The Missouri GOP Wakes Up
Common sense has triumphed over appearances and liberal caterwauling in the Show Me State's Republican Party. Is the Stupid Party waking from its slumber?
In "Democracy Demands Voters," an article on the op-ed page of the Oct. 26 wood pulp version of The Kansas City Star (a McClatchy newspaper), Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan wrote:
Squabbling in Jefferson City over Missouri's upcoming presidential preference primary has left many scratching their heads in wonder. Will we or won't we hold a presidential primary? If so, will those votes count or is the election nothing more than a "beauty contest?" Is having this election worthwhile?
What is Ms. Carnahan, a Democrat who failed last year in a bid for a U.S. Senate seat, concerned about? It's this:
Historically, political parties have relied on the results of primaries to allocate delegates to nominating conventions. This year, the Missouri Republican Party announced (after the state legislature's failure to move the election to a date preferred by national party leaders) that it plans to ignore the votes cast by Missourians and instead let only party members who show up at a "caucus" on March 17 decide how delegates will be awarded.
The Secretary admits that this change is perfectly legal, but she doesn't think it's "sensible or good for our democracy." But I say the Missouri Republican Party is coming to its senses.
Most of Carnahan's article is unctuous blather. But what she leaves out of her opinion piece is that Missouri has "open primaries." Which means that anyone can ask for a GOP primary ballot: anarchists, commies, Trotskyites, antivivisectionists, Occupy Wall Street thugs, 9/11 Truthers and even Robin Carnahan can vote in the GOP primary in Missouri. Does the Missouri GOP really need to hear from these people when choosing their nominating convention delegates?
The reason Democrats can vote in the GOP primaries this year is because their nominee is all but certain. It's possible that Democrats could come to their senses and nominate Erskine Bowles, but it's unlikely. So Democrats can launch their own Operation Chaos (Rush Limbaugh's fun-filled meddling in the 2008 Democrat primaries) and vote for in their opinion the weakest GOP candidate.
Also, voting in the GOP primaries might be particularly tempting for African-Americans who want to ensure that the presidency remains in black hands. (Full disclosure: This conservative writer will vote for Mr. Cain if he's the nominee, but plans to vote for Newt Gingrich in the primary. That is, if Missouri has a primary.)
Whether or not Sec. Carnahan is sincere in her views, I cannot say. However, she's laboring under a very bad idea -- that the electorate should have a say in the selection of a party's nominee:
But in recent years, state legislators have consciously moved toward encouraging wider participation by voters rather than just leaving something as important as the selection of the next president to a few party insiders.
Carnahan seems to be confusing primaries with general elections. It's "party insiders" who choose a party's nominee, not voters. Perhaps Carnahan thinks that there needs to be "wider participation by voters" in the selection of the Republican Party platform, too.
One of the most important things that state parties do is to select "party insiders" to be delegates to their nominating convention. And at their convention one would hope that these delegates would have the fortitude to choose the very best person -- even if that means ignoring the results of the primaries. That might entail drafting someone who didn't even compete in the primaries. (Maybe a John Bolton. Just sayin'.)
Too often, state GOP party insiders have chosen delegates who fall into line, rather than do their job. So we end up with nominees like Dole and McCain who, despite being heroes and great Americans, were ineffective campaigners. Will next year's delegates listen to the electorate or to their better angels? Will they choose the pussycat whose turn has come, or will they choose the tiger?
I applaud the Missouri Republican Party for its independence.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.