Here is my belated commentary on a post at The Mason Conservative.
Elections aren’t won or lost by the means of nomination but rather by the quality of the candidate, their campaigns, and the mood of the electorate. Whether its 15,000 activists are a paltry 1% of the electorate in a primary, there is no guarantee one way or another. Let me go back to 2001 and work our way forward:
- 2001 (convention): Earley (loss), Katzen (loss), Kilgore (win)
- 2002 (primary): Warner (win, unopposed)
- 2005 (primary): Kilgore (loss), Bolling (win), McDonnell (win)
- 2006 (primary): Allen (loss, unoppsoed)
- 2008 (convention): Gilmore (loss)
- 2009 (convention): McDonnell (win), Bolling (win), Cuccinelli (win)
- 2012 (primary): Allen (loss)
- 2013 (convention): Cuccinelli (loss), Jackson (loss), Obenshain (undecided)
So what’s my comment about?
In one respect, the The Mason Conservative is spot on. That is, if the argument is solely about selecting which Republican nominee can win, then it makes sense to look at the statistics and see what works. However, it is not the viewpoint of the Republican Party that matters. When we speak about politics and the political process, we need to first look at which processes best protect the liberty of our people. Which method of nomination comports best with a constitutional republic and best protects our rights?
Why do Establishment Republicans like primary elections? Primary elections favor the status quo, the people already in power. Effectively, when we have primary elections, we put The Establishment in charge of how political parties select their nominees.
Consider that Democrats and Republican politicians control the government. Establishment Democrats and Republicans like primary elections because they help to ensure their reelection and make third party movements next to impossible. Thus, primary elections help to make it difficult to throw the bums out, and that makes primary elections decidedly unhealthy for a constitutional republic.
On the other hand, when we have a convention, political activists retain full control of the process, and that is the way it should be. Why? Anybody can be a political activist. If we don’t like what the political activists in one political party are doing, we can always join a different party — so long as the government permits it.
Political parties exist to implement this part of the First Amendment: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s why government should have no say in how a political party selects its nominees. To protect those in power — if allowed to interfere — government can and will only corrupt the process.
Instead of holding primaries, we should allow for the possibility of at least two rounds in the general election. Why two rounds? Consider what can happen in an election with more than two candidates on the ballot. What if no candidate gets 50 percent or more of the vote? Do we actually know which candidate is the most popular? No. However, if we have a runoff between the two top vote getters, we can solve that problem.
With a runoff election, we could have avoided the mess we had in Virginia’s last gubernatorial election. Without a third party candidate in this race, the Republican candidate may have won, but without a runoff election we have no certain way of knowing. We just know that many Republicans feel cheated because they believe that the third party candidate, Robert Sarvis, pealed off votes that might have gone to Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate.
In addition, with the possibility of a runoff election, more people would risk giving third party candidates a second look. Thus, the Republicans and the Democrats might have to pay more serious attention to voters and party activists and less attention to their campaign donors.
- Tea party critics blast ‘incumbent protection act’ approved by Republican-led Michigan Senate (mlive.com)
- The Cuccinelli Blame Game And The GOP Civil War (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Blaming Conventions (washingtonmonthly.com)