If Virginia closed their Party nomination primary elections to the registered voters of each Party, there would be no need for a “loyalty pledge”
Virginia recently sparked a mild uproar when it’s state Board of Elections approved a Republican proposal that would require voters who want to participate in the Republican presidential primary, must sign a non-binding pledge to the Republican presidential nominee.
The pledge reads as follows;
“I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”
Many have been offended by the required pledge. Its critics claim the pledge essentially requires primary voters to in some cases, commit to a candidate they’re not yet familiar with and they argue that the pledge is a concept which is far removed from what our nation’s founders intended.
While those points may initially sound good, they fail to actually hold any water.
As far as the concern about being possibly committed to a candidate that a voter may not be familiar with, the pledge simply and clearly states “intend to vote for” the Republican nominee. By its very meaning, the word ‘intend’, allows for exceptions. So if all of America lost its mind at the same time and Ron Paul became the Republican presidential nominee, I will have still met the requirements of the pledge because it is in fact my “intention” to vote for the Republican presidential candidate but seeing as how Ron Paul is no Republican and that his foreign and defense policies are extremely dangerous and reckless, I will not be able to carry out my voting intentions.
As for the intentions of our Founding Fathers, the men of that time considered political parties to be factions that were harmful to our national unity.
In Federalist Paper Number Ten, James Madison denounced political parties by claiming “The public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties”. George Washington also warned against the creation of political parties in his farewell address when referred to political parties as being “baneful,”.
Those statements have a degree of undeniable truth in them. But not to those who view party affiliation more with ideology that political allegiance. Some of us out there, are Republican because we believe that the principles which it is based upon are best for the nation, not some political organization.
While I find it hard to argue against our Founding Fathers, I do disagree with the amount of blame that many of them place on the concept of political parties. If you define political parties as institutions comprised of people adhering to a core set of principles and way of thinking that they believe is best for the nation, then political parties are not the sources of national destruction that many founding father’s warned us of. And it is by that definition that this Virginia pledge is born.
The way I see it, it is not the political parties which disregard the public good, it is the party bosses which the public allows to take control of the parties which are responsible for many of our ills. That view puts the blame back on to the public, not the political parties.
Most of the pop culture dominated electorate is more concerned with keeping up with the Kardashians than they are with the Democratic or Libertarian Party platforms, and most of the electorate does not take their civic responsibilities as seriously as they should and actually need to. Few voters are even aware of the fact that they are given the power to elect their local party precinct leaders and that these local leaders elect their county leaders, and they in turn elect the state leaders and state committeemen who go on to elect the party’s national chairmen.
Instead, so many voters are ignorant of this process that the original election ballots which give them the opportunity to vote for sincere minded local Party officials who share their beliefs, go blank. That then allows the Party bosses to fill the vacancies and they do so with individuals who are committed to follow the lead of those who appoint them.
That is where the positive effect of political parties begins to breakdown.
But in the case of a primary, when the average voted does have the opportunity to pick from a slate of candidates who want a Party’s nomination, the average voter is again given the chance to take control of the process. And that brings us to the Virginia presidential primary.
Virginia is an open primary. It is a sad and sorry contest that allows liberals to choose the candidate they want to see representing conservatives and vise versa. This is what led to the creation of this controversial pledge.
The pledge was designed to cut down on the number of people who would prefer to play politics and exploit the opportunity of an open primary contest by trying to crossover and see to it that the weakest candidate represents the Party that they oppose.
In other words, this “loyalty pledge” seeks to make it clear that the democratic voting process is not a joke and that the right to vote is a serious responsibility, not a tool to be used to hijack the opposition with. The hope is that if a they have to sign a pledge that specifically commits them to the ideology of the Party they are trying to shape, than maybe it will deter some of those who want to play games with their vote from actually going through with their shallow conduct and deceptive voting practices.
Unfortunately, sincerity in politics is rare, and that goes not only for the politicians who most voters see as unscrupulous game players, but for the voters who also do not take their civic responsibility as seriously as they should and who lack a great degree of conviction. It is for that reason that I believe this Virginia pledge will not make much of a difference. Too many do not view their vote as sacrosanct as they should and too few have the sincere desire to make and keep a committment when it comes to politics.
So while I support the intent behind the pledge, I believe the actual pledge falls far short of accomplishing what it is designed to.
Instead, Virginia should look at the problem which created the need for this feeble solution of a pledge and get rid of their useless and senseless open primary system which allows opposing ideologies to select the nominees of the parties they oppose. That would help avoid the need for asking voters to take a pledge and avoid the added costs of that additional step. It would also avoid some of the negative influences that pollute the nomination process.
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