Open primaries would be like open huddles
Participatory government is a messy thing, but one of the few things that is messier is non-participatory government, or statism.
With primary season starting up in earnest, that messy process elicits a lot of observations on how it could be better. One idea is that everybody ought to have what’s loosely called open primaries, which I suppose means any properly qualified voter can vote in the primary of his or her choice.
Now, right there I said a few things that rub some of our compadres on the far left the wrong way.
First, I’m using that voter-suppression lingo, suggesting that someone who votes in an election should actually be legally qualified to do so. I further suppress those voters by suggesting they should only be allowed to vote once.
I started thinking last weekend about other examples where one group trying to accomplish an objective sought to exclude another group seeking a similar goal. I found one on Sunday when I witnessed the Denver Broncos purposefully marginalizing and excluding the Pittsburgh Steelers from their game- planning and play-calling.
Extraordinarily, both groups actually bunched up together at different places and spoke in low tones, purposely excluding the other group, who were simply trying to achieve a similar result for themselves.
Clearly, it would have been more bipartisan to allow one of the other team’s players to participate, even for just one play, with the other team. Maybe, as in some state primaries, one of the Steelers players could simply change sides for a play and then change back immediately afterward.
I’m sure they would have their new, temporary team’s best interests at heart when they were executing that play.
You know who else should have received some input? The New England Patriots. After all, they knew they would be participating in a future contest with whoever won that playoff game, so they had a stake in the outcome, right?
If you think letting political parties trying to win an office limit participation to folks who have declared, at least in some minor way, their intentions to act in the best interest of that party is different than the football example, I don’t know what to tell you.
Since there is no Democratic primary for president this year, why make them feel ostracized and alone. Consider how much fun it might have been for a Republican to be able to vote for Howard Dean in a 2004 primary, based primarily on entertainment value.
I also remember 2008, when Rush Limbaugh was encouraging Republicans, in primaries where you could switch your voting allegiance back and forth quickly, to vote for Hillary Clinton as part of his Operation Chaos. Liberal commentators thought this was a very bad practice.
Inviting competitors to choose your candidate seems an unlikely method of winning, but that’s what some advocates of truly open primaries want.
Sure, it seems inclusive and chock full of diversity to allow anybody to drop in and choose candidates for a party, but it is a little like letting a bystander run a few plays. Where’s the commitment?
Universal suffrage in primaries seems a good idea on its face. But a political campaign, like a football game, is more similar to a military exercise than a board meeting and participants popping from camp to camp or huddle to huddle eventually tend to be unhelpful to someone.
Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, the War on Wrong.