By Scott Tibbs, April 5, 2008
Rush Limbaugh has been promoting what he calls "Operation Chaos", encouraging Republicans to cross over and vote in Democrat Party primaries to keep Hillary Clinton in the race for the nomination. The logic is that by keeping Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama fighting each other as long as possible, the Democrats will more divided and will have fewer resources to use in the fall. As a political strategery, it isn't a bad one, but is it a good idea? More importantly, is it right?
I believe that Democrats should vote in the Democrat Party primary and Republicans should vote in the Republican party primary. Someone who is truly an independent should not be voting in the primary at all. The primary elections are for party members to pick their candidates, and I do not believe either Republicans or Democrats should be trying to throw a wrench in the nominating process of the other party. As much as I respect Limbaugh, for Republicans to switch sides smacks of a political dirty trick.
Yes, Democrats have done it too. Many Democrats crossed over for McCain eight years ago when he was running against George W. Bush, and no doubt Democrats have done it again in 2008. But the fact that the other side does something does not make it right.
Locally, there is talk of Republicans crossing over to vote for Steve Sharp and Iris Kiesling for County Commissioner, knocking out "Green Democrats" Mark Stoops and Sophia Travis, respectively. Certainly, the prospect of keeping those two from office would be tempting were I not on the ballot twice, for Precinct Committeeman and delegate to the Republican state convention this summer. But Republicans also have contested primaries for County Commissioner and County Council, as well as Coroner.
Greg Travis, husband of Monroe County Commissioner candidate Sophia Travis, threatened to post "the names, and addresses, of those Monroe County Republicans" who cross over and vote in the Democrat Party's primary this year. Travis is talking about how such crossover votes are a "felony", while Don Moore (husband of City Clerk Regina Moore) has said that Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal should be notified of attempts to get Republicans to cross over. Gaal is not dumb enough, however, to prosecute someone for partisan political gain.
Local crossover vote wouldn't be unprecedented. After all, the Herald-Times argued in an April 15, 1998 editorial that it would be "fair play" for Democrats to cross over in a heated Republican Party primary contest for the District 60 state representative seat, arguing that voters "have right to cross party lines". The H-T then published a "helpful" guide to knowing whether you live in District 60 on April 26, 1998.
Ther H-T was wrong then, just as Andrea Neal was wrong when she claimed that "Indiana is an open primary state." Technically, someone who votes in party primary should have "voted for a majority of the regular nominees of the political party holding the primary election" in the previous general election or"intends to vote... for a majority of the regular nominees of the political party holding the primary election", according to Indiana Code IC 3-10-1-6. Unless someone has a clear primary voting record, the secret ballot makes that unenforceable. Both parties have the legal right to challenge voters in primary elections, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Democrats challenging voters who may be crossover Republicans.
Folks, let's just drop all the cloak-and-dagger silliness and treat politics with the seriousness it deserves. At the end of the day, we're talking about the direction of public policy for the county, state, and nation. If Republicans want to defeat Democrats (or vice versa) they should do it in the general election this November, not by trying to monkeywrench the other party's nominating process.