ICYMI [editor: In case you missed it] the Montana Republican Party voted to close Montana’s Republican primary elections at the GOP state convention. While I sympathize with the frustrations behind this effort, closing the primaries is a bad idea because it would create more problems than it solves.

The timeline that led us to said bad proposal looks like this:

1. Huge MT GOP infighting between “conservatives” and “responsibles” spills over from the 2013 legislative session to the 2014 primary election.
2. Candidates on both sides of the “war” spend more time campaigning about why the other side is the devil incarnate than talking about solutions or explaining what they plan to accomplish in the 2015 session. Emotions run at a feverish, middle school drama level.
3. MEA-MFT sends out an email encouraging its members and supporters to back the “responsible” Republican in several races.
4. Some of the “conservatives” lose to the “responsibles” that MEA-MFT backed.
5. The “conservatives” vow to end “Democrat crossover” voting by closing Montana’s primaries to only allow registered Republicans to vote in Republican primary elections.
6. Delegates at the state convention vote to support that idea after a couple days of heavy lobbying at the convention by those most passionate about the issue.

If we look back at this timeline, it becomes clear that the root cause of the “conservatives’” election losses was intra-party wagon circling, not Democrat crossover. Sure, some crossover in a couple races might have ultimately decided those elections, but closing primaries does absolutely nothing to solve the root problem. Closing the primaries is a treatment for the symptom, not the disease.

The symptom treatment comes with a lot of negative side effects. The downsides of forcing Republican primary voters to register as Republicans include:

1. It violates voters’ privacy, which will come into play in the points below.

2. Making the party even more exclusive rather than inclusive, which is a step backward, not a step forward.

3. Pissing Montana voters off. A huge number of Montanans identify as Independents or some other extra-party label, and they will not be happy that they’re forced to choose between maintaining that sense of independence and being barred from voting for candidates they like.

4. Pissing young people off. Young people, perhaps more than other demographic today, hate being labeled at all, and especially hate being labeled under a political party banner. If the Republicans are the ones to close primaries, they will pay among young voters. I’m active in Montana Republican politics, and even I might not register.

5. Forcing certain professionals to choose between voting and giving up their nonpartisanship. MSU political scientist David Parker already said on Twitter that he’d probably not vote if primaries were closed, in order to avoid the perception of bias as he tries to be a neutral commentator. This same problem would apply to every single journalist in Montana that covers politics.

6. Forcing voters to choose between voting in their party’s primary elections and being discriminated against. It’s horribly ironic that the people who have been targeted by the IRS for their political affiliations are the same ones arguing to force people to self-identify their political beliefs. Ignoring the potential for state regulatory bodies to follow the in the corrupt footsteps of the IRS, party identification can have ramifications in the purely private sector as well. Take the example of a Republican business owner in Butte. I’ve been told by Butte Republican business owners that they keep their political beliefs “in the closet” (get it?) out of fear of being boycotted by the unions. Closing the primaries would force that business owner to choose between voting and suffering potentially fatal damage to their business interests.

There are more specific problems we could delve into, but the tl;dr version is:

Closing Montana Republican primaries would create more problems than it solves, and it is an emotional overreaction to a comparatively small problem. Crossover generally only occurs by a few dozen voters in a couple elections per cycle. In this case, the side effects of the symptom treatment are far worse than the symptom itself.

A while ago Don Pogreba (Pogie) asked on Twitter [editor: found at @dpogreba] what some of the so-called MT GOP Young Guns thought of the idea of closing Republican primary elections in Montana. Sorry it took so long to respond, Don, but hopefully this post answers your question. Although it was written by one individual, I know it speaks for several of us, because I’ve talked to many other young Republicans about it.

The Republican platform needs to change. From the founding of our contry we the people have had an understanding of who we want to be. We did not want to be under the rule of tyrants, we did not want to merely exist and live meager lives; we as a people understood an opportunity for global exceptionism was available and together formed the United States of America.

From the humble roots of our founding documents we added. We added laws, court rulings, and more, to try and create a more equal and perfect government. We have not succeeded. Instead we made a nation of poorly written laws that are poorly enforced, or worse, are enforced as a means of targeting individuals or groups. It does not matter these laws were created with the best of intention, for as with all things they have unintended consequences. Having recently entered the dawn of of a new millennium and nearing 250 years of our Democracy, it is time we take a step back. It is time we take a long hard look at what has been accomplished, and rather than continue to add — instead we start to shape, mold, and remove existing laws to create a better and smaller government.

The first step in this is with our own platform. Convention after convention we add; we change; and rarely, we remove. Over time we have evolved as Republicans and grown into what? We are a party of strong individuals but of weak factions. Together these factions pick single issues and make sweeping decisions on them. This doesn’t strengthen our candidates or our party, rather it weakens us as a party and allows the incremental and insidious insertion of egalitarianism in our everyday life via the Democratic party and their success in our absence.

It is time we tear up the planks of our platform and show the true foundation we stand on. The foundation of liberty, of justice, of freedom, of life liberty and happiness for all. Our platform should not be made from the ideas of various factions but of the fundamental ideas that makes our country great; the ideas written into our state and national constitutions.

The responsibility to defend the constitution lies most with Republicans. We are the defenders of freedom. We are the defenders of our rights, both god given and those in the constitution. We are the defenders of all the things that make America the best country on earth. For this to happen we need to leave behind the party of divided factions. Instead we must step forward as the party united under defending the constitution.

It is time for us to evolve back into the party of one nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice for all.

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lib·er·ty noun ˈli-bər-tē

: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
– Oxford Dictionary

The foundation, the cornerstone, the very bedrock of our beloved U.S.A is Liberty. Not the idea of liberty, not the principle of Liberty, but the daily living of ones life free from oppressive restrictions of others. Liberty is the founding principle of the political system United States. Within the idea of libery, it is understood there are necessary restrictions needed to be placed upon individuals for a functional society to form. People should be restrained from killing other people. Stealing should be condemned. In our modern society the vast majority of people understand and agree to these underlying restrictions on liberty as necessary, however unnecessary restrictions to liberty should be stopped at all costs.

Right now members of government are working to massively and *unnecessarily* impede on the liberties of the everyday American, with the most blatant program being the mandated healthcare law.

Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the United States government, had this to say regarding government, “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.””

Many would argue that, in our current situation, the healcare mandate is motivated to enable people to live in happiness. While this is partially true, as some would benefit, it comes at the cost of restricting the liberty of an entire nation for a myopic goal. To what end? To further a broken system? To stuff the pockets of large healthcare providers, while still implementing a system that does more to transfer wealth than actually heal? To place near unsurmountable barriers on smaller medical clinics forcing them to align with mega-healthcare providers? No, this is not an end that helps people. This is an end that unnecessarily limits the freedom of small business and individuals. While Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of enabling happiness, it was never at the expense of liberty.

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” ― Thomas Jefferson

It is a travesty that the current population of America is at all time low in talking about liberty. According to the Google graph at the beginning of this post, we’ve been on a downhill slope since the 1920’s…but perhaps there’s hope — there has been a strong and consistent trend of Liberty in recent years that’s building momentum.

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