The Problem With Open Primaries


Well, the first round of the wasteful 2011 Wisconsin primary elections are over, and, unsurprisingly, the real democrats beat the fake democrats nominated by Republicans to slow down the recall process. Here are the results, as reported by

As you can see, the real Democrats won handily. But… what about all those votes for the fake candidates? I figure that they must fall into one of two categories-

(1) Republicans seeking to undermine the primary process, or at least to protest the very idea of a recall election in present circumstances.

(2) Democrats that are so uninformed they don’t know they are voting for fake candidates.

Let’s take (1) first. The Republicans who nominated the fake Democrats got what they wanted: a delay in the general election. Why would they go on to actually vote for the fake Democrat? No doubt, to express their displeasure at the audacity of those who want a recall election to begin with. But here’s the rub: what if they actually won? Notice that in District 10, only about 10 percentage points separated the two candidates. If, due to Democratic voter apathy (or simply their ignorance of the danger), the fake Democrat had actually won, that would have undermined the electoral process; after all, a primary election is supposed to allow a party to pick its candidate. If the fake Democrat had won, this would have undermined not only the Democratic Party; it would have undermined democracy itself (and by the way, these same points apply to the upcoming primaries involving the fake Republicans that were nominated in response to the nomination of the fake Democrats – I hope that Democrats won’t vote in those elections). I understand the impulse to cast a protest vote, and Republicans will have a fair chance to have their voices heard on general election day, but we just witnessed the problem with open primaries (i.e., those in which members of one party can cast a vote for a candidate of another party): they invite anti-democratic, ultimately anti-American consequences.

As for (2)… well, let’s just hope that few votes fell into that category.