When a party disenfranchises voters, the party asks to be cheated on

Idaho votes logoBy Mike Weland

Primary elections in Idaho are designed to select from a political party’s strongest candidates the champions who best reflect the party’s philosophies and mores, who will then stand for that party in the crucible of a general election, there to compete against the champions of all other parties in a race in which one winner takes all. But there are in nearly every election cycle races in which only one political party has ponies to run, and these races are decided in the primary. There are two such races on the dominant Republican Party ballot in Boundary County in the May 21 primary, both for important positions of great public trust.

Unless there are third party or independent candidates who choose to take on long shot odds, it will be registered District 1 Republican voters who will on May 21 decide the next state Senator for Legislative District 1; incumbent Scott Herndon or returning champion Jim Woodward, and it will be registered Boundary County Republicans alone who will choose this county’s next sheriff; Dave Schuman, Travis Stolley or Jon VanGesen.

It hasn’t always been that way, but in Idaho, it is, thanks in large part to U.S. District of Idaho Court case 1:08-CV-165-BLW.

In a healthy Democratic Republic, Constitutional Democracy or Federal Democracy … whatever you choose to call it … power derives from the people as expressed by their vote. It is so established by the U.S. Constitution. Recognizing this, Idaho held primaries in which a party could select its champion to move on to compete in the general election, and voters, regardless of party affiliation, could request and vote any one party’s primary ballot.

But in 2011, the Idaho Republican Party and Chairman Norm Semanko filed suit against Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, contending that these primaries open to any eligible United States voter violated their party’s first amendment rights.

The first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Despite the self-evident truth that to people belong rights and not to parties, corporations, enterprises, establishments or any other entity which might be lawfully and legally contrived by the mind of man and defined to exist … the Honorable B. Lynn Winmill determined that allowing other parties to participate in the dominant party’s parties violated the Republican Party’s first amendment right to freedom of association.

“Because the open primary permits substantial numbers of independent voters, as well as voters associated with other political parties, to ‘cross over’ and participate in the Republican Party’s selection of its nominees, the Court concludes that, by mandating such a nomination process, the State violates the Party’s constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of association.

The Idaho GOP is going all out to ensure that only loyal Republican voters get to play, as shown by the rules to attend their recent caucus. Thus we have 33,603 loyal Republicans turn out to vote in a state with 439,906 registered Republicans.

Just 7.6-percent of eligible voters turn out and 84.9-percent vote Trump. Surprise, surprise.

“Idaho has reaffirmed its steadfast support for President Trump today,” crowed MAGA Idaho GOP Chair Dorothy Moon. “We recognize that our state stands as a beacon of support for Republican ideals, reaffirming Idaho’s status as ‘Trump Country’ with his resounding victory in our caucus. The enthusiasm and dedication of supporters in Idaho is emblematic of the strength and unity of our party. Trump’s agenda is what strengthened our nation before, and it will once more. To secure our southern border, grow our flailing economy and shield our nation from the radical leftist agenda, it is imperative that we rally together as a united party.”

Sounds a bit like a designated hack crowing when Kim Jong Un or Vladimir Putin win with an 85-percent margin in their elections, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, Moon and her freedom faction can’t write the rules for the May 21 Idaho Primary Election; it is run under auspices of the Idaho Secretary of State and conducted by 44 elected county clerks.

Absentee and early voting is allowed, polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at polling sites for each county precinct, voters can register and declare party affiliation on election day and all voters already registered and affiliated can, if they so choose, change party affiliation any time before 5 p.m. Friday, March 15, by visiting the county clerk’s office.

It might seem disloyal, somehow, or maybe like cheating, and maybe it is, but it’s not nearly as egregious as a political party invoking human rights to itself so as to disenfranchise eligible voters from voting the ballot of their choice. When races of import are to be chosen in the primary of a party that has become so radicalized and cultish it no longer trusts in either the voter or the process, a party that denigrates even its own more rational and moderate members, it becomes essential for those not caught up in the cult to stand against them by every legal means at our disposal.

A political party has a very narrow and limited scope. It cannot vote, it cannot run for or hold office of public trust. All a political party can do is establish a political philosophy, draw like minded candidates together with voters who share similar views and work to get them elected.

When a party and its candidates espouse a philosophy that resonates and a platform that voters can ascribe to, their candidate wins and the party prospers. When each party so does, the American people are afforded strong candidates with good ideas and the attributes, education and training necessary to the office they seek. The party system works to the benefit of all Americans.

But when a party such as today’s Republicans get taken over and radicalized by an extreme element, there is no longer a philosophy that resounds. And when that party, rather than correct its own course opts instead to restrict or make harder a citizen’s right to vote in the election most important to them or sway the rules of our elections process to give itself unfair advantage, that party is no longer a contributing entity in the electoral process but rather an entity attempting to usurp political power to itself, striving to become a player in our politics rather than a refining element.

Such a party demands to be cheated on.