Opinion: Whose Primary Is It Anyway?

I expected to be writing an article about how the Michigan primary did, in fact, predict the rise or fall of the Romney campaign. But in reality, not so. In fact, the legitimacy of the Michigan primary was publicly undercut Tuesday.

Michigan conducts “open primaries” in which voters do not have to be a member of a political party in order to vote in that party’s primary election. This was the gateway Michigan Democrats marched through to “troll” the Michigan primary, seriously damaging what it meant to vote in the Michigan primary.

Why would Democrats vote in a Republican primary? To cast their vote for the most popular loser, of course. The Michigan primary, a head-to-head battle between former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, was treated like a tie-breaker to determine which candidate was closer to clinch the presidential nomination.

Santorum’s message rings soundly with far-right social conservatives, but has been deemed unfit to win a national election. Michigan Democrats’ logic predicted if their votes could sway the close Michigan primary in Santorum’s favor, they could potentially pull the Republican nod away from more electable Romney.

“In any other election, Rick Santorum should not have done nearly as well, and the fact that Mitt Romney only won by 3% and split Michigan’s delegates is a major problem for Republicans,” said John Fleming, Grosse Ile sophomore.

And while the primary was declared a Romney victory, it means virtually nothing in the long haul. How can we possibly say that democracy works when its participants use the system to subvert its value?

Now, I’m not defending the entire electoral system. If you’ve taken one government class, you already know the loopholes veiled in the Electoral College make voting look like “Chutes and Ladders.”

The turbulent outcome of the Bush-Gore election drew national attention to the breakdown of the presidential electoral system. But political change begins at the bottom. The basic unit of the system, the primary, must be fixed in order to prevent abuse.

Maybe you’ve never voted in a presidential primary and maybe you never will. Actually, most Americans don’t, and participation in the Michigan 2012 primary was at an all-time low. But it’s important that state primaries count and that they all count in the same way.

Whether voters decide to participate in the primaries or not, every person has an opinion. These opinions align with political ideas and values, and these values are housed in political parties. Without primaries—and more importantly primaries that represent Americans’ true beliefs—this crucial instrument of the American voice loses its worth.

But if you ask me, it already has.

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