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Congressional Polarization

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Over the last decade congressional polarization has increased at alarming rates causing Washington insiders and outsiders alike to worry about the future of American politics and democracy. While Democrats and Republicans on The Hill cannot agree on much, they both acknowledge that the increasing level of polarization in Washington is crippling the entire legislative branch, thereby undermining the greatest democracy in the world. Numerous public opinion polls, over the last few years, have shown that the vast majority of the American public, regardless of party affiliation, disapproves of, and feels unrepresented by, the extremely polarized legislature (Gallup, 2016). However, year after year, despite how many Americans become disgruntled…show more content…
To someone who is familiar with the reform this is unsurprising, given that the reform can effectively make the primary system more inclusive and successfully decrease polarization, without being impractical and nearly impossible to implement. Unlike a traditional close primary election, “top-two” primaries allow every eligible voter to participate in primary elections, regardless of their party affiliation. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even Libertarians, can vote on a preferred candidate they believe should proceed to a general election. However, the “top two” primary differs from an open one since voters do not have to choose which party’s primary to participate in; all voters receive identical ballots that list all the candidates competing and their party affiliations (Add book quote). Thus, a “top two” primary ballot can potentially have a dozen candidates from several different parties listed on it. After voters participate, all the votes are counted and only the top two candidates, regardless of their party, can proceed to the general election. In short, “top two” primaries allow every eligible voter to participate, but only permits the two most popular candidates to proceed to a general election. While no reform is perfect, “top two” nonpartisan primaries successfully minimizes, and even eliminates, many of the major problems associated with a closed primary party system. Arguably, the biggest problem with the primary system many states currently possess is that they result in the nomination of ideologically extreme candidates, who are not politically aligned with the majority of their electorate. This occurrence is based on the phenomenon that primary voters are more ideologically extreme, and therefore favor more extreme
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