Primaries, Caucuses, and Nominations… Oh My!
This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.
Two weeks ago, we discussed The “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime” Fallacy. Today, Indiana Republicans and Democrats line up to vote for their favored candidates and delegates on Primary Day.
The pressure to “participate in our democracy,” as I heard on the radio yesterday, continues to increase. The #NeverTrump advocates want me to vote for Ted Cruz today. I have yet to #FeelTheBern, despite the numerous radio and television ads from Bernie Sanders. This election cycle, the presidential nominees for both of the old parties are not yet locked in place, giving Indiana a moment in the sun with both the media and the candidates.
On top of that, there is a contested race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate between two sitting Congressmen, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young.
While I have voted in primaries in the past, I last cast a partisan ballot in the primary in 2012 to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary. <– try saying that three times fast
While I supported some fine candidates in parties other than my own, I realized that the primary process is used to determine intra-party business. That business is to place the party’s best candidate forward for the general election.
Should I be able to participate in their elections? I am not a member of either Team D or Team R, nor do I donate to either. Should I have a vote in how they conduct business? After all, General Electric does not allow non-shareholders determine who sits on their board. They handle such decisions internally, and most importantly, without using resources paid for by taxpayers.
In 2012, taxpayers spent approximately $400 million to fund each state’s primary election, ranging from $1.32 to almost $4 per voter, depending on the state and their turnout.
That means that taxpayers across the country subsidized the cost of selecting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama before their conventions even occurred in Tampa and Charlotte.
By contrast, the Libertarian Party chose the Gary Johnson/Jim Gray ticket in Las Vegas at their 2012 convention whose costs were borne entirely by attendees and donors to the party.
Often, the argument used against the idea of parties funding their own intra-party business is that only party insiders will be involved in the selection process. Given the way that the rules are written, the ability of “superdelegates” to ignore their constituents’ desires, and the efforts of those looking to stop the likely nominee, aren’t those same party insiders already doing the legwork of choosing who should represent them in both of the old parties?
I guess the question to be answered is, should taxpayers fund conventions and primaries? Couldn’t we make this simpler and less expensive by having the Party bear these costs, rather than have taxpayers subsidize the cost of this selection process and provide extra paid and earned media to the parties allowed to participate?