Elections and Sporting Events

For Steve

Anyone who pays any attention at all to politics remembers the US Senate race in Mississippi last year. You’ll recall that, after the initial primary race early in the summer, a run-off race was called for in June to determine if incumbent Thad Cochran or Chris McDaniel would be the Republican nominee in November.

During the run-off, the Cochran campaign called for Democrats to come out and vote in the Republican primary. Apparently they were eligible to vote provided they had not voted in the Democrat primary earlier. So the Dems came out to support liberal Republican Thad Cochran and defeated Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel by 7700 votes.

How did this happen? Why are Democrats allowed to vote in Republican primary elections? This only served, and serves, to send weak candidates into the general elections. Allow me to explain how with a few examples.

Each year millions watch the World Series in late October. The teams playing are always the winner of the American League play-offs and winner of the National League play-offs. While that may not seem difficult to comprehend, please understand that this is not necessarily the team with the best regular season record. During the regular season, with the exception of a few days mid-season (I still don’t understand why this is and think the person who came up with it needs to be slapped), American league teams only play other American league teams and National league teams only play against other teams in the National league. The top handful of teams from each respective league then goes into the division series to determine which teams will play in the World Series.

In other words, only events that take place during National league games will determine which National league team makes it to the Series, and the same goes for the American league teams. Nothing that takes place in the American league will determine which National league team we will see in October. Likewise there is no interference from the National league in the American league games. Each league is responsible for sending their best team to the Series.

This is the same method that should be used for our elections.

In another example, consider the Olympics. Each nation works to send their very best athletes to represent them. We often hear of athletes from other nations using US training facilities to help them prepare (other nations simply don’t have the equipment and facilities necessary to train athletes of Olympic caliber*), but they will still represent their home country. Furthermore, none of these foreign athletes are permitted to compete in any US qualifying event. In this manner, only citizens of the US will be on US teams. This means that a US gymnast and Norwegian gymnast may work out together, train in the same room, and even live in the same dorm, but they will not compete against one another to earn a place on the US team.

But what if they did? Indulge me for another moment. Let’s just say that the 5 best long distance runners in the world were all from Nigeria, but due to Olympic requirements, Nigeria was only allowed to send 2 long distance runners to the games. The other 3 could easily outpace any other athlete in the world, so they go to the US team tryouts. When they place first, second, and third at the tryouts, the US team is suddenly made up of three Nigerians.

The day comes for the marathon at the Olympics and the arduous race begins. When it ends 26.2 miles later, the two members of the Nigerian team and the three members of the US team are the top five finishers. The Nigerians take the three medals and, even though at least one of them represents the US, his medal still goes home to Africa.

Was this fair to the American athletes who didn’t have a single American athlete on the US team? While technically the US is credited with a medal at the games, it wasn’t earned by a real American. We have no national superstar to admire, no one to serve as an encouragement to the next generation of athletes, no one to even do the morning interview on NBC. Why not? He headed home to Africa!

Clearly this is an unacceptable situation. Americans would be very angry if this were allowed. Ultimately though, even the Olympics are still only games and sports. They have absolutely no bearing on how the citizens of a nation will be governed. So if this is unacceptable in sports, why is it acceptable in our elections?

The purpose of the primary election, in its purest sense, is for voters to select the best candidate to represent them in the general election. In November, you will have a real election held between the best Democrat and the best Republican. By virtue of having won their primary races, these should be candidates that best represent the values and spirit of their party. It is then up to the voters to decide which candidate will best represent their wishes.

By keeping primary races open to voters of either party, several states have allowed their elections to be manipulated by voters in the other party. The result is that the general election very often includes a candidate that doesn’t at all espouse the values of the party he represents. In other words, voters are literally left to choose a candidate who is “the lesser of two evils” instead of someone they really want in office.

After listening to debates on this issue of opened/closed primaries for years, I have never heard one piece of legitimate data that proves that open primaries are a good idea. Even though it has been argued that, at least in some states, Republicans now hold offices they’ve not held in the last century, if those “Republicans” do not actually believe in Republican principles, are they really Republicans? Are they really people we want in office? What is the point of having someone with an R after their name in an office if they won’t do the job the way a real Republican would?

I don’t want anyone voting in my primary who is not a legitimate Republican. I don’t think that the American League wants any National League owners or players determining who they send to the World Series either. It’s time to close the primaries.

Temerity Dowell

 

*Just to be clear, nations that send their athletes to train in the US must pay for this service. It is not a government handout.

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