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March 02, 2010


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While I often find your commentaries interesting and sometimes even enlightened, today's commentary suggesting that the Michigan Democratic Party turn the nomination of its candidates over to the general electorate isn't one of them. It isn't the proper place of the general electorate to decide what candidates political parties nominate to represent them. Indeed, few things have done more to corrupt the meaning of political parties than the transition over the years to open primaries. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter would never have been nominated by their respective parties but were able to end run their parties through open primaries. Allowing the general electorate to choose who properly reflects the platform and philosophy of political parties not only doesn't enhance democracy, it undermines it by diluting the role of parties in choosing their nominees and hence the ability of parties to develop and enforce policy based platforms. This only strengthens the popular but wrong belief that there is no difference between the parties anymore and enhances an already over powering sense of cynicism in the country. We already have a thoroughly democratic process for the general electorate to decide if they like the nominees of each party or not. We call them elections. I think we ought to keep that process and move away from, rather than deeper into open primaries.

Perhaps the parties could also decide the winners as well between them, thus further getting rid of that nasty custom of letting the people decide. I don't think so. I think Republicans were rather satisfied with the selection of Reagan, in the long run. As Democrats were with JFK, and Clinton, and Obama.

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