It’s time to follow James Madison’s advice
For the past several weeks, we have listened and read numerous accounts of so-called “election fraud” willfully (and irresponsibly) perpetuated by Republican officials across the United States and here in Arizona.
As we hear these arguments, we all would do well to remember the following facts:
- Both the Republican and Democratic Parties are private organizations who receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidized support to run their private Primary Elections. To be on the Primary ballot, a candidate must be a member of that party and unaffiliated candidates are banned from appearing. In fact, unaffiliated candidates must collect more than twice as many signatures and in some cases, up to five times the number of signatures to even have their name on the General Election ballot. A primary is monopoly controlled by both parties.
- In Arizona, over 31% of registered voters are considered as “other” by the Secretary of State. While we may call these individuals “independents,” the one fact we know for sure is that they refuse the private brand of either party.
- The party chair of each state party is elected by precinct committeemen and women who are elected at taxpayer subsidized elections. In these elections, less than 37% of voters participate in Primary Elections and even fewer vote in the precinct committee races. That means that at least 63% of Arizona’s electorate has not participated in electing these officials who, today, are willfully questioning the integrity of our election.
- We are talking about allegations of fraud in an election where the chief election officer in Maricopa County, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid to a Republican. Even more to the point, we are talking about an election taking place in Maricopa County, where four Republican supervisors and one Democrat oversee all election activity.
- George Washington in his farewell address warned us of this moment, “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally… It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.”
Finally, we need look no further than the founding of our country and Federalist Paper No. 10 where James Madison defined faction as; “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
Madison opined that there are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: “the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.”
It’s time we do both. Arizona needs to immediately end publicly funded partisan Primary Elections which empower these very factions. We should adopt an open, competitive primary system where all candidates can run against one another, regardless of party registration, and the top two candidates run in the General Election runoff.
Indeed, very few people complain about our nonpartisan municipal elections. So, let’s do as Madison suggested, and remove its cause. As our founding President understood, partisan political parties only aim is to control us to benefit them. It is time we open the process and remove the shackles of partisanship from our election process.
Each candidate should be required to collect the same number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. The election should be open and let the best two compete for the office; Republican, Democrat, Independent or unaffiliated. Let the voters decide – we don’t need parties to control us.
We have come to a point, as Washington predicted, where factions of both parties have become more loyal to their party than to their country. It is time to follow Madison’s advice and begin to cure this treachery.
Open the primary elections, let’s stop letting the tail wag the dog.