Open Primaries

posted 1/27/10
Cleared for the June Ballot

Open Primaries:

There is a measure on the ballet to change the California Constitution to allow open primaries.

Open primaries are those in which persons may vote for whomever they please in a primary election regardless of party affiliation.

Like so many things in the land of the free, voting for just anyone isn’t allowed everywhere. Some states do allow for open primaries, but many states, like California are half-ways on it. Currently in CA, Democrats allow Dems and independents to vote in their elections; Republicans only allow Republicans to vote in their primaries.

The actions of all political parties are contained in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Parties have the right, some claim, to restrict primaries to the members of their party. After all, he or she is to represent that party’s platform.

Some parties complain (to the Supreme Court) that open primaries violate the right to free association.

In a real sense, we can see that it certainly does sound fair for only Republicans to be allowed to vote in Republican primaries; after all, it’s their primary.

Further, what is to stop the Democrats from getting together and voting for the weakest Republican candidate? Of course, they could not then vote for a Democratic candidate and the weakest Dem might be elected. If that happens, we’ll have the weakest Republican candidate and the weakest Democrat, and government will only get worse, an evolution that selects for the weakest competitor; like television.

On the other hand, though, the two party system in the U.S. has a stranglehold on politics. The two grizzled giants, Republican and Democrats, each rely on the other to keep smaller, more progressive, or at least more representational, parties out.

By doing so they limit our political philosophy, and together they represent a duopoly, a government of two. In other countries, the parties decide who they are going to vote for, nominate that person, and that process constitutes their "primary election". Only party members, and indeed party delegates, are allowed to vote. However, when the election comes, people vote for whom they wish.

The open primary produces the "top two contenders". It’s even possible for two Republicans or two Democrats to face each other in the general election! Stranger yet, someone who is neither Repub or Dem might win! Weird politics!

Open primaries acknowledge what we already witness in the general election: we all need to vote for who our leaders are.

The text of the amendment is found HERE.

If you like the idea of open primaries, go HERE

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