All day, I’ve been trying to find time to fulminate about this, which I learned from Twitter this morning:
State GOP goes to court to close SC primaries
GREENVILLE, SC (AP) – South Carolina Republicans hope a federal judge will set the stage for closed primaries that require voters to register by party.
The Greenville Republican Party and state GOP are pushing for the legal ruling at a Thursday hearing in a Greenville federal courtroom.
A ruling there could change South Carolina’s taxpayer-funded presidential, state and local primaries.
South Carolina’s attorney general has asked that the case be dismissed.
It is also opposed by the Columbia Tea Party, members of the state Legislative Black Caucus, the Independence Party of South Carolina and IndependentVoting.org.
Oh, and before my liberal friends counter that Once again, you’re forcing a false nonpartisan parity by refusing to recognize that only those awful Republicans would do such a thing, and Democrats never would, allow me to remind you that leading Democrats tried to do this very thing (although a different way) in 2006, by requiring that anyone voting in the presidential primary here had to swear to being a Democrat. (Then-chairman Joe Erwin heroically stepped in at the very last minute to stop it, to his everlasting credit.)
At least with the Republicans, it sort of makes a twisted kind of sense for them to try to close primaries, since they see it to their advantage as the majority party. For the Democrats, with their dwindling ranks, it made NO sense to bar independents such as myself from voting in a Democratic primary. Golly, who knows — they might get into the habit!
Anyway… I haven’t seen yet what happened in court today. But this is one time that I’m rooting for the Tea Party (if I understand it rightly and they are opposing the GOP on this — it was a little hard to tell from that brief item; the wording was sketchy.)
You know what I think? I think we ought to do like Louisiana, and let everybody vote in a single primary that candidates of all parties (and nonparties) vote in. That way the citizens, rather than parties, get to decide which two candidates they’ll be choosing from in the fall. When the UnParty takes over, that’s the way it will be here.
Arguments were heard today, but the judge apparently hasn’t decided the case yet. The update was as sketchy as the original item, unfortunately. I’m hoping to see something more complete, because this deserves a MUCH wider airing.
To tell the truth, I’m ready for closed primaries. And then SC can remove that line item for the primaries in the budget and let the political parties pay for it.
Good evening, Brad, from a recent transplant back to Louisiana. Back when I was on the opinion staff at The Sun News, I used to cringe at even mentioning any policy that should be more like Louisiana’s, because I thought the mere notion would be so laughable to South Carolinians it would fail to get any serious consideration at all. So now you’ve done it.
I do, however, like Louisiana’s system quite a bit. Generally, we get to vote the first time for the best candidate, and the second time for the lesser of two evils. The result’s probably the same – we have approximately the same mix as South Carolina of ideological governor, single Democratic Congressman of questioned ethics representing an African-American district among a crowd of otherwise overeager Republicans – but it feels better getting there.
But as far as South Carolina primaries go – if you want to give independents or third-party candidates a better chance – wouldn’t it be better to let the GOP have its way on this issue? If they want to shut Democrats and independents out, aren’t they going to lose that moderating influence and end up nominating progressively more extreme candidates? And doesn’t that leave more room for the middle?
Will Folks made a similar point today (though coming from a very different perspective), and I have to say it’s a conclusion I’ve come to agree with:
Positing that you want to see Lindsey Graham returned to the US Senate, for example, how best to get him there? Through relying on a coalition of independents and the shrinking moderate wing of the Republican faithful to carry him through what could be an extremely tough open primary against a Tea Partier with a decent resume, or to create a closed primary Graham couldn’t win against the same candidate, and have him announce as an independent? The latter strategy didn’t go so hot for Charlie Crist, but did for Joe Lieberman.
If a political party primary is restricted it would put a halt to various claims such as that of Mr. Clyburn who recently accused the Republicans of voting for Mr. Greene. It would not necessarily be a good move for those who are Independants, but it would not prevent them from voting in the general election for the candidate of their choice as selected by the various organzations recognized as a political party. There is logic to a party primary wanting only those of a like persuasion to vote in that primary rather than a catch as catch can sitaution where people with no affiliation just vote when and where they want based on their opinion at the time.
But Jim, with regard to Clyburn’s concern — who, aside from partisans who care more about party than about the state or nation, gives a flip?
VOTERS should be allowed to vote anytime there is an election in their jurisdiction. That overrides everything.
The Louisiana system — and thanks for your input there, Robert — would actually make it possible, maybe even likely, that when I go to the poll in November, I would actually have TWO decent candidates to choose from. The party-primary system is stacked to give me the two most extreme candidates — it doesn’t always do that, but the conditions tend that way. And if the primaries were closed (and they are SEMI closed, in that you can only vote in one, and after you vote in that one, you are barred from voting in the other primary runoff — which is pretty durn closed in my book), it would solidify that system of effectively disenfranchising independents.
The primaries, which determine what our choices will be in the fall, are of critical importance, and of legitimate interest to EVERY voter. NO voter should be barred from any decision that shapes the November ballot.
That is a value that is infinitely more important than any concern of parties. Parties are a negative force in our system, and the last thing we should be doing is letting them further foul up the choices (and I’m talking VIABLE choices — write-ins candidacies are 99.999 percent of the time a total joke) that we citizens have on Election Day.