by Andy Schmookler
I have been told — pretty reliably — that Republicans in my part of Virginia (the Shenandoah Valley) are planning to vote in the Virginia Primary next week.
Two points to make about that report:
1) Their plans reinforce the judgment on the Trump side — including apparently the Russians — that Bernie would be the most beatable opponent for Trump to face in his bid to get re-elected. That judgment could certainly be mistaken. (In 2016, I misjudged how electable Trump would be as the Republican nominee.) But it certainly should give us pause, given how Trump getting a second term would be a national disaster of the first magnitude.
2) This kind of mischief-making by the adherents of one party in the opposing party’s decision making — which occurs in both directions — is a reason for changing some basic aspects of how politics are organized in Virginia.
I would argue that it is an infringement on the people’s right to “free association.” A political party is an association of citizens who have banded together to promote their common interests and values. The choice of who should be their leaders to contend for power in elections in order to promote those interests and values should belong to those people who have banded together. If their choice can be subverted by their political opponents, they have been robbed of an essential part of what their association is intended to achieve. (That applies to any political party.)
What justification can there be for allowing the people aligned with one party to use primary elections to sabotage the decisions of the opposing party?
That argument implies that Virginia’s political rules should be changed:
Instead of having all citizens registered in one indiscriminate pot, those citizens wishing to participate in primary elections should have to register in advance as members of the party in which they wish to have a voice.
Many other states have “registered Democrats” and “registered Republicans.” So should Virginia.
Only those citizens registered as aligned with a given political party should have the right to cast their votes in that party’s primary elections.
Those who wish to remain unaffiliated — “independents” — are entitled to do so. But it is only fair that their refusal to join any political association means that they will not be able to participate in the various parties’ process of choosing their nominees.