Jay Cost has written an excellent article at the Weekly Standard, Morning Jay: The Nomination Rules Are Rigged Against Grassroots Conservatives. I encourage you to read the entire article. The title may appear to be just another piece whining and groaning about results, but there is a different message in this one. The message is that conservatives are not active Precinct Committee members in the local Republican Party. The fix is not to write a blog complaining about the situation. The fix is to become a PC and have the power to elect the state committee members who can change the state Republican party rules in favor of the conservatives.
Here is an excerpt from the Jay Cost article.
The lefty do-gooders who spearheaded the reforms of the 1970s thought that they were saving the parties from the machine hacks, but in fact they threw out the baby with the bathwater. They effectively destroyed the party at the grassroots level, and handed the nominating power over to candidates, strategists, donors, the news media, and ill informed voters who dominate the primaries. The biggest losers in this scheme were the kinds of committed citizens who took the time to participate in local party affairs, and on the GOP side that inevitably meant the conservatives.
Here we get to the core flaw in selecting party nominees via primaries. I have written before that without competition between the political parties, we cannot really count on voters to make good decisions; it is the battle between the Democrats and Republicans that forces the electorate to focus on real problems and the partisan differences on how to solve them. Primaries are intra-party contests and thus do not offer that kind of clarification process. Hence, we have poorly informed voters backing a candidate because they like him or her more.
But wait, it gets worse!
Self-identified conservatives tend to be a majority of most primary electorates, so one would think that, even with the limits of primaries, you’d still get a quality conservative nominee. But that isn’t necessarily the case in a three-way race. That’s the final, huge problem with the primaries. They do not build consensus, which ultimately would require the assent of the conservative side of the GOP. Instead, they create a game similar to the show Survivor – “outwit, outplay, outlast.”
If you are a moderate Republican – e.g. Bob Dole or John McCain – you don’t need to win a majority of the conservative vote. You just need to do well enough among moderate Republicans so that you win more votes than your conservative opponents. Then, you simply wait for the media and the party establishment to pressure your conservative challengers into dropping out.
Personally, I believe a game similar to American Idol has been created for the primary process. If you are not too stoned to text message, then your American idol vote counts. The completely overboard openness in the primaries is just about the same.
I also believe there needs to be a distinction made between the general election and the primary election. The ill informed voter in the general election can participate because the political party primary process has done its due diligence to winnow down the choices that are on the ballot. There will always be an opportunity for mischief and mistakes. No process is ever perfect, but it was a better process when the committed citizens who made the time available to participate in local party had the leverage removed by reforms. It’s not gone forever. Conservatives must fill the empty PC slots and undo the damage that has been done.