Maryland Forward Party

Beer, the Two-Party System, Single Primaries, and RCV

07 June, 2024


ROAD TRIP! Ahh, the joy of the summer road trip to experience new things and see new sights. A beer enthusiast, you look forward to new experiences, while respecting the old traditions. After hours of being on the road, you find yourself navigating through a bustling town, and catch sight of the town's only brewery. A sense of anticipation shrouds you as you approach the entrance of the establishment, eyes drawn to the dazzling sign above the place with its letters spelling out the name: Status Quo Saloon.

Entering the brewery, you envision a menu brimming with options, each offering unique flavors and experiences. However, you are swiftly struck with disappointment: there are only 2 beers available. Both are light, mild, and easy to drink, catering to the broadest audience possible, but they lack the complexity and depth that many beer enthusiasts crave. This scenario mirrors the two-party system, where voters are often left choosing between two options that might not fully represent their diverse preferences and interests.

Just as beer lovers yearn for a broader selection of brews, many voters yearn for more options and feel constrained by the limited political choices. The two-party system often presents top-down policies and platforms designed to appeal to the widest base, much like how the two beverages aim to satisfy the majority of casual beer drinkers. This system leaves those with more nuanced or specific political beliefs feeling unrepresented and dissatisfied. The lack of viable third-party options in politics, much like the lack-luster beer choices at Status Quo Saloon, highlights a fundamental issue: when choice is limited, true preference and diversity are stifled, leaving many to compromise on what they truly valued.

Feeling disgusted at the lack of selection and quality of the only two choices, you march right out of the establishment and continue on to the next destination, disappointed but hopeful. Months later, you pass through the same town again and notice that the saloon has rebranded to Forward’s Brewery. Instead of being limited to the two beers, the brewery opened up their menu and features a much wider selection, including craft brews, international imports, and niche local favorites. This variety ensures that lesser known beers got a fair chance to shine, just as single (non-partisan) primaries allows a broader range of candidates to compete in elections.

Enthusiasts could explore and enjoy a rich tapestry of flavors that reflected their diverse tastes, but the brewery can only hold so many different beers. The brewery's selection process, analogous to ranked choice voting, ensures that the beers on offer have broad support among the customers. If a beer isn't popular enough, it is phased out in favor of those with wider appeal, mirroring how ranked choice voting eliminates the least popular candidates and redistributes their votes to reflect the preferences of the majority.

Akin to the positions of the Maryland Forward Party, the brewery ensured that the beer selection better reflected the diverse tastes of its patrons, and opened its menu to allow beers that better represented the tastes of its customers. Single primaries can break the stranglehold of the two dominant parties and allow fresh ideas and candidates to emerge. Ranked choice voting ensures that elected officials have wider support, reducing the polarization and extremism often seen in a two-party system. Just as beer enthusiasts rejoice at a more varied and representative beer menu, voters benefit from a political system that more accurately captures the full spectrum of their preferences and values.


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