these values will be encouraged to vote for those candidates, and to win the reforms necessary to enable those candidates to win and exist within a functioning government with better aligned incentives.
I’m already seeing people freaking out about the possibility of a third party leading to Republicans winning even more races, and this raises two questions. Why aren’t any Democrats thinking that a strong independent party could actually benefit them by taking votes from centrist Republicans who may feel no longer at home in today’s Republican party? Also, if the spoiler effect is truly going to destroy the country, why isn’t the solution to immediately pass ranked-choice voting? Why is the standard solution to instead shit on all third parties and blame them for everything?
Seems to me that the blame for every election spoiled by a third party lies square at the feet of the two main parties who simply have chosen to maintain the spoiler effect.
Enough is enough. It’s time to end the spoiler effect so that third party candidates can actually win and also no longer lead to the worst candidates winning. And it’s time to open up all primaries so that we all have the opportunity to decide who are the best candidates to choose among in general elections.
It’s also time to end gerrymandering, and time to automatically register everyone to vote, and time to reduce the influence of large donors, and time to limit the amount of time members of Congress can remain there. It’s time for so many things, because it’s past time to save our representative democracy. Everything depends on our ability to make government actually work for all of us instead of only some of us.
Everything depends on our choosing that of all directions to go, the one that truly matters most to the future of our entire civilization, is FORWARD.
If this all sounds like something you can get behind, then check out the Forward Party website, look over the entire platform as it exists so far, sign up for the mailing list, and even consider volunteering. Let’s save our democracy!