Posted by | September 28, 2012 13:25 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards speak.  Edwards served in the House from 1978-1994 and noted that he was one of the most conservative members while he was there, and now would be the 5th-most liberal Republican.  He has made it his cause to reverse the gain in partisanship.  His suggested reforms include open primaries:

The primary system was introduced by Progressives in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a reform to expand democracy and give voters a greater voice in the selection of public officials, not to squeeze voters out of the picture. If the goal is to send to Washington the preferred choice of the state’s voters (or a congressional district’s voters), all credible candidates should be allowed to appear on the ballot and all the voters, regardless of party, should be allowed to determine who will represent them.Washington State (in 2006) and California (in 2010) woke up to this dramatically undemocratic system and enacted changes in their laws to create open primaries – every candidate on one ballot, all voters eligible to choose whomever they want.

and neutral redistricting:

There’s a solution for this, too: congressional redistricting takes place every 10 years after a national census, and more than a dozen states have now turned that responsibility over to nonpartisan and independent redistricting commissions; that’s a course every state should follow.

I agree 100 percent with both of these changes.  I don’t think they would completely solve the problem Edwards is concerned with but they would make our elected representatives more representative of the people of this country.  And that’s a good thing.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.