Get rid of closed primaries – let independents vote!

One year ago this week, America got a wake-up call about a core problem in our politics that empowers ideological extremists and special interests…

In the tea party-driven purges of 2010, Mike Castle was considered a traitor to the conservative cause because he had a record of working across the aisle. And so they turned to activist and serial candidate Christine O’Donnell.

Keep a few things in mind. O’Donnell had just five in-state donations in the first quarter of the 2010 cycle. But in the third quarter, as the RINO-hunting fever took hold, she received a quarter-million dollars in tea party national activist cash.

On September 14, 2010, she beat Castle in a closed partisan primary in which only 32% of Republicans voted (and keep in mind that Republicans are a distinct minority in Delaware).

The result? In November, Republicans lost a Senate seat they were likely to win, especially in a GOP-leaning year…

Mayor Adrian Fenty’s story in Washington is less well known, but no less resonant. Tea party primary challenges are already infamous, but left-wing challenges to more centrist Democrats are in the process of catching up…

The real issue in his re-election, however, was his embrace of education reform, led by his controversial but nationally known schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee — one of the stars of the education reform documentary “Waiting for Superman.”

Teachers unions are among the top donors to Democratic campaigns. They expect their way to be obeyed. And they decided to use Fenty as an example. They ended up pouring about $1 million into the September closed partisan primary, in which Fenty faced City Council President Vincent Gray.

That money — and directly linked get-out-the-vote efforts — ended Fenty’s tenure as mayor despite a majority of residents saying that the city had improved under his watch…

The parties have forgotten that they are not the purpose of our politics. So here’s one reform whose time has come: Replace closed partisan primaries with open primaries — like those in California and New Hampshire and many other states — allowing independents and other candidates full access to the political process.

RTFA. There’s a bunch of details over at the original article for those of you who follow the smell of American politics – within the least progressive 2-party system ever created to satisfy the needs of corporate dollars and congressional clowns.

Open primaries only let you vote once; so, you must choose the primary you want to participate in. This whole process could be taken a couple more steps towards real democracy; but, this alone would be a big step. I would no longer have to register as a Democrat long enough to get through primary season in New Mexico – and then unregister to sleep easier as an independent.

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