For parties, the more the merrier

By Tom Johnson
Published February 24th 2009 in The City Paper
Regarding A.C. Kleinheider’s column ["Don't close open primaries," Feb. 19]: As much as I despise the two-party stranglehold on government and long for the day when Independents are the norm, I recognize parties' right to exist.

I also recognize their right to choose their candidates however they want to. I do not feel entitled to have a say in whom a party nominates, even though that party might strategically be well-advised to gauge candidates' standing among us Independents. I say let each party decide whether or not to extend its Tennessee primary vote beyond its membership.

At the same time, Kleinheider need not be so resigned to our being "stuck with the two-party system." If we used instant runoffs, voters would be far less inhibited from expressing their true preferences on the ballot — even if the candidate they consider best is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. This voting system, which was adopted last year in Memphis, could be applied to statewide races to make the field truly competitive, which is to say having more than two viable choices.