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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Presidential Primaries

On City Life last Monday Producer John McDonough was riding his hobby horse about the State and City not paying for partisan elections.  Guest Representative David Nangle asserted, with Host George Anthes sitting there silent, that Primary Elections are in the Constitution.

It was at the same time I got to this passage on the Democratic Presidential Convention in 1968, in American Empire:  The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000, by Joshua Freeman:
Though coming in too late to enter most of the primaries, he nonetheless emerged as the favorite for the nomination; most states picked their national convention delegates at state conventions, which Democratic insiders dominated, while in a few of the fifteen states that held primaries Humphrey hoped to inherit delegates won by surrogates or favorite sons.
As Wikipedia, notes:
Following the 1968 convention, in which many reformers had been disappointed in the way that Vice President Hubert Humphrey, despite not having competed in a single primary, easily won the nomination over Senators Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern (who announced after the assassination of another candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy), a commission headed by Senator McGovern reformed the Democratic Party's nominating process to increase the power of primaries in choosing delegates in order to increase the democracy of the process.  Not entirely coincidentally, McGovern himself won the nomination in 1972.
So, Primaries are a creature of the political parties, a way to give more power to the individual votes and relinquish it from the hands of the Party Apparatchiks.  It was that or lose the voters.

Here is a quick look at Presidential Primaries from Wikipedia.

I am with Mr John McDonough on the Commonwealth and local communities not paying for primaries (and, I think, Kad Barma).  But, I go beyond John's point and argue that those who declare themselves "Unenrolled" 363 days of the year should not be allowed to declare themself this or that on the day of a Primary Election.  They may have good reason for not being enrolled in one party or another—like being in business in Lowell.  That said, it was a choice and choices matter.  I just don't want them wandering in and watering down my vote on who my party nominates.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Dr Anthes teaches US Government at UMass Lowell.


Craig H said...

You know I'm in full agreement public money should not be expended to finance private party elections. I would also take exception to your otherwise fair-minded point about unenrolled folks carpet-bagging in party plebiscites to point out parties also unfairly exploit municipal clerks and resources to gain free registration and record keeping resources and should feel fortunate they're getting that much of a free ride. To ask those municipalities to alter voting registration rules to suit their selfish private interests would be way over the line of reasonable and fair. Don't like it? Keep your own list and pay for your own primary.

C R Krieger said...

Partly right, but those of us who get voter rolls and voting data pay in good Yankee Dollars for that information.  I don't remember exactly, but a CD that tells me about the recent primary election will cost $15 to $20, and that for public records information.

The rest about "selfish private interests" is fair enough.  That is why I agree with John.  Let the parties try it a different way.  Go back to the good old days of 1968 and the smoke filled causcus rooms.  Back to the days when FDR dumped Vice President Henry Wallace (with good reason) and picked Senator Harry Truman to replace him when he died.

Regards  —  Cliff

Craig H said...

And what of paying good Yankee dollars for any information entitles the buyer to demand that the information be developed any differently?

And, anyway, I'm not talking about providing information--I'm talking about municipal clerks being the de facto recordkeepers for private political parties--they collect party affiliation data at registration, distribute and record primary ballots based on that data, and then "officially" post those results which the parties use to determine their nomination process. All of this is on the public nickel, and fine if we the people choose to provide the service, but please spare everyone the complaints that it doesn't suit any party quite well enough.

My preference would be for municipalities to charge fees to political parties to record party affiliations, in which case the parties can negotiate how those affiliations are recorded. In addition, fees to add party-related plebescites to public election ballots, and significant fees to hold an entire election just for parties to run primaries, should be established and levied against the parties causing all that public expense.

Craig H said...

And names appearing on ballots should be achieved the old-fashioned way--submission of signatures only. You want your party's nominee on a ballot? Get the signatures, just like everyone else is required. You want to exclude a candidate from a national debate? You can't if they qualify on enough ballots. That the D's and R's are conspiring to refuse Gary Johnson a voice before November's election is shameful and quite possibly illegal.