While it’s easy to blame greedy politicians and powerful interest groups for the failures of Congress, as a professor of political science, I believe much of the responsibility lies with ideologically moderate citizens who do not vote in primary elections. Simply put, when moderate Democrats and Republicans do not vote in the primaries, moderate candidates cannot advance to the general election. As a result, in the general election, voters are forced to choose between two relatively extreme candidates who owe their success to political activists and donors who helped elect them. And it should not surprise anyone that, once in office, these politicians vote in a way that reflect the views of the activists and donors to whom they owe their success.
In the upcoming primary election, two things are converging that make it possible for voters in California’s 25th Congressional District (CD25) to break that trend. First, the “jungle” primary system makes it possible for moderate voters to shape the outcome of the election. Second, there is a pragmatic and policy-oriented Democratic candidate on the ballot: Katie Hill. While she is a proud Democrat who shares the values that animate the party to which I have belonged my entire life, she also understands the value of compromise in our political system. Moreover, she understands that, if elected, her job will be to represent everyone in CD25, not just political activists. Our community is diverse. We deserve a representative who understands and appreciates that diversity. Finally, the district – and the country – will benefit from Katie’s even temperament. Unlike many politicians, Katie does not engage in hyperbole. From her days working at PATH, she learned that alienating or demonizing those with whom you disagree rarely leads to progress. The key to success is finding areas of common ground and moving forward. Far too few members of Congress, including Rep. Knight, understand this seemingly obvious concept.
Dr. Phil Gussin
College of the Canyons Dept. of Political Science