Nearly 225 years ago, George Washington warned the nation about the evils of political parties and partisanship. He did not know the half of it. All these years later, about half of new voters seem to agree with our first president, choosing to register to vote as “no party affiliation.”
While this phenomena is well known, its consequence is less known. As voters withdraw from partisan identification, both major parties have moved further and further to the extreme edges of public policy. As the parties become more extreme, still more voters are turned off, accelerating disaffection with party politics.
Because one party or the other controls the election of most district office holders, more than 3.7 million Florida voters have been effectively disenfranchised. That number is effectively more than doubled when you consider that Florida’s 4,716,019 registered Republicans cannot vote in Democratic primaries, while 4,955,283 registered Democrats cannot vote in Republican primaries. Voters registered to any party should be concerned about living in districts carefully drawn to favor one party or the other while the clear minority of voters control the electoral outcome in a closed partisan primary.
The solution is simple. Allow all voters to vote in all elections choosing among all candidates. The general election will decide among the two highest vote getters in the primary. It should not matter whether the most favored candidates are Republicans or Democrats — the voters will decide.