Opinion

EDITOR'S COLUMN: Get even with political parties

We’re going to have to get even with the Washington State Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Gov. Gary Locke, and the U.S. Supreme Court for jointly killing off our beloved blanket primary.

For 70 years, voters in this state have been able to vote for whomever they darn well pleased in the primary election. The ballot contained all candidates, and we could vote for anyone we wanted. We didn’t have to declare ourselves as Democrats, Republicans or Socialist Workers. When people from other states talked about being a registered party member, we thought they must be from Red China or the USSR. Nobody would ever make us register by party, and we’d always vote for whom we liked, regardless of party.

We could vote for Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat, and Rep. Barry Sehlin, a Republican, on the same primary ballot, because we thought they were nice folks doing a pretty good job in Olympia. We were unrepentant ticket splitters, voting for the person, not the party. As a result, many of us never associated ourselves with a party and can’t to this day say if we’re Democrats or Republicans. We’ve voted for both so many times that we’re like hogs on ice in the voting booth — it’s hard to tell where we’ll end up.

To make a long, tragic story short, the parties hated this independent streak in Washington voters. They didn’t know who the voters sympathized with, they agonized that voters were crossing over to pick a primary candidate they hoped would lose in November, they had no public record of who chose the Republican or Democrat ballot and therefore no way to send them tons of junk mail at election time. They were afraid that their candidates were partly being selected by non-party members. So they did the American thing and sued to get their way, even though people loved their blanket primary, which the people had approved during the Great Depression.

The deep thinkers on the courts suddenly realized that for 70 years, Washington voters had been breaking the constitution by voting for anyone they wanted in the primary. This violated the parties’ right to pick their own candidates. How this lawlessness was allowed for 70 years wasn’t explained. Previous courts were no doubt packed with morons.

Elected officials all expressed shock at the court’s decision, even though their own political parties had instigated it. Nobody wanted their fingerprints on the corpse of the blanket primary, but we know who did it: The Democrats and Republicans, with some help from our weird Libertarian Party, the only one in the nation against giving people a choice.

Now we lowly voters are facing a primary in September in which we’ll have to choose a ballot: Republican or Democrat, or maybe Independent. The parties will fight to make this choice public, so they can send us junk mail. Our proud tradition of an open primary will be over.

There’s only one way for voters to get even: Don’t vote for any candidates in the primary election. Boycott the Democrats, boycott the Republicans, boycott the Libertarians.

Sure, they got their way with the courts. But what happens when the parties throw their own primary election and nobody attends?

Maybe they’ll go to court and try to force us to vote.

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