The Cry To Close Primaries

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12 ESV

I don’t normally stick scripture into my posts to make a point, but I thought the Golden Rule is applicable (of course, it should be applicable in our lives daily, but we all fall short…myself included). A hew and cry is being made over at RedState about a supposed 12 million Democrats voting (by the author’s figures) in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary this year.

I recall that a lot of conservatives, myself included, got a kick out of Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos in the 2008 election campaign to cause havoc in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary where we assumed Hillary would be crowned as the Democratic nominee and, ultimately, President of the United States.  In fact, Limbaugh took credit for Clinton’s win in the Pennsylvania primary in 2008.  Fast forward eight years later where we are in real danger of losing the White House again with Donald Trump, and there’s speculation that Democratic crossover votes during the primary may be to blame…and we really can’t complain about it if we celebrated Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos in 2008.  They, if true, really are doing unto us what we did to them.

Is it possible that Democrats played a part in giving Trump the (presumptive) nomination?  Maybe.  Should states that have open primaries go to closed primaries?  Ehh……I don’t know.  I understand the premise, but I can see confusion and discontent reigning when people who have not or will not declare a party affiliation try to vote in a closed primary that used to be open.

The 2016 Convention of the Georgia Republican Party considered a resolution to exploring alternatives to the primary in the presidential election as well as other election methods. I see issues coming out of limiting the Republican presidential preference process to a limited number of people.  Cries of how Republican politics is controlled by #TheEstablishment, the #GOPe, and #TheRepublicanRulingClass have dominated GOP circles, ironically perpetrated by the same folks advocating for closed primaries, for the past 3 or 4 election cycles.  Limiting the number of ballots to those who attend their local GOP and TEA Party meetings won’t do anything to earn support of independents or, honestly, likely Republican voters.

We generally pride ourselves for having a fair and open primary system.  The thought is that the best candidate will emerge victorious to carry the Republican mantle in November.  Of course, the system surprises us (see this year’s GOP primary) from time to time and isn’t a perfect system, but it allows a broad base of participation from people who generally agree with Republican ideals.  Sometimes there are outside forces that can tilt the election one way or the other.  I believe a major factor in Trump’s win was the constant focus on his sideshow campaign by the 24×7 news cycle and social media (he, unfortunately, can’t help himself on Twitter).

I could be wrong, but I don’t expect closing or limiting the primary process will do much to prevent candidates like Trump.  In fact, there are many Trump supporting Republicans who have been active in the Party for many years.  Rather than limiting, we need to be expanding the Republican Party.  Like I said in a previous piece, we, the GOP, need to be attractive to the many rather than the few.

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gcpdavidmacDave BearseNoParty4MeAndrew C. Pope Recent comment authors
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elfiii
elfiii

If primaries were closed to only card carrying members of the two parties there would be no doubt where each party stands.

Will Durant
Will Durant

I’m fine with this as long as those same card carrying members are the ones footing the bills for those same primaries.

Will Durant
Will Durant

State and local primaries should be open with top two going to the general. Presidential nominees and/or official party nominees on the state and local open primary ballot can be however the party in question wants to hold their selection. Caucus, convention, or even a pre-primary makes no nevermind to me as long as they don’t use taxpayer money in that process. If taxpayer money is being used for any election then the voters should be given the option of voting for whom they think the best candidate is regardless of party.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Great idea. I would also like more non-partisan offices with county and municipal elections. And YES! taxpayer money should = open choice for all primary election voters.

raconteuse
raconteuse

How about we close the primaries AND lower the requirements for independents to get on the ballot?

George Chidi
George Chidi

There are three classes of people who choose not to enroll in political parties. There are honest-to-goodness ideological moderates who believe they cannot be defined by party ideologies. There’s are voters who may have ideological leanings one way or another but don’t like political parties. And there are people who are ideological extremists, for whom major parties don’t go far enough and often abstain from the ballot as a result. A bit less than half of Sanders voters fall in the latter category — card-carrying Communists, socialists, Green Party refugees and the like who, often as not, vote for third… Read more »

joe
joe

The problem with primaries is not whether they are open or closed. The problem, especially with presidential primaries, is the ‘winner takes most’ setup that both parties have adopted in many states. When there are 5+ candidates, and the one with the plurality gets 65% of the delegates, there is a problem. When there are 2 candidates and the one with 51% gets 65% of the delegates, there is a problem. (numbers are notional) Both parties have a system of bad rules, and instead of admitting what is wrong and fixing it, they just want to add more rules. I… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

All Democratic primaries are proportional. Super delegates are a different story.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Obviously, I don’t care for party politics at all and prefer the open primary. I like the option to choose, on voting day which ballot to pull in a primary. Why? Because I don’t want to pre-register with a limited choice before candidates are registered. Because some candidates will do something really stupid and I might prefer the alternative by voting day. Because Political Parties no longer represent me. I’m glad I can do this in Georgia. I think crossover voting is a myth. If anyone says they can prove it, then it means my vote has no privacy and… Read more »

davidmac
davidmac

>”I think crossover voting is a myth. If anyone says they can prove it, then it means my vote has no privacy and there is a serious violation of election data going on.” Your voting history – whether you voted, whether you voted absentee or in-person – is public record. What party’s ballot you pull for a primary election is public record. If you have a history of pulling a R primary ballot, and then all of the sudden you pull a D – sounds like you’re a crossover voter. Now, *who* you voted for, that’s secret. Though that’s legislative… Read more »

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Thanks. I knew your first point, but not the second.

gcp
gcp

Sanders was an independent but ran for president as a democrat. He used the party system to his advantage. If he was truly independent he should run as an independent.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Presidential/statewide office and non-statewide office primaries have very different Georgia circumstances. Georgia counties are generally tiny (in both geography and population), increasing the likelihood of effectively one-party counties. Even larger population counties are often decidedly predominantly one-party.

Open primaries are important because the primary is effectively the election for many if not most non-statewide offices.