Open Primaries STILL Suck

I’ve already explained why I think open primaries like the ones we have in Tennessee are stupid and suck. But a whole bunch of Bernie people are complaining that they were disenfranchised by New York’s closed primary this week, and they are saying all primaries should be open, which I think is idiotic. So it seems I need to do some more explaining for the newbies.

1- First of all, primaries are to elect a party’s candidates. If you are too independent to join a party, then stop whining about not being able to pick the candidates of the party you refuse to join. It’s like insisting on choosing the main dish of a dinner you refuse to attend.

Nobody has to vote in a primary. You’re not disenfranchised if you can’t. The primary is not the election. You independent thinkers get to vote in the general election and when you do, you will get to pick from about a dozen or more candidates. Not just the top Democrat and Republican.

It really is incomprehensible to me that people are complaining about this. And yes, it’s the Bernie people. You wanted to vote for Bernie in the primary? Then guess what: Your beef is with Bernie. He’s the one who chose to run for president as a Democrat, when he’s been an Independent for his entire political career. If he hadn’t made that decision, then you’d get to vote for Bernie in November … and you’d get to vote for him against Hillary, Jill Stein, the Republican nominee (Trump or Cruz or whomever), etc.

2- And speaking of Jill Stein, how come all of this complaining is just focused on the Democratic primary? I don’t hear people saying they want to pick the Republican nominee, too. Or the Green Party nominee. Or the Libertarian nominee. Hey, here’s a news flash: they have Green Party primaries, too! Guess what, you weren’t invited. Whaah! Disenfranchised all over again!

Again, all these folks really are complaining about is that they couldn’t vote for Bernie, and that onus is on the candidate, not the process.

2- Election day problems in New York have nothing to do with whether the primary is open or closed. Showing up to vote in the primary and finding your registration was mysteriously changed or disappeared happens all the damn time and it has nothing to do with the primary being opened or closed. Have we all forgotten that time former Congressman Lincoln Davis showed up to vote in Tennessee’s open primary and found he’d been purged from the voter rolls? Have we forgotten the 2012 Tennessee primary when Democrats were given Republican ballots, even though — and I repeat myself — we have an open primary? Hell, I remember working the 2006 general election and voters telling me they were asked a party preference … for the general! That’s a huge no-no.

So yes, stuff gets fucked up, and that’s wrong, and it needs to be fixed, but it isn’t like open primaries and generals don’t also get fucked up.

3- How hilarious is it that the candidate who claimed from day one that he’s running “to bring new people into the process” and “bring back those who have given up on the process” actually forgot to tell his voters about the fucking process? I’m just laughing my ass off on this one. What a major fail this represents for his campaign. Nobody in his campaign thought his voters might need to be told how to register? When to register? All of those rallies he held with thousands of people attending, were there no voter registration tables set up? Was it all just for the cameras and the soundbites? Guess so. Seriously, nothing screams “not ready for prime time” like overlooking basic GOTV stuff in your campaign that’s supposedly targeting newbies.


Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election

30 responses to “Open Primaries STILL Suck

  1. Jim in Memphis

    I agree with everything you wrote here. This is why I don’t vote in primary elections even though we do have open primaries. I don’t feel that I should be selecting a party nominee when I am not a member of the party.

  2. Kathleen

    Righteous rant as always, Ms. Beale. I’ll be so glad when the BernBots can find a different group to terrorize and whine about.

  3. mcearlgrey

    You hit the nail on the head about Bernie’s GOTV failing to let partisans know about the process they’d have to go through in order to vote for him in a closed primary, but I don’t really get opposition to open primaries on principle. The fact that we have contested general elections is a testament to the fact that people go back and forth between partisan allegiances, and that could be solved by same-day voter reg, but a lot of states don’t have that.

    Hey, listen, as a Bernie voter who’s not crazy about Hillary but is happy to vote for her in the general, can we stop going after each other on a personal level? The most ardent and vocal supporters of any candidate tend to be the most obnoxious. We need each other for November.

    • Well see my first link for why I’m opposed to open primaries in general. I don’t think a Republicans should be picking my candidates, nor do I think I should pick theirs.

    • Jim in Memphis

      An open primary is like letting members of KKK vote for who heads the NAACP.

    • Closed primaries are party primaries. Why would anyone expect to be able to choose the candidate for a political party that they don’t belong to? Form a party and get your party on the ballot if you don’t like any of the other parties. Since so many choose to register as independent, why not set up an Independent Party? I’m with SB. All party primaries should be closed.
      Whatever happened with the purging from the voter rolls in Brooklyn had nothing to do with the closed primary.

      Sanders supporters seem willing to send campaign contributions and show up by the thousands to cheer at his rallies, but either the leadership is missing, or they are not willing to do the hard ground work to gather votes to win primaries and pledged delegates. Learn how to play the game before you whine about the rules mid-game.

  4. It’s a mess. California’s Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act has already created elections where the top two candidates in congressional elections are either both democratic or both republican.

    It’s the option of the parties what they will allow in a presidential primary. Which I guess we can be thankful for.

    • Oh god that’s a new one. California used to be a closed primary. They ruined it!

    • Top 2 open primaries also suck because they lead to all kinds of political gamesmanship. It’s entirely possible for the two candidates to be from the minority party because they’re the only ones from their party running while the majority party splits its vote more ways. It’s a neat sounding idea, but in practice it’s terrible.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. And open primaries are a recipe for shenanigans and sabotage.

  6. Democommie

    I live in NY and I am fine with FOLLOWING THE FUCKING LAW, AS WRITTEN, I haven’t voted in a primary since 2006, because I’m an (I). Bernie’s people weren’t the only ones who couldn’t vote. The Dongald kids (who have prolly NEVER voted) were also unable to vote for the Dongald.

  7. Bob Fischer

    I suppose it depends on how one feels about free open elections and the democratic process. Perhaps the independents should be allowed to choose from all the candidates on the ballot and then let the respective parties choose what they want to do or not do with independent support or opposition. It doesn’t seem right to disenfranchise the number of people New York disenfranchised. Every vote should be count for something. What I find interesting is how convinced Hillary’s supporters seem to be that she would have been trounced had the independent vote been heard. There seems to be a lot of gloating about the process. It makes me wonder.
    I think this chart is apropos and, at this point, perhaps Hillary’s strongest argument that she deserves the nomination. I don’t think bragging about denying Sanders supporters access to the polls is near as strong an argument. If indeed what we learn from this election is that there must be a better way, then we should look for a better way. If the winner of the popular vote also wins through our electoral process, then I would view that as a pretty strong indicator that the system is working.

    • Perhaps the independents should be allowed to choose from all the candidates on the ballot and then let the respective parties choose what they want to do or not do with independent support or opposition.

      Independents can vote for independent candidates in general elections, where they do the very thing you are talking about: choosing from all of the candidates on the ballot. Saying you want to have a voice in who a political party picks for its nominees is sorta defying the whole point of being an independent. You’re either independent or you’re not. You can’t have it both ways.

      Jesus I can’t believe I have to explain this to people. New York people weren’t disenfranchised. They get to vote in the general. And I haven’t heard any Hillary supporter say she would have been trounced “had the independent vote been heard.”

      And again, your complaint is with Bernie, not Hillary. Bernie is not a Democrat. He’s never been a Democrat. He chose to run as a Democrat and thereby “disenfranchised” his own followers. If he stayed an Independent you could still vote for him, against Hillary and everyone else, in November. Now you can’t and you want to blame that on Hillary? Uh-uh.

      • Bob Fischer

        I haven’t blamed anything on Hillary, or Bernie. My point is that if one values a vote of conscience over a partisan selection and registers as an independent, or a member of a party for that matter, then , in a democratic election, primary or general, they should have the option of exercising that vote for whomever they choose. I did not say they should have a voice in either party’s nomination process, I said they should be afforded the chance to vote for their choice of candidate. That is what a democracy means.

        To your point that only those votes cast in a party primary can count at the primaries convention, I would agree and note that some of the various primary systems have been generous to Sanders and some to Clinton. That’s how it is in the big people’s world and hopefully young voters drawn to this election that view registering as an independent as a mistake will learn from their experience.

        I would opine that without knowing who they would have voted for, it’s hard to say which candidates voters would have claim to disenfranchisement. Frankly, Hillary did not show as strong as I would have expected in New York, and I have to wonder if indeed some of the support I figured she would have was hidden in the independent votes. It’s hard to say, because, as you note, they’re independent and there’s no way of knowing.

        As to the independents being disenfranchised, certainly some were and some were probably right where they wanted to be. If there was an institutionalized effort to disenfranchise via a skewing of the rules (and I don’t know one way or another if there were nor do I have an opinion) then it would be up to the parties or courts to decide.

        While we’re playing true confessions here, in 1980 I crossed over and voted in the Republican primary for GHW Bush because I felt Ronald Reagan was quite possibly the most dangerous politician in the history of the nation and that his voo-doo economic plan would lead to the destruction of America. And I was right. And I believe in open primaries because if you take away voters of conscience then what you are left with is mob rule, not democracy. I’m a Democrat because we are the party that has a philosophical foundation closest to mine, not because I’m dedicated to partisan principles. I’m a Democrat because it’s most often the right thing to be, not so I can sneak in candidates due to squirrelly skews in the rules.

        As to my having a complaint about New York, it would be that only 34% of registered Democrats voted. As a party primary election, I would have expected this one to have generated more interest than that. Without knowing how the independent vote is going to fall, which we don’t do to the system, I find the low turnout disturbing. What if the independents swing to Trump? We need New York.

      • I’m sorry I don’t understand why this is so hard for people to understand. Why do you think you should get a “vote of conscience” in a primary? IT’S A PRIMARY. You get your “vote of conscience” in the general election. That’s what a general election is. That’s when you vote for who you want to be in that seat. And you can vote for whomever the fuck you want.

        Primaries are not for that. Primaries are when PARTY MEMBERS PICK THEIR CANDIDATES. You are not a member of the party. So you do not get to vote. It’s like saying I want a “vote of conscience” in the Australian elections. Sorry but you aren’t eligible to vote in the Australian elections.

        This is so fucking stupid. I learned this shit in 6th grade civics class. People complaining about it DO NOT UNDERSTAND BASIC CIVICS. You obviously do not understand the point of a primary and why we have them. It’s not mob rule IT’S A FUCKING PRIMARY. Stop confusing it with a general election. Crack a book, people. You’re showing your ignorance of basic civics.

        As a party primary election, I would have expected this one to have generated more interest than that.

        Yeah that’s what happens when revolutions fail. Bernie’s revolution failed to show up. He wanted to transform the Democratic Party and it didn’t happen. He should have stayed an independent. It’s where he belongs, it’s where his supporters are, and it’s how the system is set up.

  8. Bob Fischer

    As you point out, in New York it didn’t matter if Bernie’s revolution showed or not. The rules of New York’s primary would have likely precluded his chance of victory. The problem is that Hillary’s people didn’t show up. Why will this outcome differ from the general? There is a reason Nixon got rid of civics, you know, and I large part of that reason was that it would make it easier to rig elections. Voting rights are determined by place of residence first and foremost. Next, they are restricted by arbitrary rules set by those who run elections. There are many of us who view voters rights as sacred and who believe in expanding access to the polls. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but as you note in your opening essay, it is just that. Open primaries are a fact and I prefer them and believe they are more conducive to a democracy.

    • The problem is that Hillary’s people didn’t show up. Why will this outcome differ from the general?

      Because Hillary will be running against Trump, Cruz or some other awful Republican. Nobody in New York saw Bernie as a serious threat. This Dem primary is really more like an incumbent’s primary than a traditional primary. It’s really not contested. It’s closer to 2012 than 2008.

      • Bob Fischer

        That’s really been the conundrum of this election so far though, hasn’t it? People haven’t voted the way they’re supposed to. Let’s not forget that Bush’s cornerstone issue in 2004 was being against homosexual marriage. Say what you will about swift boating, that was the issue that generated his passion and drove voter turnout. Fast forward to 2016 and the Republicans are betting heavy on transgenders right to pee. Yes, it sounds stupid to me, but lots of stuff that gets people to the polls sounds stupid to me. If we could just get all these damn voters to do what they’re supposed to do these elections would be a lot easier to predict.

        It almost appears to me that there are people in power concerned about killing the goose that laid the golden egg, and that, as much as anything else, could change the dynamic of the rest of the election. As to November, at this point it’s a long way off and I’m not taking a whole lot for granted. People can be stupid. Lots of people vote against their own and this nation’s best interest. As to Bernie, I never imagined him getting this far. Worst case scenario, he’s going to get policy through, specifically a substantial raise to the minimum wage well beyond what anyone could have reasonably predicted, or we’ll see a one term president. As to Hillary, her strength has always been her intellect. She’s sharp. That’s a double edged sword sometimes when it comes to dealing with common people.

        The general election could turn ugly quickly and hinge upon events that have yet to unfold. Regardless of the nominees.

        As to comparable elections, I’m thinking maybe 1960, simply because of the nature of the candidates and the new technology being used to sway voters. I think a comparison to 2012 may be somewhat hopeful at this point. I say that because of the unknown of circumstance between now and November. Hopefully, by the convention, many loose ends will be tied up and laid to rest.

      • Bush’s cornerstone issue in 2004 was being against homosexual marriage.

        WTF alternate reality is that beamed in from? His cornerstone issue in 2004 was terra terra terra. Warren terra. It was all fearmongering, all the time. War on terror, fight the terriss “over there” in Iraq so we aren’t fighting here. Remember, we were “winning” in Iraq then. Every day we were catching the new #2 Al Qaeda guy. Gay marriage was hardly on the radar then.

        Bernie has no plan to get anything done with a Republican Congress. It goes without saying that were he to be the Democratic nominee, Republicans would Swift Boat the living shit out of him. Stuff like his and Jane’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union may be cute to the lefties now but imagine what that will turn into when it’s been put through Frank Luntz’s talking point factory, repeated over at Fox News, WingNut Daily and NewsMaxx, turned into a ridiculous meme, and email-forwarded to the Aunt Ednas and Uncle Georges in the hinterlands. John Kerry was taken down for windsurfing. Just imagine what they will do to Bernie. And he has proven himself wholly unable to handle those kinds of attacks. Hillary has been dealing with this since the ’90s.

  9. Democommie

    New York election law is deeply flawed–just like every other states’ election laws. You know how it got that way? People elected their “representtives” to go to Albany or Sacramento or Austin or whatever capitol the state lege does its “work” in. Then, once they get there, they genrally sell their souls to some organiztion–corporate, religious or political- (some overlap, there) and spend the rest of the time that they’re in the capitol pushing their paymaster’s agendas and working really, really hard, to get re-elected.

    The above scenario defines the U.S. political landscape “to a T”, and the only thing that will change it is continuous political involvement by people who hate politics because it’s so scummy.

    For the Bernie Sanders of this world to have a shot at the PotUS job they need to be supported by a PARTY of like minded folks.

    As Ms. Beale points out, Bernie’s never been a democrat, therefor his bandwagon supporters cannot, if we’re being logical, call themselves democrats. They pretty much hate what both D’s and R’s stand for. If you want a Socialist from NYC* to win, then you prolly need to think about organizing at the grassroots level like those assholes in the “Moral Majority”, so called

    * I have no problem with NYC, Socialism or Mr. Sanders.

  10. Bob Fischer

    I think you may want to re-read what was going on in 2004. Look at the numbers. People didn’t vote against Kerry as much as they stayed home. The homosexual issue worked. If you manipulate demographics well enough, small dependable shifts are the key to success.

    • No, dear. If you think gay issues not national security was the defining topic of 2004 then you clearly were not involved in that campaign. I worked the 2004 election. I was there. And it’s just not true that “people stayed home” in 2004. In fact, more people voted in 2004 than in previous elections. It was a record, since broken by 2008’s election of Barack Obama.

      2012: 129,237,642
      2008: 131,473,705
      2004: 122,303,590
      2000: 105,425,985
      1996: 96,275,640
      1992: 104,426,611
      1988: 91,594,686
      1984: 92,653,233

      (sorry, edited because I wrote 90s where I should have written 80s)

      • Bob Fischer

        Again, read the last sentence of my post and look at Ohio in 2004. If it goes to Kerry, he wins. It was a classic case of a manipulated vote. Maybe you didn’t notice the gay issue being played from the inside, but it got a lot of talk in the workplaces of America. Check the percentage of voters voting. Once again, manipulating the results of an election is a subtle art. One time the Republicans got a guy elected with a mere 486 vote swing.

      • Yeah and we also heard the vote was hacked in Ohio, PA and/or Florida because the exit polls showed Kerry won, when in fact the problem was probably with the exit polls. I’m sorry but you’re wrong on this one. You don’t have to believe me but I am positive that gay marriage was not a defining issue in the 2004 presidential race and is not why George W Bush was re-elected. It wasn’t even a compelling issue among culture war issues. Stem cell research was a much bigger deal.

  11. Bob Fischer

    You don’t have to apologize, in fact, Matthew Dowd agrees with you. He claims conservative voter numbers were up by 5% over the board, presumably because conservatives have a great grasp of economic policy. He claims that the homosexual initiatives on the ballot in 11 states and the ongoing rhetoric coming from church pulpits all over America did not affect turnout at all. Republicans are all informed reasonable voters who were showing up because the Bush economic and security plans were in the best interest of our nation. Most of the other analysts I found, as well as my personal recollection of the issue, and what I witnessed over the course of that campaign suggest otherwise. It sounds like the respect republican voters have earned from you is greater than what they’ve earned from me. Of course, I’m from Tennessee and we’re all bent out of shape right now over who gets to pee where. I suppose, to a degree, it’s what you see in everyday life. I just have a real hard time buying the ”
    intelligent, thoughtful right wing vote is what drove the Bush 2004 victory” theory though. Call me a skeptic.

    • Well, Bob, I always thought it was because George W Bush was the guy the voters most wanted to have a beer with, though I never understood why that would make him a good choice as president. I mean, how many of us have a chance to have a beer with the president?

    • I just have a real hard time buying the “intelligent, thoughtful right wing vote is what drove the Bush 2004 victory” theory ….

      Well I never said that. It was fear, not any thoughtful intelligence at work. It was amygdala-tweaking — which is the exact opposite of that. It was terrorism and terrorists and national security and support the troops and John Kerry is a hippie peacenik who betrayed his fellow soldiers and can’t be trusted to keep you safe. That’s how I remember it and I don’t know who Matthew fucking Dowd is but he’s wrong, too.

  12. Democommie

    I think tht amygdala tweaking is being offered at all of the Trumpbaggist events; sortalike.