The two-party political system has allowed "extremist-adjacent" candidates to win elections to Congress and the White House, and one conservative columnist proposed an idea to boost the quality of those who seek election.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) won her first election in a deep-red district in northwest Georgia, despite lacking conventional qualifications and making bizarre statements, and The Bulwark columnist Mona Charen said the democratic system should be reformed to disincentive candidates like her.
"That a woman with zero political experience, who inherited a business from her dad and spent her days fantasizing for fringe websites like 'American Truth Seekers' and whose sole output consisted of imbecilic conspiracy theories should have been elected to Congress is an indictment of democracy," Charen wrote. "She’s a repellent clown whose presence on the national stage has yielded nothing but degradation — except for the guffaw she afforded us when denouncing Nancy Pelosi’s 'Gazpacho police.'"
The internet has hollowed out the formerly stable Democratic and Republican parties, Charen argued, and many politicians chase small-dollar online contributions with outrageous antics aimed at flaunting their personal brands, and winner-take-all primaries -- in which only 10 percent of voters participate -- give zealous partisans a disproportionate influence over the candidates who wind up the general elections.
"So, are we doomed to be at the mercy of the mad and bad?" Charen asked. "It’s possible, but then again, one reform that seems to be getting traction is ranked-choice voting (also known as instant runoff elections)."
Alaska and Maine already use ranked-choice voting, as well as more than 20 cities, and Virginia's Republican Party used ranked-choice voting in its 2021 gubernatorial primary, which Charen said sent Glenn Youngkin to the November election instead of "Trump-in-heels" candidate Amanda Chase.
"Not only does the ranked-choice system disempower party extremists, it also discourages candidates from savage personal attacks, the persistence of which arguably keeps some fine people out of politics altogether," Charen wrote. "Candidates are less likely to attack one another if they hope to be the second choice of the other person’s voters."
"The two-party system has not proven to be a solid foundation for democracy," she concluded. "Time to disarm the crazies."
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