Hey, Independents: If you want to vote in a party primary, then you need to belong to a party!

Ah, I love the smell of politics in the morning...

A couple of weeks back (April 5), I registered my disgust with the idea of having non-Democrats and non-Republicans participate in those parties' primaries. I think the idea is reprehensible and indefensible. I also think it's unconstitutional, and I wish somebody would take it to court.

Well, I got a fair amount of e-mail from Independents. They're capitalized these days, don't you know. It fits right in with their haughty air of superiority that comes with not having to take a stand on things. Just kidding; they take stands. Like on their "right" to vote in the primary of a party to which they have every right to belong, but choose not to.

I'm telling you right now: Something horrible is going to happen one day because of this system. It will be a complete distortion of what should be a democratic process, and we're going to get saddled with somebody really ugly.

A half-century ago, California had open primaries. In the election of 1950, up-and-comer Tricky Dick Nixon tried to rig it so that he could win both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, thus guaranteeing him victory in the general election. He won only the Republican primary, so he then embarked on a red-baiting scheme in the general-election campaign. He attacked his opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas (wife of actor Melvyn Douglas), referring to her as "The Pink Lady." Unfortunately, it worked, and the nation was much poorer for having Nixon in various positions of power over the next quarter-century.

Several of the Independents took me to task for trying to shut them out of the political process. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have every right to participate in the general elections, just as they always have. And if they're hell-bent on pissing in somebody else's pool, they could always "join" a political party a few weeks before the election, then "un-join" after the primary. That might take a little work, but then I get the feeling that some of these people probably think that being automatically registered to vote when you get your driver's license is a good idea, too. Voting is special, and it should be treated as such.

I've been kinda bitchy, referring to them as "can't-make-up-their-damn-mind" people, but I have no doubt that a lot of them are very serious citizens who take their citizenship seriously. Maybe they are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, like a lot of Libertarians, although they wouldn't want to be caught dead being referred to as a Libertarian. Whatever the case, I really don't understand their wanting to vote in primaries. Perhaps it's just another example of baby boomers and those who came after them wanting to have their cake and eat it, too.

What do you mean I can't have a full career and do a good job bringing up my kids?! I'll just coin a B.S. phrase and call it "quality time." What do you mean I can't operate a 2,000-pound vehicle and talk on the phone at the same time? I've convinced myself I'm really busy. And what do you mean that I can't separate myself from the two political parties as a sign of my independent thought and my disdain for those losers who are stuck in an archaic notion, yet still have the opportunity to influence matters in an organization on which I have turned my back?

It's simply not right, and the screw-you politicians who put it into effect and the selfish "Independents" who stick their noses where they don't belong should be ashamed of themselves.

One genius tried to sway me with a sports analogy. He wrote, "What if I'm a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan but my team doesn't make the playoffs? Does that mean that I can't root for some other team? I can't root for the 49ers or the Seahawks just because I've been rooting for the Cowboys all season?"

Actually, I think it's more along the lines of this: You can't decide if you want to be a Catholic or a Jew, so you settle on some nondenominational thing, which is fine. There's nothing wrong with a generic God. And while you worship at the nondenominational church, you think it's perfectly OK to go to the Catholic Church whenever you feel like taking Communion. And when your son turns 13, you plan on marching him into the local temple and having a bar mitzvah. Well, it doesn't work like that.

Certainly, politics ain't religion, but neither is it sport. And in terms of significance in our lives, I believe politics is closer to the former than to the latter.

Just about every person I know who calls himself an Independent does so because he has become disillusioned with one or both of the major parties. That's certainly understandable considering the excesses and gutter moves of both the Democrats and the Republicans over the past couple of decades.

But if the two parties are both so despicable, why would an Independent want to tiptoe back into the sludge to take part in the primary? It just doesn't make sense. And it damn sure isn't fair.

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