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Political mischief in the US primaries.

American politics can be odd at the best of times, but this is an oddity among oddities: some US states allow open primaries where anyone who is a registered voter can vote for presidential candidates in either party. In otherwards, even if I was a registered Democrat, I could vote in the Republican primaries, and vice versa. Independent voters are also allowed to vote in either/or.

One state that allows this is Michigan, and it is Michigan that the folks at the biggest liberal Democratic blog Daily Kos are looking to stir up the pot a bit – specifically Markos Moulitsias, the proprietor of Daily Kos is:

In 1972, Republican voters in Michigan decided to make a little mischief, crossing over to vote in the open Democratic primary and voting for segregationist Democrat George Wallace, seriously embarrassing the state’s Democrats. In fact, a third of the voters (PDF) in the Democratic primary were Republican crossover votes. In 1988, Republican voters again crossed over, helping Jesse Jackson win the Democratic primary, helping rack up big margins for Jackson in Republican precincts….With a history of meddling in our primaries, why don’t we try and return the favor. Next Tuesday, January 15th, Michigan will hold its primary. Michigan Democrats should vote for Mitt Romney, because if Mitt wins, Democrats win.

Markos goes on to reason that with Michigan Democrats not being able to vote in their primaries because of a rule violation the Democratic National Committee suspended the state over, they have nothing to lose by voting for Romney and helping to carry him to a victory in Michigan. The logic is this:

John McCain is currently enjoying the afterglow of media love since his New Hamsphire victory, while Iowa winner Mike Huckabee is poised to do well in South Carolina. Meanwhile, poor Mitt Romney, who’s suffered back-to-back losses in the last week, desperately needs to win Michigan in order to keep his campaign afloat. Bottom line, if Romney loses Michigan, he’s out. If he wins, he stays in. And we want Romney in, because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us. We want Mitt to stay in the race, and to do that, we need him to win in Michigan.

Markos mentions other factors like how embarrassing it would be for the Repubs if the Dems are the ones who push Romney over the top – and he further thinks it will lead to increased infighting and bickering over the legitimacy of a win if Romney were to pull it off.

I can’t imagine this type of a scenario in Canada if local ridings had open voting for their particular party’s nominees in each riding. An organized turnout from other parties to vote for a specific candidate for a specific party they felt their own party/person would have a better shot of getting elected against would cause chaos everywhere. It is not this way everywhere in the US, but I think that’s one aspect of the Presidential race that should be done away with. If you’re a member of a party, you can vote in your own party’s primary – no one else’s. I’m not even sure I’d allow Independents to vote down there in Party primaries, because as I understand it, people who are members of the 2 political parties can drop their party affiliation and register to become an “Independent”, and that also could be used to skew the voting results.

I know the party system up here for picking candidates has it’s flaws, but on the whole, I think I’ll take what we have up here over what they have down there.

UPDATE: Markos posts an update to his original post reacting to some of the feedback he’s gotten and explaining the idea further. In addition, 2 more big influential liberal Democratic-supporting blogs and bloggers have come out in support of the idea: Atrios (Duncan Black) of the blog Eschaton thinks it’s one of the better ideas he’s seen (while taking shots at some of the Kossacks for moaning about how it doesnt feel right), as does Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake at the bottom of this blogpost.

Update 2: There is now a “Democrats For Mitt” group at Facebook,”because the GOP deserves the very worst”. Hilarious.

18 comments to Political mischief in the US primaries.

  • " You should know better then to equate Kos’s membership and their preferences with his official site position. "

    Scott, you misread me here.  What I’m saying is the people who drive the site aren’t representative of the Democratic Party.  Clinton is a pariah on that site, Obama has mixed support, Edwards wins hands down, which translates to a "narrow" perspective of where the Democratic Party is really at.  

  • As for being a "narrow" band of the Democratic Party – the positions Kos takes on the war and other issues are supported by a majority of the American people.  Thats pretty "broad" support to me, even if the Dem Party bosses in Washington DC would wish otherwise.

  • Steve V said:
    [quote comment="12161"]Scott Markos was behind the Lieberman campaign, front and center, the driving force. I’m not the establishment guy, but please don’t overstate the influence. I remember the Dean stuff, and I might add Edwards is easily the number one guy on DKos. How is that working out for him?[/quote]

    Edwards isn’t Markos’s endorsed candidate – in fact, he said he had no preference for any of the 3 main Dem candidates, until just recently, when he said he was leaning Obama, but barely.  You should know better then to equate Kos’s membership and their preferences with his official site position.  As for Edwards, yes he has a fair # of supporters there, but Obama’s fan club is as well, and Hillary has her own base – which is just as I would expect from a large membership like Daily Kos has.

  • Scott

    Just to be clear, you know full well I am grassroots first, second and third.  That said, DKos represents a very narrow band of the Democratic Party.

  • Scott

    Markos was behind the Lieberman campaign, front and center, the driving force. I’m not the establishment guy, but please don’t overstate the influence.  I remember the Dean stuff, and I might add Edwards is easily the number one guy on DKos.  How is that working out for him?

  • Uh, Steve, the Stop-Lieberman campaign was initiated by many grass/netroots Democrats, not just Daily Kos. And it DID work – Lamont defeated Lieberman in the primary, but the Democratic establishment refused to endorse Lamont, and the Ct. state Republicans abandoned their own candidate to vote the guy back in, which should tell you why the grassroots Dems wanted him gone – he was and is a Bush enabler . He was and is a war-monger and deserved to be defeated, and those who undertook that campaign again did so legally and within their rights to do so.

    I think I’m going to start calling you “Steve V – the establishment Liberal” if you keep this up 🙂

  • Ron

    Scott,
    I ain’t saying it happened but boy am I glad we used hand counted paper ballots in Cunukistan.
    from your link:
    So if there were ever a recount—and there was after the 2004 election, when a survey of New Hampshire voting districts chosen by the Nader campaign showed there was virtually no difference between the scanned tabulation and the hand recount—the malfeasance would be easily discovered. 

    Apparently Dennis Kucinich has asked for a recount, so

  • Did Markos think Kerry getting "swiftboated" was "legal" too?  What a pathetic rationale to my mind.  Sorry Scott, I don’t buy any of this, it just further erodes the process.  It’s like saying the Al Qaeda terrorist torture Americans, so if we are too win, we should employ the same methods.  I would add then, if Markos chooses to roll in the mud with the other pigs, then he shouldn’t do any more posts later, when the pig bites back.  It’s all fair, right?

    Hopefully Marko’s misguided crusade is about as effective as his stop-Lieberman campaign.   The good news, many that are resisting are the people from Michigan.

  • My response to that is to quote Markos in his piece:

    There are some concerned that this is "dirty tricks" and that we shouldn’t "stoop to their level". This is perhaps the key difference between traditional liberals and movement progressives. The former believe that politics is a high-minded debate about ideas, the latter have seen movement conservatives use every tool at their disposal to steal power and cling to it. The problem is, politics matter, and so does the winner of elections. You can’t bring a spork to a gun fight, because like Florida 2000, we lose every time. And while some may feel proud their personal ethics weren’t compromised and that we "took the high road" through the recount battle, how many thousands of soldiers and Iraqis wish that Democrats had fought a little harder for Gore’s victory?

    There is one major difference between movement progressives and conservatives — we won’t cross the line into illegal behavior. But as long as we operate within legal boundaries, all’s fair in politics. The stakes matter too much to unilaterally disarm.

  • Scott, just because the Repubs engage in such tactics, doesn’t mean progressives should.  That argument means nothing to me, because in effect, it endorses the tactics that have been used against Democrats.  Of course the idea catches on, it appeals to the lowest common denominator of partisanship, but it really does play with a democratic process, in a way that is entirely unseemly.

  • I’ll also note, Steve, that places and bloggers like Atrios of Eschaton, and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, 2 of the other big prominent liberal blogs in the US, support the idea. It appears to be catching on. (added as an update to the original post)

  • Steve V. said:
    [quote comment="12149"]Judging by the surprising divided opinion of the faithful on DailyKos, Markos very childish attempt to manufacture democracy deserves to fail. Reading the comments on his second diary, it is nice to see some can view this past their partisan opinion, and see this idea for the skunk that it is.[/quote]

    I presume you’re referring to this?

    I don’t see it as childish at all, Steve. I see it as some progressives down there willing to take the fight back to the GOP for all the times it’s been done to them. Whats more, it’s perfectly legal what Markos is proposing. It’s dastardly, but I think it’s brilliant.

  • Ron started:
    [quote comment="12148"]from todays counterpunch.org In New Hampshire, 81 per cent of the voting was done in towns and cities that had purchased optical scan machines from the Diebold Election Systems (now called Premiere Election Solutions), a division of Diebold Corp., [/quote]

    Oh please, don’t bring the Diebold stuff here. Here’s a front-page column at DailyKos of all places that refutes that. It’s called "Enough with the ‘Diebold hacked the NH Primary’ Lunacy"

  • Judging by the surprising divided opinion of the faithful on DailyKos, Markos very childish attempt to manufacture democracy deserves to fail.  Reading the comments on his second diary, it is nice to see some can view this past their partisan opinion, and see this idea for the skunk that it is.

  • Ron

    from todays counterpunch.org
    In New Hampshire, 81 per cent of the voting was done in towns and cities that had purchased optical scan machines from the Diebold Election Systems (now called Premiere Election Solutions), a division of Diebold Corp., a company founded by and still linked to wealthy right-wing investors. In those towns, all voting was done on the devices, called Accuvote machines, which read paper ballots completed by voters who use pens or pencils to fill in little ovals next to the candidate of their choice. The ballots are then fed into, read, and tallied by the machines. The other 19 per cent of voting was done in towns that had opted not to use the machine, and to use hand-counted paper ballots instead. The machine tally was Clinton 39.6 per cent, Obama 36.3 per cent – fairly close to the final outcome. But the hand-counted ballot count broke significantly differently: Clinton 34.9 per cent, Obama 38.6 per cent.
    HMMMMM

  • Ti-Guy

    There really is such a thing as "too much voting."

  • When I heard about people registered in one party being able to register as members of another on the spot and immediately help choose a candidate I laughed out loud, it’s got to be one of the most screwed up political processes in the [supposedly] democratic world.

  • Matt Arnold

    We can get this, to a point, since our party structure is less rigid.  There are tons of people here who are Liberals but who are not members of the Liberal party, since we don’t require people to associate with the party as rigidly.  I know my old social studies teacher in HS told us a story how when the Alliance was having their leadership race, he joined up to be able to vote for the cross-dresser.  Would have made stuff fun if more of us had done that.

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