Yesterday I served as one of many volunteers helping to make a go of the Republican Party’s 2019 Prince William County Firehouse Primary. It was a long day, grueling because it required the full attention of someone with a short attention span, but it was worth it.
What is a firehouse primary? It is a primary election that a political party runs on its own WITHOUT the dubious assistance of the government. Why is that important? The more entangled a political party is with the government the more that party becomes an organ OF THE GOVERNMENT.
Have you ever wonder why it is so difficult to establish a genuine third political party in this country? Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to get the grip of establishment politicians off the reins of power even when Congress is terribly unpopular? Well, the answer is that to a large extent incumbent politicians control the processes that nominates candidates for office. That means politicians are not answerable to the parties that nominate them.
Think about it. Don’t government-run primaries favor incumbents with the help of donors with big bucks? Is that not why politicians set up government-run primary elections? When politicians are generous with other people’s money, are they not almost always most generous to themselves?
Consider the RESULTS OF THE 2019 PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY FIREHOUSE PRIMARY. Then observe:
- Prince William County Republican Committee discouraged Democrats from participating in its primary. Republicans made it clear that people who did not intend to support the winner of the primary in the general election would not be welcomed. They did not want Democrats coming to the polls just to vote for what they perceived would be the weaker candidate. If nothing else, Republicans wanted people to care enough to find out what was going on and learn how to participate.
- Interested people are easier to reach. Lots of advertising dollars are required to gain the interest of the half-hearted, but the interested just need to be told where to look for information. Hence, firehouse primaries allow low-budget candidates with enthusiastic volunteers to be competitive. Such challenges force incumbents to consider themselves answerable to their party, the people who nominated them in the first place.
Do you want the politicians you vote for to be answerable for their conduct? Then reward the political parties that do their best to hold the people they nominate accountable.