Letters: Should the Tennessee primaries be closed?

With Monday’s question of the week, we asked readers if they thought Tennessee’s primary election should be closed, meaning only registered members of a political party could vote there. Here are some of the responses we received.

Parts must be treated

like private groups

The question is not whether primaries should be open or closed, the question is why are primaries funded by the state?

Despite what the vast majority have been conditioned to believe, parties are NOT government. All political parties are private entities, operating outside the constitutionally mandated boundaries of the government itself.

If Republicans and Democrats want to field a coalition candidate in the general election, it should be up to Republicans and Democrats to decide those candidates, with the costs of doing so being borne by each respective party accordingly.

This is precisely what differentiates the “third” parties, the fact that the narrowing of their fields of contenders is done within their own ranks and at their expense. Why should it be any different for Republicans and Democrats?

Making their primary elections a public process, publicly funded and run by public agencies, only serves to embed their petty “us versus them” party politics deeper into the very workings of government itself.

When the American people exercise their right to vote in a general election, there should be no impediment to the process. All candidates, whether Republican or Democrat, representing one of the various tiers or presenting themselves as strictly independents, should be given the same consideration and opportunity. That’s when the individual vote will matter the most and that’s the only time real change will happen.

ARON JAMES

Memphis

Closed primaries silence voices

It’s not complicated. “Closed primaries” means “disenfranchisement”. This means taxation without representation.

In our one-party state, that means you don’t have a vote on who governs you unless you join the one-party state. We Americans are poorly served by our two main parties.

A one-party system means the abandonment of democracy. This means enforced loyalty to a political party rather than attention to each candidate’s political positions and leadership abilities. This means that we elect parties rather than people. It’s not democracy.

This means that the only elections that matter are the primaries, and you can only vote there if you declare your loyalty to one party.

Holding general elections is therefore a waste of taxpayers’ money, since general elections are meaningless. Everything has already been decided in the primaries by the members of the only party that will win the general.

Some of us still believe in researching issues and candidates before voting, and then voting for people and policies rather than voting blindly for a label. Some of us still value democracy.

George Washington warned us of the dangers of political parties. But somewhere along the way, we stopped listening.

DONALD SHAFER

Town of Johnson

The holidays are over

Let’s face it, if you want to get elected or have your vote count in Tennessee, especially East Tennessee, or if you want to run for office, you have to identify with the Republican Party. Restricting the primary vote with mandatory party registration will only make voting more difficult, especially in important local elections where the winner of the Republican primary is the election winner.

Personally, I think the party system should be eliminated with term limits applied to all elected officials. This way you would have a real democracy, and the winner of the vote would be elected.

We have become a “polarized” nation, not identifying as citizens of the United States of America, but as Republicans or Democrats, right wing or left wing, depending on which cable news channel you watch.

Both parties have good ideas and policies that would benefit the majority of American citizens, but are not considered or adopted because the other party initiated the legislation, and if passed, the other party does everything in its power to convince the public that these are bad ideas. (Example: Affordable Care Act and flat flat corporate tax rate). Last time I checked, no political party had a monopoly on “brains” or “idiots”.

WILLIAM PRENDERGAST

Elizabethton

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