Today’s Courier Herald Column:
“Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party
affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?”
Now we’re talking. …about the inside baseball of Georgia politics. How many Georgians are losing
sleep at night wondering or worrying about whether or not folks who vote in Georgia’s primaries have
registered their party affiliation when they registered to vote, or at least 30 days before a primary? Not
many. Those that do are worried about keeping the majority power they have obtained.
Political super majorities often act in a bi-polar fashion. There is a supreme arrogance of power that
they and their members are untouchable and cannot be beat. After all, “they’ve been doing these
things for years and they keep getting re-elected”.
But many within these majorities do not sleep well at night. They live in bubbles surrounded by
sycophantic suck ups and are generally distanced from any real unpleasantness. Yet doubts persist,
paranoia creeps in, and eventually the untouchable class begins to feel they must begin tweaking the
rules in order to ensure that their power is never challenged.
Democrats did this often when they were the super-majority power in Georgia. Straight ticket balloting
was eliminated when it was believed it was hurting Democrats more than helping them. Runoff rules
were changed to allow for victories of less than 50% in some races.
This ballot question appears to be of a similar vein, and will likely have more effect on the psyche of
hyper-partisans than it will on the results of many elections.
Republicans are worried that now they are the only game in town, great unwashed masses of
independents and even Democrats will begin to vote in Republican primaries. This would cause great
issues for Republicans who put issues aside every two years and run campaigns designed to ensure they
they hate homosexuality, illegal immigration, Sharia Law, and abortion more than the person they are
running against. Allowing voters into these currently open contest would just muddy these tried and
Imagine the horror of incumbents and their well paid consultants if they had to run campaigns
explaining why Georgia’s taxes on consumers continues to rise while any industry that asks can have
a tax break designed for it? Or if voters demanded to know why the legislature was so keen on giving
Georgia Power $1 Billion dollars in advance profits on a plant that has yet to be built? And why those
large companies were exempt from paying for that other large companies profit so that the share from
each of us for that plant had to be increased?
No, answering silly policy questions such as those would be too much for a campaign. Instead, it’s best
to keep people who think independently and ask rogue policy questions as far away from primaries as
possible. This ballot question is behind a move to attempt to keep parties pure.
Republicans would do well to remember that there are still places here in Georgia where they are not
the majority party. DeKalb county Republicans still take credit for crossing over into a Democratic
primary in order to defeat incumbent Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The voting record of Wright
McLeod in GA-12 has come under scrutiny because he has voted in mostly Democratic primaries,
ostensibly because that’s where his local leaders are chosen. (…which comes nowhere near explaining
why he voted in the 2008 Presidential Preference Primary where only presidential candidates were on
the ballot. That’s a column for another day, however.)
Georgia currently has a system of open primaries. It generally works well, and has the effect of some
leveling a playing field when an area tips too far into super-majority status.
Changing the rules now would help Republicans on their never ending quest for purges over purity.
The problem when people start getting purged is there is less diversity of thought and more coalescing
around positions that are not where the middle independent voter is.
Republicans should think this one over carefully. A ballot question designed to move the party even
further to the right may also help it move away from the majority it took a century to make. I’ll take the
status quo, as it seems to have served Republicans well. Those that want change best be careful what
they are actually wishing for.