Opinion

Top-two primary ruling doesn’t fix the problem

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent top-two primary ruling was gift-wrapped by the Washington State Grange to look like a blanket primary.

It isn’t.

One of the worst features is that political parties no longer control who can use their name. Up until now, the duty of a political party was to vet a candidate. That means we find out if they’re convicted felons, mentally unstable, have attitudes not representative of the party platform, or are just too inexperienced for the office they seek.

Under the top-two primary, you have to do that research, on your own, without knowing the candidate, without being able to ask them for a resume, and without a personal interview.

Some of the people who’ve approached the Progressive Party have been great. Others, well, you should thank us.

We’re picky about who we run. Now, we’re not allowed to be. Any idiot can sign on the ballot as a Progressive, and we have no way to stop them from using our name.

It’s bad enough that any Democrat, for example Hilary Clinton, can claim to be a progressive, without following the Democratic Party platform, let alone the Progressive Party platform.

But the funny thing is that the one party which has had the most trouble with candidates not following their party platform is the Democratic Party. Goodspaceguy Nelson and the various LaRouche, “Democrats” have sneaked their way onto the ballot for years, much to the dismay of Democrats, yet they let it slide.

I believe the average voter misunderstands the reason for the primary. The primary is a contest within a party to find the best candidate for the general election. It was never meant to be open to the general public.

It was also never meant to be paid for by our taxes.

Originally, the primary was paid for by each party, as the price of choosing its own candidate. And it was a vast improvement over the back-room deals with party bosses choosing candidates with no input from anyone else.

One way to solve the problem is to have the primary paid for by each party and held for members only. This would hurt the parties in some ways, and some voters in others.

The only fair way to resolve this issue is with instant-runoff voting, also known as ranked-choice voting.

This solves three problems at once.

It allows everyone to vote on all candidates, and parties to vet their own candidates. It allows the voter to choose their favorite candidate and rank the rest according to those they like best to those they like least.

This eliminates spoilers, and it saves the taxpayer the expense of a primary.

Despite the state Legislature’s knee-jerk reaction to instant-runoff voting, lawmakers need to take an honest, unemotional look at it as a way to solve the problem the Grange has thrust upon us. And so far, the best solution seems to be IRV.

Linde Knighton is co-chair of the Progressive Party of Washington.

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