Being a resident of Florida, I have been following the saga of Charlie Crist. Crist is currently governor of the state but wants to be a senator. A while back it seemed likely that Crist would secure the Republican nomination. However, as the Republican party began steering across the hard line and towards the Kingdom of No Crist decided on a more moderate course. He even accepted federal bailout money for the state.
His moderate leanings (which some claim were the results of pure politics rather than an ideological commitment to being a moderate) prevented him from passing the purity test. This resulted in his failure to secure the Republican nomination and his decision to switch to being an independent. This has created that rare American political beast: a three way race. Michael Steele has expressed his dismay over this and his remarks seemed to indicate that the way elections are supposed to work is that there is a Democrat running against a Republican (with the Democrat losing). Crist claims, of course, that he is doing this for the good of the people of Florida. The more cynical seem to be inclined to say that he is doing this for the good of Charlie Crist.
While I am always suspicious of the motivations of politicians, perhaps Crist does have a good point. Some pundits have pointed out that while Crist could not win the primary, he actually stands a chance in the general election. If this is true, then it makes sense for him to leave the Republicans and run as an independent. After all, if a significant number of voters want to vote for him, then he should have the opportunity to run. Otherwise, the primary system would seem to serve to deny people the chance to chose the person they want and to give those who dominate a party that choice. Actually, even if most people would vote against him, then he should still have that opportunity-this is supposed to be a democracy, after all.
This situation does raise questions about the primary system as well as the two party system. As I see it, the current system actually limits democracy. I infer that this is exactly what it is supposed to do. As noted above, Steele seems to think that the race should be limited to a Republican and a Democrat (“The voters out there should be given a chance to have a clean call between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee, Congressman [Kendrick] Meek”). However, I do not think that these two parties have the right to claim a joint monopoly on the election. That is, to say the least, against the very notion of how a democracy should work.
While I am not a major Crist supporter, I do think that he should run as an independent. I am not just saying this because I tend to be a Democrat. Rather, I am saying this because I think that the two party system restricts choice and impairs our democracy.