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November 4, 2022

Are Primary Elections Ruining Democracy?

The U.S. Constitution has a lot to say about elections. But nowhere is there any mention of political primaries, the process by which candidates are winnowed down ahead of a general election. Though they may seem integral to the U.S. system, primaries in fact are a relatively new phenomenon, borne of the turn of the 20th century when reformers sought to wrangle power from political party bosses. Of course, quite a lot has changed since the days of Tammany Hall. Gerrymandering has greatly reduced competitive districts, while the urban-rural divide has grown exponentially. Divisions run deep, with social media capable of dramatically shifting the political landscape at unprecedented speed. Many see primary elections as a principal culprit of what they consider an undermined democracy, fueling extremism, hindering compromise, and lending too much power to partisans. Others argue that primaries are an important bulwark against political corruption and a hedge against elitism. In this context, we ask: Are Primary Elections Ruining Democracy?

ABOUT THE DEBATERS
For The Motion
Elaine Kamarck
Elaine Kamarck - Founding Director of the Center for Effective Public Management, Brookings Institution
Elaine Kamarck is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program as well as the Director of the C... Read bio
Against The Motion
Jed Ober
Jed Ober - Former Director of Programs at Democracy International, Current the Chief of Staff for Pennsylvania Congresswoman Susan Wild
Jed Ober is a senior political and management professional with more than a decade of experience in ... Read bio