September 8, 2023
An Open Primary
By: James Wilson
Idahoans for Open Primaries is a collection of several mongrel groups of establishmentarian Republicans and progressives who think themselves more reasonable than most others in the state when it comes to choosing who will exercise the power of government. They make about as much sense as the Mad Hatter if they are to be taken seriously at their own word about themselves. Their coalition includes such outfits as the Idaho Task Force of Veterans for Political Innovation – try saying that without taking a breath – and North Idaho Women, Represent US Idaho, The Hope Coalition, and Reclaim Idaho. Frankly, I don’t think they are stupid enough to believe the tripe they speak, and so I choose to believe they are simply disingenuous to the max.
The Idaho Press describes the group as critical of the closed Republican primary election. They believe any resident of Idaho should be allowed to vote to choose who will represent the GOP in a general election. This is no different than a bunch of satanists wanting a say in how the Church governs itself. The rationale is that the party, or the church, exists for the good of the whole community, and therefore should accept input from the whole of the community.
The proposition only makes sense if we confuse “good of the whole” with “identity of the whole.” The Republican Party has an identity; that identity is stated in the party platform, a set of propositions and identifying statements about what the party supports and what it opposes. The same reality shapes the Democrat Party, and any other party. (It is true the Dems permit independent voters to vote in their primary, but that is their business and their prerogative; they do not permit Republicans or affiliated members of other parties the franchise in their primary.) To say an organization exists for the benefit of the community is not to say it exists for the pleasure of the community, in effect, at the pleasure of those community members who do not identify with the organization. Courts have repeatedly ruled that organizations are entitled to set their own by-laws and membership requirements without interference. Yet an initiative that enshrines such interference would neatly bypass most if not all court challenges. This initiative must be stopped for the sake of common decency and respect for personal and organizational identity.
But here comes the lie. Debbie Reid-Oleson, one of the founders of the coalition claims to be one of 200,000 independent voters who are robbed of their right to vote by a closed primary. “It’s wrong to be forced to join a political party just to exercise our right to vote.” Reality is, no one is being forced to do anything. If Reid-Olesen wants to vote, she need only register. If she wants to vote in an in-house election – a closed primary – she needs to register as a Republican and (presumably) adhere to the basic values of that party. The catch is she will be allowed to vote (in-house) in only the primary of her affiliation; she is not invited to be a butterfly throughout the parties, attempting to force her will on them so she can be personally happy with whomever they choose as their respective standard bearers. Each party enters the state’s general election with a discrete program it hopes all or most all of the voters will embrace. It is at that point Reid-Olesen and her brethren get to say yay or nay across the board.
But here the initiative gets sneakier – and uglier. The Open Primaries Initiative would create a top four ranking of vote winners. Those candidates of all stripes and types who gain a position amongst the top four would advance to the general election. In that contest voters would rank their choices. In the (highly probable in a field of four) event no one reaps a majority of votes the second, third, and fourth choices would be ranked as well as compiled. The candidate receiving a majority of all places or rankings would be declared the winner. The candidate receiving the most first-choice votes is not necessarily – or even frequently – the eventual winner. It is a lot like running a contest between an Eagle Scout, a convicted felon, and a couple of second degree burglars. With rank choice voting the odds favor final victory for one of the criminals albeit the Eagle Scout garnered the most first place votes.
I lived in the Australian Capitol Territory for fifteen months. I watched my brother-in-law run for a seat in the Territorial Assembly – the equivalent of an American state’s house of representatives. Peter was the top vote getter in a field of five; his seat was given to one of the other four – I think that person actually came in third in the initial balloting – rank choice voting did its dirty little job. Open primaries and rank choice voting have virtually destroyed democracy in a great nation. We need not let that happen here. We must not let that happen here.
Of course, leftists will say – and rightly so – it is the Christians imposing their extremist views who are the problem. These Christians think they can tell the rest of us when human life is worth saving and how many genders there are. Now they want to say you can only vote in a party primary if you belong to their party; otherwise you are breaking their God’s law.
This is true; pre-believers are law breakers if they disrespect respect God’s universally known fair play. It is equally true that the freedom for which we Christians stand is for everyone, believer or no. And it is just as true that – should God ever stand for election – they won’t get to vote in His primary.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation– available at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.