Thank you, Duncan Hunter Jr.

Because the corrupt Congressman’s long-overdue indictment has provided the first real public crack in the civic-media support for top two.

The support for top two from the self-styled good guys of California press and politics has been ironclad. It hasn’t bothered people that the system is anti-democratic, that it discourages voters, or that it’s totally mislabeled (still calling the June election, which is really a general election, a primary even though the top two system by definition eliminates primaries).

But it does bother the New York Times and others that Hunter cannot be replaced on the ballot even though he is under indictment. That’s because top two is a prison. Only people who finish first or second in June can be on the ballot in November. There’s no provision for replacing a thief, a murder or any other kind of crook.

Indeed, top two is so inflexible that it specifically prohibits write-ins. That was by design. Its backers, so fearful of actual democracy, wanted to keep minor parties from finding ways onto the ballot. They wanted to make sure it was only top two.

This lack of flexibility was also there to make sure the two major parties didn’t have control. To replace a candidate in a moment like this, the party would be the natural vehicle to do it. But parties no longer have standing in the top two system.

Which is another reason why it’s a lie to keep saying California has primaries.

The admission that this is a problem is huge for the same reason. Even top two backers are realizing that parties need a role if you’re going to have an accountable system of democratic elections. Of course, the truth is that parties are essential to democracy.

California, by removing parties from the system, hasn’t improved its politics, as the false conventional wisdom suggests. It has made its democracy weaker and less democratic.

And safer for the Duncan Hunters of the world.