A friend of mine who I can best describe as “Democrat leaning” was lamenting the other day about how he really didn’t have any choices in the upcoming May 8 primary.
So I told him if he was bored with his own party maybe he should go where the action is and look at the GOP primary. Lugar v. Mourdock is the hottest political ticket in town these days and up until a few days ago Indiana was on the verge of having another presidential primary that mattered.
My buddy told me he would get back with me, but he did give me some food for thought. Why do we have primaries anyway? What’s the point?
A political primary is basically a party function where the two main parties decide whom their nominees will be in the general election. Do we really need a primary, or in other words, a taxpayer funded private event to do this?
Why can’t Republicans and Democrats simply do their own caucus or nominating convention and then put forward the candidates they want in the general election? Is all this really necessary? Do we really need to spend money holding elections and printing ballots and hiring poll workers for what should be a private political event?
How many places in Indiana only have one person running for a particular office in a primary? Heck even at the state level, the voters don’t pick the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor or Superintendent of Public Instruction nominees in a primary? They are all chosen during a state party nominating convention.
Now, this is the part where someone steps up and says we need a primary system; otherwise, the party bosses will pick who the candidates will be and outsiders would never get a chance to run or participate.
My response: So what?
A political nominating process is a private event. Let the two parties go out and recruit the best candidates, train them, give them resources and then present them to the voters. Why is this a bad thing?
However, if you must insist on a primary in hopes of keeping the flames of democracy alive and kicking, might I suggest a consolidated primary? It’s something done in my home state of Illinois for municipal elections.
Yeah, yeah I know. Mentioning Illinois and elections may not seem like the brightest thing, but hear me out on this one. During municipal elections, there are no Republican or Democratic ballots, just the individuals who are running for an office are listed, usually in the order that they filed. No one is identified by party. You go in and vote and the top two vote getters face each other in a runoff – unless one gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
The other nice thing about an Illinois consolidated primary is that if there is a runoff, the general election is held a few weeks later so voters don’t have endure a long, drawn out and at times, ridiculous, campaign season.
I think my buddy would be much more excited about a primary like this than the one we have now. In fact, I think a lot of people would.