Now that the primary has come and gone, I feel the need to discuss the issue of Democrats registering as Republicans simply to vote in a Republican primary; more specifically, Democrat delegates registering as Republicans to vote.
I start off by saying that I understand the logic behind this move – to vote in an election you really are not supposed to in order to help elect a weaker candidate for your guy is very understandable; after all, in the end you want your guy to win. But this logic does not mean it is the right thing to do.
First and foremost, it is dishonest. This is no small issue, as an argument, can be made that voting in the other parties primary is election fraud: defined as intentional deception resulting in injury to another person (in the form of denying them the ability to represent the people). These types of actions only serve to empower Republicans to pass stricter laws regarding voting access by allowing them to say that people are purposefully harming the electoral process. By actively thumbing your nose and voting in a Republican party primary, you are giving lawmakers ammunition to make overall voting more difficult.
That alone should be enough to stop most people, however I have also heard people say that they also change parties because they hate the rules behind it. I can sympathize with this point of view as well – after all, the Democratic primary in Utah is open to any voter, regardless of party affiliation, while the Republican primary is constricted to just registered Republicans. I would love it if every citizen could play an active role in the overall selection of candidates that appear on Novembers ballot, and this mode of thought is one of the reasons why I dislike the delegate system in general. Voters should be able to choose, but, right now, they can’t. The Utah Republican Party, for better or for worse, has created its rules governing the selection of its candidates, and these rules should be respected. If Republicans within the party feel this rule should change (as I believe it should) it needs to be an internal discussion and a change in rules. After all, as a Democrat, I would be offended if a Republican told me how to run my party.
Speaking of being offended, let us not forget that Democrats, nationally and locally, were upset when Rush Limbaugh created and encouraged “Operation Chaos.” Operation Chaos encouraged Republicans to switch party lines before respective state primaries and vote for Hillary Clinton under the misguided idea that Hillary would have been easier for McCain to beat that Obama. As an Obama supporter, I was upset by such a suggestion – not because I think Rush was right, but because he has no right interfering in the internal actions of my party.
Now, even though I am not a huge fan of the delegate process, I am proud of the fact that I am a delegate. I feel that, as a delegate, I represent the party and am a flag bearer for it; I am more than a supporter of the Democratic mode of thought – as a delegate, I am actively involved within the party. Because of this heightened involvement, the party places greater responsibilities upon delegates – foremost being the selection of candidates in the first place. A hand full of people decided who would be the outright candidates on Novembers ballot; even in the cases where a primary was required, only a small number of delegates would cherry pick the names of candidates they wanted to represent the Democratic Party.
When one is a delegate, they have a greater responsibility to represent the party in a favorable light. When a delegate says that they are willing to change party affiliation simply to elect a weaker candidate, it sends a conscious message the general public that we do not have confidence in our own candidates, so we have to game the system to try and secure victory. This, perhaps, is the most damaging reason why I feel Democrats in general and delegates in particular, should not vote in Republican primaries – it implies weakness. We should be proud of our candidates, and show this pride by volunteering, donating money, or running for office ourselves – not by trying to take down the other side. I, for one, think the Republicans do a fine job of picking terrible candidates all on their own; it is our job as Democrats to tell the public why their candidates are awful.
In the end, I feel that there needs to be a fundamental rule change within the Democratic Party to curb such actions. If it is discovered that a delegate has switched party affiliation (even if it is to harm Republicans), they should be stripped of their title as delegate. We as a party should not support such actions, and we should prove that we are confident in our own convictions.