So much for Montana's "open primaries"
There’s nothing open about open primaries. In a system that blatantly endorses two parties and no more, the idea of an open primary is an oxymoron. Many residents in Dawson County and all over this nation are forced to vote on Republican ballots in order to be represented by those they’d hope to represent them locally.
I was faced with that dilemma on Tuesday. I had intended to vote on the Republican ballot because many of the local elections would be decided in the primary due to a lack of Democratic opposition in the general election. For Democrats or Independents intending to stay in Eastern Montana, it behooves them to vote in the Republican primary because their futures, frankly, depend on it. It is not a fair representation of the voters’ wishes and is hardly a fair way to decide an election.
One of my friends, a Maddow-watching Leftist, gave up his vote for Bernie Sanders in order to vote for those he felt would better represent him locally. They lost, but Bernie won — by three votes. I was one of them. I had to determine whether a vote for a local candidate was worth my vote for a national one, and this time it wasn’t — not because I felt the local candidate wasn’t deserving, but because I felt I might not be here to take advantage of my vote locally. I made the right decision, but it’s a decision none of us should have to make. There’s an easy fix. If a primary election decides the general election, just wait until the general election to have the vote.
A democracy doesn’t put people into boxes [D] or [R]. This American “democracy” disenfranchises voters of neither political party and also those of third parties, much like it disenfranchises the poor. Our political system was designed to keep the rich in power. That’s why you see endless lines to vote all over this nation, allegations of voter fraud and polling stations in Bloomfield closing, forcing people to drive to Glendive to vote on a weekday. Now the Republicans want to close the primaries so Montana Democrats and Independents have even less of a voice. They don’t want you to vote, and they’ve succeeded.
Our democracy would work if 70 percent of people voted. As it stands according to fairvote.org, less than a third of eligible Americans vote. Most don’t because they feel the government does nothing for them and hope it’d just go away. Many feel politicians are the biggest criminals out there, and I’d agree. Some can’t find the time, which Bernie Sanders is attempting to end with a bill to make national election days a national holiday. But the bottomline is, if we don’t vote they win, and they’ve been winning for quite some time.
Anthony Varriano is a contributor to the Ranger-Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.