We’re in the midst of a fierce primary season. Considering the legitimate rise of Sanders and Trump, we’re seeing a great deal of pushback from partisan stalwarts who seem more concerned with party loyalty than principles of a truly vibrant and competitive (and some say cooperative) democracy.
Sanders and Trump supporters -many of whom are decidedly not from the ranks of the two party cloth- have been calling fraud on the primary system. Party loyalists are correct to note that this is not fraud, but instead the rules of the game. The problem is that the rules are not shaped in an open forum, but instead interpreted by a set of entrenched insiders. Here is an anonymous quote in favor of the New York partisan rule-making:
The rules about primaries have been the same for a long time. Clinton had nothing to do with the rules about voters only being able to vote in the primary that corresponds with the party they have registered in. That particular law is meant to prevent people from crossing party lines in order to vote for the weakest candidate. If Bernie is trying to prove that he would be a good CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the United States, he really should try to do a better job of making sure that his followers understand the rules.
This argument is not so much about defending democracy, but instead about supporting fealty to the two party apparatus. My response:
The only pathway to running for office legitimately in the USA is through the two parties. They can easily make it harder and harder for regular citizens to access the party apparatus. And they do.
It’s simply not justifiable to say “the party rules say this…” Break the two party hold on the system, and make it easy to run for office (by the way, neither party is advocating for this, which is absolutely anti democratic), then the whole “follow the rules” argument carries weight.
So long as the two parties are allowed to create the foundational rules for running for office, we will have to deal with capture and partisan control. And anyone who challenges those rules will in essence be labeled a traitorous interloper.
That is why for those of us who care about living and operating in a functioning democracy we must break the stranglehold of the two party system on the electoral system.