The paper begins by highlighting the objectives of the essay, which are in a bid to argue for whether political parties should conduct their primaries in either open or closed nominations. The essay acknowledges that most parties are taking party nominations seriously because they foster internal democracy and participation. It goes further to conceptualize briefly both open and closed approaches in handling party elections. If a political party adopts the former, any registered voter is eligible to participate in its nominations. While if the party embraces the latter the registered party members only take part in its primaries. After this description, the writing argues for the closed primaries case. It elaborates the reasons that places closed systems in a better position in handling political party nominations. The paper identifies four key reasons in argument for this case. First, it acknowledges that they strictly leave the party affairs to the registered party members only. Two, it believes the party members understand its principles and values thus they know the right candidates who can champion for the same when in power. Three, the approaches enhance internal democracy and participation, and finally they motivate the party members and supporters in taking part in the general elections campaigns for their candidates and their ideologies. Lastly, the script concludes by recognizing that closed primaries facilitate the strengthening of the political party organizations.
Should Political Parties Choose Their Nominees in Open or Closed Primaries?
The essay recognizes the two ways in which political parties can conduct their primaries. In this case, it refers to open and closed methods in handling party nominations. Thereafter the script identifies the preferred approach and argues for this case. Most scholars argue the practice of internal democracy differentiates political parties. This is because the nomination process fosters the participation of party members and supporters, in identifying who will be their flag bearers of the respective seats in the general elections. Kernell (2014) underscores this as follows, “Parties with greater inclusiveness are more democratic. They allow members, or even voters, to control nominations, while those that are more “exclusive” put selection in the hands of party elite.” (p.4)
Most political parties carry out their nominations in either open, closed or top-two ways with some adopting the hybrid strategy that is a combination of the previously mentioned methods. However, this writing will concentrate on the open and closed primaries only. In the case of open nominations, any registered voter can take part despite one’s political affiliation. For instance, a Democrat may vote in the Republican Party nominations and vice versa. Similarly, one who is not inclined to any of the two parties may participate in the primaries of any of the two. On the other hand, in closed primaries the registered members of that political party only, vote the candidates of their choice in the nominations. For example, in Democrats’ nominations the registered Democrats only take part in their primaries and likewise for the Republicans’ nominations. (NCSL, 2011)
Considering the above description, one observes that closed primaries are better than the open nominations. First, in the closed primaries, there is involvement of registered party members only unlike in the open primaries case where any registered voter is eligible. (NCSL, 2011) This justifies the significance of one being a registered member of a political party. Since, the registered party members only take part in its affairs, which minimizes interference by the foes. Nevertheless, even in cases where the opponents may use some members to influence party decisions, there is a mechanism to discipline such unfaithful members found responsible.
Second, the party members are conversant with the principles and values of the party. Therefore, they will have a chance to nominate a popular candidate who will champion for the same in one’s government. This lessens the external influence by the enemies of the party who would like it to have weak candidates for theirs to win with ease. Although, the closed nominations lock out both independent and non-partisan registered voters, if not handled appropriately they can lead to intraparty divisions. Third, the nominations cultivate and nurture internal democracy and participation. The party members choose the candidates of their choice and own them provided the process is democratic. Lastly, the approach motivates the party members and supporters to participate actively in general elections campaigns, because they are confident of their candidates and their respective ideologies. (Kernell, 2014, p.5)
In conclusion, the trend is that political parties are considering their primaries very important. This is because they encourage internal democracy and participation. In addition, if not handled with caution the opponents may influence the nomination process to their (opponents) advantage during general elections hence win easily. It is from this premise that one can conclude closed primaries are the best, because they minimize external interference by the enemies. Furthermore, they strengthen the party organization because the registered party members only take part in the nominations. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (2011) emphasizes this as follows, “Proponents say that closed systems contribute to a strong party organization.” hence the argument for the case of closed primaries.
Kernell, E. (2014, February). Party Nominations Rules and Compaign Participation. Evanston: Northwestern University.
NCSL. (2011, September 28). State Primary Election Types. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).