The title of my editorial last week was “Should Primary Elections be Decided by the Parties, Part One.” If you missed it, it is online. I hope you do read it, because I believe the issues discussed in this series are important and each part will build on preceding editorials.
I used that title because last week was primary election week in South Carolina. Both major political parties had numerous races throughout the state, at all levels, where individuals were seeking their parties “nomination” to run in the November general election, where they will then face off against the opposing party, if there is indeed a challenger in the general election.
For a complete list of primary races last week around the state, as well as the results, you can go here: http://www.enr-scvotes.org/SC/75708/Web02-state.203322/#/. Counting only federal, state legislature and state-wide primaries, there were 58 such races. If you add local and county races, the number is significantly higher. Edgefield County had two primary races for two of our five County Council seats. One was a Republican Primary, the other was a Democrat Primary. Neither of these seats who faced a challenger in the party primary will face a challenger in the general election this November, meaning the individual who won the party primary in June will be uncontested in the general election this November. Generally, the reason for this is due to the way district lines are drawn, which may be addressed in a future editorial.
I changed the title this week to “Registration by Party, Part Two” because that is the vernacular which is used in the effort to have citizens register to vote by party. The reality is this series will cover a range of electoral issues, which will ultimately address the principles outlined in the platform of each party.
In my honest opinion, this shouldn’t be that complicated; however, for several reasons, the issue does indeed become complicated. Due to the constraint of space, I will share two reasons this week:
First, disengagement, or lack of participation, allows the issue to become complicated. As witnessed in last weeks’ Primary vote, statewide over 80 percent of registered voters choose not to vote in the primary election. When the vast-majority of citizens choose to not participate in the electoral process, it makes it easy for a small percentage to steer the ship of public policy as well as control the narrative we hear in all forms of media.
Second, soundbites sound good, and are easily followed. Simple soundbites, which sound good, don’t allow deeper inspection into the issue. One soundbite often heard from those opposing registration by party is, “people over party.” In other words, we shouldn’t have closed primaries, because we are voting for a person, not a party.
While that sounds innocuous and helpful, the reality is people are voting for individuals who have a worldview. The job of the electorate during a primary is to identify the candidates worldview and ensure it aligns with the party they choose to run under, especially if it is the party we are engaged in. If, and when the candidate wins, our job as the electorate is to hold them accountable to the principles they ran under. That after all, is the purpose of the primary. Our job then isn’t simply to vote for the individual we like the most, because he is our neighbor and he tells great jokes!
To those who say, “People over Party,” my reply is, “Principles determine Platform. Our job is to defend the platform of the party our individual worldview aligns with.”
More next week. Here’s wishing you a productive week.