Government Proposals A New System For Elections Part 2

About a government proposal to restructure our Presidential elections.


In effect, this first election would be equivalent to a national primary; it would differ from the present presidential primaries, which take place in only 37 states, because it would be held on one day, would involve all candidates, and would not be dominated by parties.

If no candidate wins a majority in the first election--equivalent to a national primary--a presidential runoff would take place the following week. Although the field would be narrowed to, say, the top five candidates, most citizens would find one candidate whose position still somewhat approximates their own. If this election proved inconclusive, a final vote between the top two candidates would be held the next week.

On the state and local levels, governors and mayors would be elected in much the same manner. This way all elected executive officials in the U.S. would be nominated by legislative bodies and then finally chosen by the people. There would be no qualifying conventions or primaries controlled by party organizations. Such a polling process could conceivably revitalize voter interest and turnout.

This is not a call for the end of politics or an outline for a country without a political system. Every social group must have its political arrangements. It is a plea for Americans to recognize that their political system has been taken over by two parties. The parties' basic function is to perpetuate their own power--thus excluding the people from the process of selecting leaders--while giving the impression that the entire system exists only to respond to the people's wishes.

It is also a call for change, and as such, it may disturb those who perceive of their existence as immutable, reliable, and the product of natural laws with which one cannot tamper.

Our common liberty and good sense must be allowed to mold the form of our political institutions. We are a free, responsible people who have proved we are capable of accomplishing wonders. Among these can be the construction of an election system that will honor reason and, hopefully, lead us further from the cave and the club toward a time when party taskmasters will no longer be in a position of determining to whom we give our precious gift of leadership.

Leonard Lurie

New York, N.Y.

SOURCE: Copyright 1980 by Leonard Lurie. From the book Party Politics: Why We Have Poor Presidents. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers.

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