by Nick Stone of Drawnlines Politics.
The geniuses at the Palm Beach Post ran an editorial yesterday using Governor Crist’s departure from the Republican Party as an example of why Florida should open up our primary elections to all voters. What a terrible and unsolicited idea.
The Post points out the rise of Independents in the Sunshine State, which now number a surprising near-20 percent of overall registered voters. If not for the closed primary, they suppose, Crist might have remained a Republican candidate. No Party Affiliated voters are – by decree of a few liberals on a newsroom floor – “disenfranchised”. Their conclusion should make all readers think twice about the removal of quality controls from our politics.
Think of this example: I’m not a tree hugger. Should I be able to cast a vote for president of the Sierra Club? I loathe unions. Where’s my ballot for the head of the SEIU? When will The Post demand my right to stick my nose in those and other races? Is it for The Post to tell private organizations like the Republican Party of Florida how to select their leaders and representatives? What skin does the paper have in the game if outsiders make decisions for us?
And that’s exactly the point of keeping elections of, by, and for the people represented in that election.
During the hotly contested Democratic primary battles between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the ugliness of open primaries was on full display. To prolong the battle between the two Dems, conservative activists like Rush Limbaugh encouraged their fans to go out in late contests and vote for Hillary Clinton’s come-from-behind effort. We Clintonites counted on those votes then, and in razor-thin races like the Indiana primary they mattered greatly. It was called “Operation Chaos” because it caused exactly that. With help from conservative crossover voters, Clinton eeked out a victory in Indiana and went on to blow Obama out of the water in late races. (Don’t send me emails saying that conclusion is speculative. Figuring out why voters vote the way they do is ALWAYS speculative.)
Another perilous example of insurgent voters in private organizations could be found this very week in Broward County. So-called Tea Party activists attempted to delay and sway an election for the incoming chairman position of the Broward Republican Executive Committee. To turn the direction of the local GOP toward their own agenda, tea partiers attempted to launch a coup and hoist their own candidate onto the ballot. The problem: They weren’t Republican Executive Committee members. The outsiders were stopped only by rules of order. Imagine the fiasco that might have ensued if the vote had been open to the general public. Would not such a coup be “disenfranchising” to the voices of long-time party activists?
Take it from a gay Republican. If you don’t show up, you don’t get (nor do you deserve) a voice. For the parties to maintain order and thwart sabotage, they must be allowed the right to exclude non-members from casting votes on internal issues. There is no other option. Moderate Republicans and Democrats have exactly as much a voice in their parties as they want to have. The concept of a big tent only works if “the great middle” stays under the shelter and within the confines of that tent. If they leave, they lose their say-so.
Should frustrated voters choose not to align with either party, they have the right to support a candidate from The Socialist Party, The Green Party, or any other party they choose. They just have to wait until November to make their choice heard. Democrats cannot pick Republican candidates, and that failsafe must be preserved.
If we should be allowed to choose representatives for the other side, then tell me I’m wrong. I’ll go out today and start looking for the worst candidates I can find to run as Democrats in my state. Don’t you think Hulk Hogan would make a great governor? Perhaps Lil’ Wayne is the guy that can get our state budget under control. When saboteurs like me are let loose on the opposition because of outside meddling, be sure to thank the wise men of the Palm Beach Post.
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