"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Party On! 

Here's a letter which I sent today to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
I confess that I am baffled by the general hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing inspired by US Judge Thomas Zilly's ruling (recently affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), holding that Washington's political parties may limit participation in their nominating primaries. Surely it's clear that the parties are private - not public - entities, existing in part for the purpose of nominating representatives to stand in the general election. It makes no more sense to suggest that I have the right to participate in the parties' nomination process, despite my choice not to join a party, than to suggest that I am entitled to participate in the selection of Microsoft's board of directors when I am not a shareholder, or to participate in selecting this year's Oscar winners when I am not a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. This, to me, seems so obvious as to be beyond reasonable debate.

That said, I am likewise baffled by the notion that the parties are entitled to conduct their nominating primaries at public expense. The parties are free to select their nominees by whatever means they prefer - whether by primary, by convention, or by the drawing of straws - but they have no right to receive a subsidy from the taxpayers to underwrite the cost of their nominating process.

Leave the political parties free to select their nominees with or without inviting the participation of the general public, in any manner they choose. But in any case insist that they, and they alone, bear the cost.

 

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