Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday of Holy Week

The Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee defeated a resolution at the weekend that would have declared the party to be in support of closed primaries in this State. While I have no problem with closed primaries at all, the issue is not one worth dividing the GOP over, and there seem to be all kinds of myths circulating about closed primaries:

For this writer, the biggest reason to close the primaries in Tennessee is to allow for a person's party identification to have a greater meaning. The world knows that this writer is a Republican because he has made it a point to say so and to be as active as possible in local Republican politics. For most average voters, however, they don't have the time, energy, or in some cases the money to do that. A closed primary that allowed a person to register as Republican or Democrat would allow more Tennesseans who might want to be involved to become active in a precinct and ultimately active in the party because they cared enough to register. A closed primary would also keep those unwilling to register a party out of primaries, keeping primaries to voters who want to make their party membership known to all.
However, the idea that a closed primary would keep those who truly identify with the other party out of one party's process is a romantic fiction. In order for any primary not to violate the Voting Rights Act or equal protection laws, there has to be a relatively easy process to change party affiliation, and that reality by itself means that crossover voting would continue even with a closed primary system. Tennesseans are simply not used to the idea of closed primaries, and attempting to press the issue when there is not sufficient support inside the GOP does little to advance the Republican Party, only serving to divide the party moving into a critical election year.

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