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Trump is a Symptom. How Do We Cure the Disease?

Open primaries and ranked-choice voting can create better political incentives, writes Sam Mar in his latest op-ed.

Voters cast ballots at Marina Park Community Vote Center in Newport Beach, California on Nov. 3. (Apu Gomes/Getty Images)

The horrific images of a Confederate flag-waving mob storming Congress mark a dark day in our nation’s democracy, but it is perhaps even scarier to realize that this insurrection was a mere symptom of a deeper disease infecting our nation. 

In an oped in the Houston Chronicle, Arnold Ventures Vice President Sam Mar explains how our electoral status quo incentivizes this kind of anti-democratic extremism, and how the nation can change those incentives to promote cooperation and moderation. 

Efforts to cure the nation of this disease cannot end with a second impeachment of Donald Trump or criminal prosecutions of the violent mob that attacked the Capitol. We need to change the way our elections work to ensure that people like Trump cannot find political success in demonizing their fellow Americans and appealing to a small sect of core voters. 

This means ending the closed partisan primaries that put elected officials in thrall to extremist voting blocs and replacing first-past-the-post plurality elections with ranked-choice voting. 

These structural changes to our electoral system can help disempower extreme voices that seek nothing but destruction and instead bolster a political system that rewards action, compromise, and mass appeal,” Mar wrote. 

Maine has already implemented ranked-choice voting, and Alaska voters just approved a total rehaul of their primaries and general election that implements a final-four ranked-choice voting system. 

Read the full oped in the Houston Chronicle.