When the United States came together as a country at the end of the 18th century we were admonished by then-President George Washington in his farewell address to avoid creating political party organizations.
“The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it,” Washington said.
What Washington was alluding to with regard to politics within our country was precisely what we have seen in the most recent primary caucus of the Republican Party here in South Carolina.
On a state level the candidacy and selection of Lindsey Graham as the candidate for Senate was accomplished by the members of the liberal Democratic party because, as one of them stated on the radio, “he was the most liberal candidate in the race.” Further evidence abounds in candidacies at all levels of government from local county council races through legislative and state constitutional office positions.
It should be noted and remembered by activists in any political organization that the primary process is, in fact, not an election but a selection as the result of a party conducting a caucus to make its choice known as a candidate to run in an election.
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines caucus as follows: “The so-called open primary process is precisely the type of mischief that Washington was alluding to when he cautioned us about the power of political parties.”
That process, open primaries, and the often touted comment “I don’t vote for a party, I vote for the man” are the exact opposite of what the partisan system represents. A party should exist for the furtherance of a philosophy of governance. The modern terms of these philosophies are liberal, conservative, socialist, communist etc.
The candidates from these parties should represent, in the majority of their views, the same direction of governance as does the party that he supposedly represents. When that candidate falls sufficiently short of the mark in offering those views, then the purpose of the party caucus is to select a candidate that does, in fact, offer the view of the majority of the membership in their party.
The argument that any specific candidate needs so-called crossover votes in a primary to become a candidate in a general election reflects the fact that as a candidate he does not reflect the majority view of his party and, by default, he should not be offering himself as a candidate for that party.
Further, if members of that party refuse to acknowledge the principles for which the party stands, then those members should excuse themselves from voicing their choices within the party and the selection of the parties candidates by allowing for the closed primary process. Only when we have a closed primary process will the real voice of the party be heard.
You do not strengthen the political process by weakening the party and, likewise you do not strengthen our country by weakening our two party system.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.