Ryan Roose: It's time to change our primaries

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 6:46pm

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been under fire recently. The FBI concluded its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, recommending that she face no charges despite being “extremely careless” with the classified information. As for Trump, the lawsuits against Trump University seem to be generating more buzz.

Unsurprisingly, Clinton and Trump are viewed unfavorably by roughly half the country. So as we near the general election, it’s only fair to be concerned, considering the negative drama surrounding the two likely nominees. Unless a strange sequence of events unfolds that includes an indictment of Clinton and tremendous change of heart at the convention, Clinton has secured the nomination.

I’ve already seen bumper stickers saying “Meteor 2016” and “They all suck 2016.” Also, a popular meme has circulated depicting a small child with a fork pointed at a wall outlet, and the caption reads “Trump or Hillary? Top socket or bottom socket?” Talk of moving to Canada regardless of who wins between the two is becoming more popular.

But, Americans’ frustration should not be with the two nominees. Instead, perhaps Americans should be frustrated with the system that has enabled Clinton and Trump to secure the nominations. Does it really seem logical for two candidates with unprecedented unfavorability ratings to be the two nominees in the general election? I think not. Nonetheless, the broken primary system has enabled the two to establish themselves as the likely nominees.

The first and biggest flaw in our system exists within the states that have closed primaries. With 42 percent of Americans identifying as independents, this means that nearly half of the people in states with closed primaries don’t get a say.

I understand that this is to prevent voters from one party sabotaging the other party’s primary, but a potential alternative would be to let people in all states vote in both primaries, regardless of affiliation. This gives voters an equal say in each party’s nomination process.

Additionally, I think the primary process limits the opportunities for third party candidates to establish themselves as viable alternatives. In an election as undesirable as this year’s, third-party candidates would have their best shot at the White House. Perhaps Green Party candidate Jill Stein would be a household name. Or maybe we’d be talking about Libertarian Gary Johnson. The problem is we don’t hear about them until the general election cycle begins, virtually destroying their chances. Admittedly, that’s the fault of the media. But as voters, we need to understand that the media are not interested in helping us make informed decisions. Their goal is to make money. We need to do research on our own and look beyond the two parties that dominate airtime.

Essentially, the fact that two incredibly disliked candidates are likely going to be the nominees for the two major American political parties has indicated that we may have a broken primary system. I believe we need to consider making serious changes, and these changes need to enable independents to participate in all primaries and allow third-party candidates to reach the forefront of the conversation as well. Choosing between the lesser of two evils should not be something American voters have to do. They should be able to vote for candidates that at the very least represent their concerns, something that the current nominees seem to fail to achieve.