Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
When Americans are unhappy in an election year, they often adopt a ‘throw-the-bums-out’ attitude toward incumbent politicians. In 2008, the Democrats seized control of all three branches of government. In 2010, Americans threw dozens of Democratic ‘bums’ out, and many Tea Party-leaning Republicans went to Congress for the first time. In 2012, Congress’ nearly complete gridlock and 9 percent approval rating hint at another throw-the-bums-out year.
But does this cycle of alternatively sweeping Democrats or Republicans out of office really accomplish anything? Are voters getting what they want from government or just crossing their fingers and venting their anger at the ballot box?
Under our current electoral system, political parties have a greater voice in government than voters, and that has contributed to “partisan sniping and gridlock,” according to Open Elections/Open Government (OE/OG), a bipartisan group of Arizonans who are working to place an open primaries initiative on the November 2012 ballot.
Disaffected voters believe elected officials are beholden not to them but to political party bosses and lobbyists, and this belief leads voters to lose faith in government, the OE/OG website claims.
Open primaries — where all candidates regardless of party affiliation are listed on one ballot — would give voters, rather than political parties, a greater voice in government, says Ted Downing, Ph.D., research professor of social development in the Arizona Research Laboratories at the University of Arizona and one of the initiative’s architects.
“Taxpayers pay for elections [party primaries] that limit their choices,” says Downing. Independents — a rapidly growing group of registered voters in Arizona — are “grossly discriminated against” under our current system, which favors the two major parties.
For the rest of this story from the Huffington Post, go here.