So how do we fix our broken nominee selection system here in the U.S.? The most expedient and cost effective solution is to go back to that clichéd “smoke-filled back room” I mentioned in yesterday’s “Decision 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?” But that genie is out of the bottle. We, the people, are not likely to express the desire to relinquish control of candidate selection, even if as I demonstrated yesterday that “control” is an empty illusion.
That leaves reforming what we have. First, state party officials should be convinced to do away with caucuses if that is the system used in your state. Next, all primaries should be opened up to participation by all registered voters, be they party members, independents, or self-proclaimed members of the opposition party. For the selection system to be reformed it must be open to all regardless of affiliation, or lack of it.
The dangers of “Strategic” or “Tactical” voting. There is a popular right-wing radio host who in 2008 advocated for the reprehensible tactic of “strategic” voting. He called for members of one party to falsely identify with the opposition party to allow them to participate in that party’s primary and vote for the perceived weakest candidate. The obvious and not-very-subtle subtext was, “We might not be able to beat the woman, but there’s no way in hell the black guy is ever going to get elected.” Well, that didn’t work out very well for this waste of oxygen and his followers, now did it. Nevertheless the danger of this type voting is very real, and can easily tip the scales right back to what we have today — two fatally flawed candidates. The only difference being that the other side managed to screw up the election rather than the ideologues within the party.
How to combat “Strategic” or “Tactical” voting. The solution here is pretty simple. You make the “strategic voters” take public ownership of their votes. Most people in the U.S. are under the mistaken impression that they are constitutionally guaranteed a secret ballot. That’s simply not the case. While most states currently use the “Australian” or “secret” ballot system today, that is a fairly recent phenomenon. You’ll even notice that I said “most” states. Technically Washington and Oregon do not use the Australian system because all voting in those states is done by mail, and West Virginia still allows for open balloting. But, even if the U.S. did have a truly secret ballot system, that would only apply to actually electing someone. What we’re talking about here is nominating candidates, and there is no expectation or right to a secret ballot in this case. So, if someone wants to play games, how are they going to feel when their friends keep reminding the unpatriotic, un-American, half-witted “strategic voter” that, “Hey, you voted for that ‘loser’, as you call him, during the last primary, so I don’t want to hear about it. You have no credibility. None.” With internet access and modern databases there is no reason why everyone’s primary vote cannot be made public online.
All this in turn means wresting from state party leaders the rule-making for primaries. And that in turn means demanding that you be allowed to participate in all primaries funded by you, the taxpayer. And that means you have to put pressure on your state elected representatives, from your statehouse all the way to your governor. You have to act. You have to write letters. You have to organize petitions, call your friends and relatives, enlist your neighbors, and with today’s social media and internet you can be effective doing all that at the expense of just a couple of hours a week. But don’t stop at the state level. Start bugging your U.S. representative and both of your U.S. senators to act nationally to put an end to this farce.
True, a state party might opt to go with a party-financed caucus to get around this initiative, but are many of them really going to choose to leave taxpayer money on the table? Know any politician who does? Neither do I.
But this is all talk of a long-term fix. We need something we can do now, for this election. And if we can’t fix it then we must at least mitigate this upcoming train wreck. Find out how tomorrow.