The Case for Open Primaries and Multi-Party Government

An editorial in Pennsylvania's Lebanon Daily News makes a strong case for open primaries and multi-party election contests. The piece all but declares the two-party system a form of political tyranny, and hits on a number of critical points regarding the means by which Republicans and Democrats retain their duopoly on political power in the Keystone State:
We have long been critical of Pennsylvania’s primary-election mechanism, one that invites only Republicans and Democrats to the ballot party and disenfranchises many who would like some say in the way they’re governed. We’ve advocated opening the primary to other parties, and we’ve especially called for creating a fairer system for third-party candidates who are saddled with far greater burdens (like signature requirements) to get their names on the ballot than are Republicans or Democrats. We’re hoping that some new legislation can cut into the exclusivity a little bit. We’re always hoping for such change, and we certainly advocate it, but it’s too much to say we believe it will happen — the two parties in control, after all, are the ones that will vote on such a change. Not likely, but we’d love to be surprised. The legislation, a bill by Rep. Eugene DePasquale, a York Democrat, would allow independents — those who do not have any party affiliation or those registered to a recognized third party, such as the Greens or the Libertarians — to choose a primary in which to vote. This doesn’t do much for getting more third-party candidates into the voting mix, which is what we’d really like to see, but it would at least provide a vestige of empowerment to those in third parties eternally frustrated by far more limited choices than those enjoyed by anyone willing to ride a donkey or an elephant . . . Those who while away their time in third parties recognize that neither of the “big tent” parties can be viewed as representative of their political needs, but it is feasible that one individual amid a crop of candidates from a party might be viewed as more palatable by members of a third party — but not necessarily by the party mainstream . . . It makes no sense that the entity that is supposed to be serving us does not allow a fair segment of those being served to take part in a basic part of our government . . . Third-party life is still a struggle, and overcoming long years of inculcation that the two big parties are the be-all and end-all must be overcome. This is, in the final word, about fairness. A system in which more individuals are invested is fairer than one in which many are dissatisfied at least and utterly spurned at worst. Here’s our call, again, for a fairer system. [Emphasis added.]

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