We completely screwed up California’s election system, and all we got was one lousy independent.

After a decade of the miserable election experiment known as the top-two, the election to the state assembly of Chad Mayes, a former Republican turned independent, is the only consolation prize.

That ought to embarrass backers of the top-two system. After all, changing our elections to a two-round contest—with all the candidates on the ballot in the first round, and a run-off between the top-two in November—was supposed to advance moderation and independent candidates.

But Mayes, in winning election as an independent to a seat he had previously won as a Republican, is the only independent to win a state election in California in the first decade of top two. Indeed, Mayes made history not just in our state. He’s the only person who is not a Democrat and not a Republican to win a state election in any top-two state.

His election, in other words, is not some ratification of top two. It’s the exception that proves the rule about top-two. It advantages more extreme candidates of both parties.

Because Mayes is not just the first independent to win under top-two. He might well be the last.

Let his victory mark the moment for real electoral reform, with multi-member districts and proportional representation. America desperately needs to move away from polarized, winner-take-all election systems, including top two. If we want significant independence and moderation, we’ll need multi-party coalition politics.

And not just one independent elected every 10 years.