The solution to that problem involves empowering voters in the middle of the political spectrum. If elected officials are held accountable to a wider swath of the electorate, the theory goes, they’ll be less likely to position themselves on the political extremes, and more likely to want to be seen as bipartisan problem-solvers.
Here’s how California and Washington got the middle involved: Both states used to have what election officials dubbed the “blanket primary.” Instead of choosing a Democratic primary ballot or a Republican primary ballot, voters could vote for any candidate in any race, across party lines — say, a Democrat for governor, a Republican for Senate, a Libertarian for county commissioner, a Green Party candidate for city council. The top vote-getter in each party would advance to the general election.
The two major parties hated the blanket primary. Party officials wanted more control over the primaries that chose their nominees; why, they argued, should a voter not affiliated with the Democratic Party get to choose the Democratic nominee for governor? Why should a Green Party member or a Libertarian have just as much say in choosing the Republican nominee for Senate as a Republican voter?
Above all, why shouldn’t the party be allowed to decide which candidates they want to affiliate with?
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