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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