Third Party & Independents Archives

Government Intervention in Partys' Policies

The state of Michigan has decided to flaunt the rules of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) by setting a state presidential primary election date of January 15. I am no fan of either of the two major parties (I generally chuckle when the leadership of either gets a little bent out of shape), but as a pragmatic libertarian, this move by Michigan bugs me. Of course, this confrontation between the national parties and the states has been a long time coming.

State governments have no business weighing in on when or how a political party, a private organization, chooses who will run for office on its ticket. The whole "presidential primary" system is a joke. Heck, in the 'open primary' state in which I grew up (Washington), you don't even have to be a member of the political party for which you cast your vote in the primary, meaning that a voter could very well vote for the person in the other party they think actually has the least chance of winning the general election... but I digress. On to the Michigan problem...

The DNC and RNC both have rules for how their parties go about choosing their candidates for the general election. In caucus states (like Iowa and Nevada) these parties have the freedom they need to conduct their business, as the caucuses are run according to how the party wants them to be run. But in states with primaries it is a different story altogether. The state government decides which parties get on the ballot, when the primary will be held, and according to what rules. We need to remember something here... this is not the general election where the winner actually takes office. This is a vote to decide who will get to run on which party's ticket. When a state government interferes in how a party decides who will run on its ticket, the state then makes the two major parties an official part of government, and therein lies the problem.

No one would argue that the two major parties are firmly entrenched in their positions, so although this fight between Michigan and the DNC and RNC is newsworthy for now, it is really nothing more than a minor nuisance, as the primary system only works to further entrench these two parties in their positions. But for an independent/third party voter, the primary system works to undermine our democracy and continue the notion that only a democrat or republican can win. States with a presidential primary election are making the two major parties an officially unofficial arm of their government. Libertarians and Greens do not get the same treatment, and the message from the state is that they never will.

In his farewell address, George Washington warned against the growing power of political parties:

"...the common & continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it."

Good advice for people... better advice for government.

Posted by Doug Langworthy at September 16, 2007 9:26 PM
Comments
Comment #233156

Living in Michigan, the decision was made by both parties and I think it is a non-issue. I myself feel the primaries should be outlawed, because nowhere in the constitution does it say if you don’t get x-percentage in a primary you can’t be on the ballot, but I also understand that the ballots might be very very long.

According to the info given out, the change was to get the politicans who are running to come to Michigan and give their views and make Michigan more then a second thought state.

KT

P.S. Last one in Michigan please turn off the lights.

Posted by: KT at September 17, 2007 10:40 AM
Comment #233157

So, KT, it basically comes down to each state wanting to be important in the primary process. But why don’t the parties just make their primary on the same day? Instead of having them spread out and each state fighting for getting people to ‘come to the state’, just have all Democratic primaries on June 2nd? Doesn’t this make more sense? I’ve never understood the advantage of Iowa having such a disproportionate say in determine who are candidates will be…

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 17, 2007 10:43 AM
Comment #233163

KT… from my understanding of it, this decision was a legislated one, made by both both parties in the state house and the governor, all of which need to get re-elected and they can all run on the platform of “I fought to make Michigan relevant!”… and what Michigander wouldn’t vote for that? But here’s the rub… it was a legislated decision and not one made by the parties themselves.

Again, IMhumbleO, government has no business legislating who/what/when/where/how the parties, private organizations, decide who runs on their tickets.

You are correct, though, in that ultimately this particular case is a non-issue as it will blow over soon enough. But it is a symptom of a much larger problem. Reps and dems cannot continue to be the fourth and fifth branches of government, and our current system places them as such.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 17, 2007 11:26 AM
Comment #233225

OMG! I agree with Rhinehold!

Have one nation-wide primary vote/caucus to determine the candidates. That way, no one state can set the course for any party.

It’s Iowa’s fault that Kerry got the nom in 2004. I say that Iowans should not be allowed to pick another loser like Kerry.

Posted by: Michael at September 17, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #233229

Michael… as long as it is the parties determining the logistics of their nation-wide caucus (read: not primary!), and not the government, then great.

Far be it for me to say what the republi-crats should do, but it seems to me they should rotate so that every state gets the chance to be in the spotlight here and there. There is probably a reason why people in New Hampshire and Iowa are fairly well informed and the people of Washington give a rat’s a$$.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 17, 2007 6:00 PM
Comment #233601

Hey I never said I was for it. I don’t agree with primaries anyway. It was a decision made by both parties and signed by the Canadian person trying to run the state(yes she was born in Canada) hey.

I do have to agree, make all the cacusus, primaries etc all the same day and it would a level playing field for every state I would hope.
KT
p.s. the last person in Michigan please turn off the lights

Posted by: KT at September 20, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #233673

Doug,
Just a niggling comment. I believe you mean “flout rather than “flaunt”. Check the dictionary for the difference.

Posted by: Old Grouch at September 20, 2007 9:28 PM
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