Dear Editor of the Los Angeles Times,
In his November 25 essay ("Only Fed-Up Voters Can Fix State's Damaged System for Picking Legislators"), George Skelton takes aim at the closed primary, defending a proposal for an open, non-partisan primary to produce more "moderate" candidates. His real aim, however, is the party system itself, and the Constitution that the parties were formed to protect.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties were born in times of constitutional crises. At their best, both parties historically have focused political debate on the Constitution, and worked to defend limited, constitutional government. Liberals long ago understood that to accomplish their goal — undermining the Constitution and building in its place a welfare state of unlimited scope and power — they first had to strip political parties of their power. During the first quarter of the 20th century liberals effectively dismantled the parties with "reforms" such as the direct primary, initiative, referendum, and recall. FDR then rebuilt one party as an agent of the New Deal welfare state then under construction, and today the Democratic Party remains a monument to government bureaucracy, entitlements, and preferences.
A non-partisan, open primary would make parties all but meaningless in California elections, especially the Republican Party, which has stood athwart the unconstitutional designs of the liberalism that drives the Democratic Party. Instead of debating opposing party platforms and principles, candidates would compete with one another to offer the most government loot, expanding the already sizable classes of citizens (and non-citizens) dependent on government favors and largesse. The public would see no alternative to the liberal, welfare state conception of government, because there would be no political organization to offer or defend an alternative. Candidates encouraged by such a system would be anything but "moderate."
The Claremont Institute