Arizona Independent Calls for Non-Partisan Elections

Paul Johnson is a former mayor of Phoenix Arizona and a former Democrat.  Like a growing number of Arizonans, Johnson is now an Independent.  Indeed, Independents now outnumber Democrats and are quickly gaining on Republicans in the state.  In a commentary for The Arizona Republic, Johnson argues that "partisan politics is wrecking our country," and makes the case for non-partisan elections in order to ensure that Independents are not disenfranchised from the political process, while moderating the effects extremist primary voters in the Democratic and Republican parties have on our political system.  Johnson furthermore argues against the public subsidization of Democratic and Republican party primary elections.  Excerpt:
Today, we have a two-party system built upon a simple principle: Win. Public policy comes second.  The current two-party system, not the one envisioned by our forefathers, has created a currency of distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation, centralization of power and the unfortunate motivation to put political stripes above the greater good.
Today, the two-party system rewards extremism and punishes moderation.  We need to change the reward system in politics.  In Arizona's partisan primaries, less than 9 percent of the registered voters decide who will represent each party. This gives a disproportionate influence to extreme groups - and, if that's OK with you, stop reading right here.  Unfortunately, we all pay the price . . . 
With partisan primaries and publicly funded elections, economic and business issues are no longer a priority. Compromise is ignored. The average Arizonan has no voice. Extremists rule.

And, so, with no organized effort, independent voters are on their way to becoming the majority party. Arizona's voters are giving up on realignment in the party system and have moved to disalignment with either party. Within the next few years, independents are going to make up the majority of Arizona voters. But the political game is rigged against them.

We will not change human nature. But if we change state and federal elections to a system more like our nonpartisan city elections, we will change behavior and thus outcomes . . .
Our federal and state elections currently subsidize partisan primaries, and at least one of the parties has suggested it plans to sue to keep independents from being able to vote in its primary. As independents are quickly becoming the majority party, this subsidy is not justifiable.
There is no longer any justification for the public subsidization of the primary elections for the Democratic and Republican parties.  The Democratic and Republican parties are not public entities, they are private organizations that have simply seized control of government at all levels in the United States over the course of what is basically indistinguishable from a long, slow coup.  The longer Americans continue to pretend that Republicans and Democrats represent anything other than the interests of the parties and their corporate sponsors, the longer we will have to endure the corporatist subjugation of the American people.

Update:  Johnson's op-ed has sparked a lengthy discussion in the comments of the letters to the editor section of the Arizona Republic.

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