The Primary Solution Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes


The Primary Solution Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster (February 27, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1668028255
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9781668028254
  • ISBN -13:  9781668028278
SKU: 9781668028254 Category:

The Primary Solution Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes

In a divided America, the biggest solvable problem fueling political extremism and dysfunction is hiding in plain sight: party primaries. The Primary Solution shows how to fix them.

Congress has become an unproductive and unaccountable mess. Polls show that only 20 percent of Americans think it’s doing a good job—yet 90 percent of incumbents are reelected. This shocking discrepancy is a natural outcome of our system of party primaries and their polarizing incentives.

Party primaries were invented over a century ago to democratize candidate nominations, but today their exclusionary rules and low turnout guarantee the exact opposite: only a small fraction of voters wind up deciding the vast majority of our elections. The result is a Congress that, rather than representing a majority of Americans, is instead beholden to the fringes of both major parties. This is the “primary problem” in our politics today. Fortunately, the solution is both powerful and practical.

Nick Troiano, founding Executive Director of Unite America, makes a bold proposal to abolish party primaries in our country. Doing so does not require a Constitutional amendment or an act of Congress. Several states have already replaced party primaries with nonpartisan primaries that give all voters the freedom to vote for any candidate in every election, regardless of party.

As America heads into another critical election year, The Primary Solution offers voters across the political spectrum a realistic roadmap to a more representative and functional democracy.

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The Primary Solution: Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes  Summary

Nick Troianos book argues that partisan primaries are the root cause of Americas political dysfunction and proposes solutions for reform. He believes that these primaries disenfranchise voters, incentivize extremism, and prevent our leaders from working together to solve problems.

Heres a breakdown of the key points:

Part I: The Birth and Weaponization of a Problem

  • Primaries: A Historical Perspective: Troiano delves into the history of primaries, explaining their origin as a response to the corruption of the caucus and convention system in the 19th century. He highlights their initial purpose of empowering voters and democratizing the nomination process.

  • From Solution to Problem: The book then explores how, over time, partisan primaries have been exploited by the extremes of both parties, leading to increased polarization and gridlock. He uses examples like the primary defeats of moderate Republicans Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman and the rise of the Tea Party and progressive movements.

Part II: The LoseLoseLose Reality

  • Voters Lose: Troiano argues that partisan primaries disenfranchise voters, particularly independents, and produce unrepresentative outcomes. He focuses on the problems of uncompetitive districts, low voter turnout, and plurality winners, where candidates can win with a small fraction of the overall electorate.

  • Country Loses: He contends that partisan primaries are detrimental to the country by discouraging compromise and leading to gridlock on critical issues like immigration, climate change, education, healthcare, and the budget. He also highlights their contribution to the erosion of democratic norms and the alarming rise of election denialism.

  • Parties Lose: The book argues that partisan primaries are harmful to the parties themselves by incentivizing extremism and producing candidates who struggle in general elections. He uses examples like the 2022 midterms, where Republicans nominated several extreme candidates who subsequently lost winnable races.

Part III: Charting a Better Course

  • Beyond Partisan Primaries: Troiano explores a range of solutions to the Primary Problem, including replacing partisan primaries with nonpartisan primaries, eliminating primaries, and implementing rankedchoice voting. He showcases the successes of Louisianas open primary system and Alaskas topfour primary with rankedchoice voting as examples of positive change.

  • Majority Winner Voting: He proposes his preferred system, Majority Winner Voting, which combines elements of existing reforms to ensure broad voter participation and requires the winning candidate to have majority support.

Part IV: Building a Nationwide Movement

  • Winning Strategies: Troiano lays out a statebystate strategy for achieving primary reform, drawing inspiration from the successful tactics of the marriage equality movement. He emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals, building bipartisan coalitions, and crafting e ective campaigns that resonate with voters.

  • Addressing Concerns: He tackles common objections to primary reform headon, such as the claim that it favors one party over the other, that it promotes centrism, and that it hurts communities of color.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

Troiano concludes the book with a passionate call to action, urging readers to become active participants in the movement for primary reform and help build a more functional and representative democracy. He emphasizes that primary reform is crucial for tackling the major challenges facing America and safeguarding the future of its democracy.

Proposed Article: The Primary Problem: How Partisan Primaries are Undermining American Democracy and What We Can Do About It

This article would delve deeper into the issues raised by Troiano and explore the potential impact of primary reform on American politics. It could be structured as follows:

1. Introduction: A Democracy in Crisis

  • Start with a compelling overview of the current state of American democracy, highlighting the problems of polarization, gridlock, and declining trust in government.

  • Introduce the concept of partisan primaries as a root cause of these problems.

2. The Perils of Partisan Primaries

  • Expand on the books arguments about how partisan primaries disenfranchise voters, incentivize extremism, and hinder problemsolving.

  • Include relevant data and examples to illustrate the negative consequences of the current system.

3. Solutions for Reform

  • Discuss the various options for reforming or replacing partisan primaries, such as nonpartisan primaries, rankedchoice voting, and Majority Winner Voting.

  • Analyze the pros and cons of each option, including their potential impact on representation, competition, and governability.

4. Building a Movement for Change

  • Explore the challenges and opportunities of building a successful movement for primary reform.

  • Highlight the importance of bipartisan support, strategic planning, and engaging diverse communities.

  • Discuss the role of political philanthropy and the need for increased funding for reform e orts.

5. A Brighter Future for American Democracy

  • Conclude with a hopeful vision for the future of American democracy, emphasizing the potential of primary reform to restore trust in government, reduce polarization, and enable effective problemsolving.

  • Provide readers with concrete actions they can take to get involved in the reform movement.

This article, drawing inspiration from The Primary Solution, can serve as a powerful tool for raising awareness about the Primary Problem and mobilizing support for meaningful change. By engaging with these ideas and actively participating in the political process, we can help build a more representative and functional democracy for all Americans.



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