1.11.19

TEMPERING PRINCIPLE WITH PRACTICALITY.

Harvard's N. Gregory Mankiw gets a cheap opportunity to send a virtue signal to his colleagues and the Never Trumpers among his associates.
I just came back from city hall, where I switched my voter registration from Republican to unenrolled (aka independent). Two reasons:

First, the Republican Party has largely become the Party of Trump. Too many Republicans in Congress are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump's misdeeds (just as too many Democrats were for Clinton during his impeachment). I have no interest in associating myself with that behavior. Maybe someday, the party will return to having honorable leaders like Bush, McCain, and Romney. Until then, count me out.
I'll let the people who pay more attention to things like party loyalty and preferring losing honorably to winning parse all that.

The money quote is in his second reason.
Second, in Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in either primary. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, where it has to choose either a center-left candidate (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang) or a far-left populist (Warren, Sanders) as their nominee for president. I intend to help them choose the former. The latter propose to move the country too far in the direction of heavy-handed state control. And in doing so, they tempt those in the center and center-right to hold their noses and vote for Trump's reelection.
There are states, including Illinois, in which there is no such thing as a "registered Democrat" or "registered Republican." A voter simply requests a ballot for the party primary of his choice.  In DeKalb County, sometimes the only party action is in local ballots on the Republican side; then there are elections, such as the 2016 primary, where crossing over to frustrate a Democrat might be more profitable than crossing over to frustrate Donald Trump, or perhaps one of the Bush boys.

For that reason, making a lot of noise about college faculty being overwhelmingly "registered Democrat" might overstate things.  You have people disposed to argue with, and get involved in, choosing Democrats and perhaps they'll default to the Democrats for lack of a proper Leninist.

As a side note, I suspect that people outside the news media and the party organization sometimes look at the crossover votes.  To this day, I can't be sure whether I get occasional mailings from the American Criminal Civil Liberties Union because some unpaid intern goes through the ballot request records, or because I have on occasion purchased videos from public radio.

Not surprisingly, Party apparatchiki don't like crossover voting, as in New Hampshire voters disaffiliating in order to cross over and help maverick Hawaiian Member of Congress Tulsi Gabbard.
But why, you might be wondering, should voters from a different party get to play a role in determining who Democrats nominate for president? That might seem unfair, and the Democratic Party certainly would be right to exclude whomever they want from the party's private business. But primaries aren't private affairs; they are paid for by taxpayers and run by state-level election officials. By allowing everyone to participate, New Hampshire is actually doing the right thing—and all those other states with closed primaries should change their rules, or stop asking non-party members to foot the bill.
The primary election is another of the reforms from the so-called Progressive Era. It came into being in order to allow voters to have a little more say in choosing a candidate than the party bosses in the legendary smoke filled rooms gave them. (That story is still emerging, consider how the McGovern era reforms of the Democrats' presidential conventions gave way to the super-delegates, and a hectoring harridan who didn't like some voters becoming the national standard bearer.)

The tension between the party establishments and the state governments, which manage the primary elections, is of long standing.  There's a passage in Theodore White's 1960 Making of the President about how crossover voting "verges on anarchy."  Maybe that's not so good for the party establishments, but if they had their way, wouldn't they prefer to be rid of primaries and caucuses?

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