April 28, 2016

Open Everything for Everyone!

This whole 'NY needs an open primary' thing is nuts.

I've talked about it in this blog, noting my opposition.  There were two great letters to the editor of the Post-Standard published recently, both of which made pretty good cases for keeping things the way that are. The letters were in response to an editorial published before our primary last week lamenting that voting, while "a privilege and an obligation of citizenship," is a hassle in NY, and they recommend that voters start lobbying for change.
If you're not registered in a political party - and 3.2 million of New York's 11.7 million registered voters aren't - you'll have to sit this one out. If you unaffiliated and independents and members of minor parties want a voice in selecting a presidential candidate the next time around, start lobbying the state Legislature now to loosen New York's restrictive voting laws. 
New York is one of 11 states with a 'closed' primary system, which means that only voters who are registered in a political party can vote in a primary election. This setup maintains the power of the political parties to choose their candidates - but excludes huge numbers of voters from the process.  
It goes on to mention how Bernie Sanders has benefited from open primaries in other states, as if that in and of itself is good enough reason to change the rules.

One writer, a gentleman named Andy Chertow, offered this:
As a rule, you  need to be a member of an organization in order to have a say in that organization's policies. I don't get to vote on flight attendants union contracts or policies of the American Psychiatric Association, even though I may have an interest in these outcomes.  There is no charge or entrance requirement for party membership. All you have to do is join a party and then you can vote in the primary. If a person is unwilling to say they are a member of a given party, they lose their right to complain about that party's choices.
The second writer, one Bob Jackson, noted that the editorial 'lack(ed) substance' and suggests (among other things) that we should worry about the rights of people who do bother to enroll in a party.
A closed primary system, in your opinion, is a bad thing because the "setup maintains the power of political parties to choose their candidates." How is that a bad thing? Simply because "huge numbers" of people who have chosen not to join a party cannot participate in choosing a party's nominee? You speak of the 'rights' of people who have specifically opted not to join a party, but what of the rights of the people who choose to be Democrats or Republicans? 
I got to thinking, if the Berners and the Editorial Board think open is the way to go, let's open up some other stuff too.

There's an Elks Lodge around the corner from us, and heck - there's an American Legion the other direction too, where I vote. I don't know what it takes to be a member of the former, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the qualifications to belong to the latter. But is that my fault?  Why can't I just stroll right in and begin receiving all of the benefits of membership, while maintaining my independence and ability move from the Elks or the Legion to the Moose Club whenever I choose?

Or an exclusive country club -- you know, the kind with the big initiation fees and the significant annual membership and the dress codes requiring the silly pants and stuff?  I can't afford it, but heck - I should be able to play there anytime I want, and get towel service in the sauna and play tennis and all that without having to join, right?

How about voting for the Academy Awards? I mean, I should be able to vote for the best actor and actress, and screenplay, and original score, and the ones that are given out at the luncheon instead of on TV, even though I'm not a member of the Academy, right? Nothing special about them, or members of the Screen Actors Guild, or the Directors Guild, so why not let me vote for all of those as well?

Airline VIP lounges? Why should we treat VIPs any different from the rest of us?

Locally, in the Syracuse area, there's the Pastime Athletic Club, which back in the day used to (and maybe still does) offer cheap drinks to members. Cheap gas at PriceChopper without earning your rewards? Discounted prices at Wegmans, without having a Shopper's Club card?  Volume-based Centro bus pass prices, without buying rides in volume?

This is fun! Open everything for everyone!