Thursday, April 21, 2011

Primary Colors

Whether or not we ought to have closed primaries in Tennessee is an issue that is certainly drawing spirited debate:

This writer actually favors adopting a closed primary because doing so could actually lead to increased involvement in our political parties. Having to declare your party as a matter of record in order to vote in its primary gives a voter a sense of belonging that just doesn't come from the current system that we have in Tennessee. We need to keep the discussion about closed primaries open and truly consider and study the idea in an honest way before rendering a negative judgment. In discussing the resolution with many people in the community that this writer respects, it seemed to me that a common reaction among some very good people was one of fear. State Executive Committeeman Ken Gross of the 7th District is genuinely concerned about what he has called "closing the tent", but he grew up with what we are calling-and it is really a misnomer-an "open primary." Most Tennesseans have never known another system that the primary voting methods we currently use. Because this writer has voted in a closed primary system before, he knows generally what to expect if the primary ever were to close and what would be expected of him as a voter and as a Republican. He is also aware from experience that it doesn't put an undue burden on voters, it just makes them declare a party preference. Further, moderates not only can win closed primaries, they very often do win them-so the issue of "closing the tent" is moot-Lamar Alexander, Howard Baker, or Bob Corker, three of Tennessee's great leaders among moderate Republicans, could still win a Statewide closed primary.

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