The Primary Solution: Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes (Hardcover)
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In a divided America, the biggest solvable problem fueling political extremism and dysfunction is hiding in plain sight: party primaries. The Primary Solution shows how to fix them.
Congress has become an unproductive and unaccountable mess. Polls show that only 20 percent of Americans think it’s doing a good job—yet 90 percent of incumbents are reelected. This shocking discrepancy is a natural outcome of our system of party primaries and their polarizing incentives.
Party primaries were invented over a century ago to democratize candidate nominations, but today their exclusionary rules and low turnout guarantee the exact opposite: only a small fraction of voters wind up deciding the vast majority of our elections. The result is a Congress that, rather than representing a majority of Americans, is instead beholden to the fringes of both major parties. This is the “primary problem” in our politics today. Fortunately, the solution is both powerful and practical.
Nick Troiano, founding Executive Director of Unite America, makes a bold proposal to abolish party primaries in our country. Doing so does not require a Constitutional amendment or an act of Congress. In fact, several states have already replaced party primaries with nonpartisan primaries that give all voters the freedom to vote for any candidate in every election, regardless of party.
As America heads into another critical election year, The Primary Solution offers voters across the political spectrum a realistic roadmap to a more representative and functional democracy.
About the Author
Nick Troiano is the founding executive director of Unite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. Since 2019, Unite America has invested over $50 million to help win three major statewide ballot initiatives and over a dozen state legislative and municipal policy victories. In 2014, Troiano ran for the US House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 10th District and was both the youngest candidate of the cycle and the most competitive independent Congressional candidate nationally in over two decades. Nick earned both his BA and MA in American government from Georgetown University and, as an undergraduate, cofounded an endowed Social Innovation and Public Service Fund. He regularly provides commentary to a range of media outlets on topics of democracy and politics, and he has been featured in three documentaries: Follow the Leader, Broken Eggs, and Unrepresented. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
“Thought provoking ideas to terminate polarization and extremism in America.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38th Governor of California
“A must read for anyone who wants a sane democracy.”
— Danielle Allen, professor of political philosophy, ethics, and public policy, Harvard University
“The Primary Solution shows how our political system is designed to empower extremists, how we can fix it, and how the vast majority of Americans stand to gain from more open and democratic elections that lead to more sensible and practical government.”
— Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, former mayor of New York City
“America's greatest threat is our own internal division. We have wandered into a dark forest of bitter discourse and growing animosity. The Primary Solution illuminates a powerful yet practical pathway out…We should grasp it with courage and enthusiasm.”
— James Stavridis, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired); 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO
“The Primary Solution makes the strongest case yet for modernizing partisan primaries –– to elect leaders who are loyal to their constituents, not their party.”
— Kim Wyman, former Washington Secretary of State
"A bold proposal for significant political change. . . . Argues forcefully for abolishing partisan primaries that allow participation only by voters registered as Republican or Democrat. . . . A fresh, timely political analysis."
— Kirkus Reviews