After the trouncing of Eric Cantor by Dave Brat in VA-7 there were allegations that Brat only won through the participation of Democrats in the Republican primary. Those allegations have been largely disproven, even to the point where the left-leaning Washington Post says it’s probably not the case. There’s a lot more suggestion that MS GOP primary winner Thad Cochran courted and relied on Democrat voters to defeat challenger Chris McDaniel, enough so that sitting GOP elected and others are markedly uncomfortable with how this turned out. McDaniel has said he’s not done looking into this, either, so we should all stay tuned.
This touches on something that irritates me no end and I’m aiming this at fellow Republicans as much as Democrats. In my view, you do not have a right to engage in party functions when the party in question isn’t an organization to which you belong. Democrats have no business voting in GOP primaries and Republicans should stay the hell out of the polling locations when it’s the Democrats deciding who their candidate is going to be. You see, it comes down to the freedom of association in my view. I have certain political views and positions and it’s up to me whether to commit to being a member of a given organization for the purpose of advancing those views and positions. A political party is, by definition, an organization that’s comprised of persons who share a certain set of views on political matters and exists for the purpose of electing individuals who will commit to voting accordingly or executing, faithfully, the laws passed by the legislature. When I commit to joining a given political party, I do so with the reasonable presumption that I’m going to be working with other people of like views and positions.
When my party is determining who we want to have as our candidate in a given election, it should not be a serious debate that the decision should be made by members of the party. As I’ve stated before, I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus. When we hold our annual elections to determine the slate of officers for the upcoming fraternal year, we do not open that election to people who are not brother Knights. It is not up to anyone who is not a member of the Knights to hold forth on who should lead our Council and their opinion on the matter, while theirs to hold by right, is immaterial to the decision. How is a political party any different?
Republicans should decide who is going to be their standard-bearer in an election, period. Democrats should decide who will be theirs. People who chose to remain unaligned can do so, of course, but the consequence of that action is that they don’t have a say in the decision of either party. They get their say on election day and can cast their ballot for whomever they wish, be it one of the declared candidates or someone we’ve never heard of. Members of one party, if they want to be honorable and – yes – fair about things, should never participate in the party functions of another party, whether the law allows them to or not. The fact that Virginia’s laws prohibit party registration and, therefore, closed primaries is one of the more powerful arguments to not hold primaries in the first place and all the belly aching about how awful conventions are completely miss that point.
Dave Brat’s defeat of Eric Cantor wasn’t accomplished through the participation of Democrats, the numbers show that pretty clearly. I don’t approve of the Dems coming out to vote in “our” primary but their presence didn’t change the results. If the same cannot be said about the MS primary then I would suggest that the MS GOP member’s freedom of association has been violated and I would suggest that there should be some remedy to that. Otherwise, the man going onto the ballot in their name is not truly representative of the party’s wishes.