Would Machiavelli Have Loved Open Primaries?


This question might not be as interesting as the last one I asked of the same form – Would Plato Have Loved The Bossa Nova? – but the answer to this one is more obvious and certainly affirmative. As reported by Adam Rodewald in today’s Oshkosh Northwestern

Republican Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald and State Rep. Robin Vos have both publicly stated they hope Republicans cross over and vote for Democrat Kathleen Falk in the governor’s race, according to the Associated Press. That’s because recent polls suggest Walker has a better chance of defeating Falk, a former Dane County Executive, than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the general recall election.

However, the Winnebago County Republican Party said Walker supporters could leave the governor vulnerable in his own primary if too many cross over to the other side. Walker also faces competition in Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a 23-year old from Madison, in a primary election Tuesday. Joe Malecki, communications director for the county Republican Party, said he suspects some Democrats might be voting for Kohl-Riggs to make it appear Walker is losing support within his own party.

The Winnebago County Republican Party is explicitly recommending Republicans vote in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. The party wants its members to vote for Republican protest candidate Issac Weix in an attempt to eliminate the actual Democratic challenger, Mitchell Mahlon.

Machiavelli reputedly advocated the morally problematic view that “the end justifies the means”. Even if this view were true for objectively good ends (and I doubt that it is), surely more evil has at least inadvertently been done in the name of good than in the name of evil. So anyone who thinks that this Machiavellian gaming of the political process is anything but a horrible idea should first have their conscience – and then other parts of their mind – examined. On the (controversial but widely believed) assumption that in any political debate one side would bring about a good while the other would (at least inadvertently) bring about an evil, it is obviously unwise – not to mention self-defeating – for either side to endorse or encourage the use of a deceptive tactic that could just as easily be used against it!

Since it seems clear that we shouldn’t have government or even party bosses deciding who can run in a given primary, all sides should agree: there should be no “open primaries”.