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A primer on partisan politics

by KRISTY REED JOHNSON/Guest Opinion
| April 9, 2022 1:00 AM

Primary Ballot: A process of selecting a person to represent a SPECIFIC POLITICAL PARTY, for a specific elected office, in the following general election. All CANDIDATES must declare and commit to be members of THAT specific political party to APPEAR on that ballot.

WHO gets to VOTE in a Primary election? EVERY REGISTERED VOTER! However, there will be TWO ballots, ONE for Democrat and ONE for Republican candidates. Voters can only vote in ONE Primary, not both. Here’s where the rules are different in every State: Each POLITICAL PARTY sets the rules about WHO can vote in their Primary elections. In IDAHO, the Democrat Primary is “OPEN”, which means any registered voter of ANY party affiliation may vote in that Primary. In IDAHO, the Republican Primary is “CLOSED”, which means ONLY voters who are registered as Republicans can vote in THAT Primary. All Independents, Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, Democratic Party etc. are purposely excluded from voting in the Republican primary.

NEITHER political party can STOP a person from filing to run as a candidate for an elected office as EITHER a Democrat or a Republican, but recent history says you better have the blessing of the KCRCC to run for office on a Republican or Non-Partisan ballot or face a barrage of personal attacks.

IN SOME ELECTIONS (especially local) there may be multiple candidates running in the Republican Primary, and one or none running for that office in the Democratic Primary.

SO, if voters actually want to have a voice in WHO will most likely be the elected official for that office, concerned voters will register as Republicans so they can vote in the Republican Primary. In North Idaho, “party switchers” are the demagogues of endless conspiracies.

Precinct Committee Chair Position: This is an elected position ON THE PRIMARY BALLOT of both the Democrats and the Republicans. This is the CORE of partisan politics. This is the “Central Committee”, represented by one person from each precinct in each county, whose members also coordinate with that specific Party at the STATE level. This is the committee that writes the “Party Platform” which expresses what that party represents as a Policy Statement. These platforms evolve over time, and CONTROL of the Central Committee membership, controls the party platform and positions on specific issues. Are you beginning to understand why SOME Republicans are so paranoid about THEIR Primary voters?

In retaliation against “party switchers” some genius decided that Republicans should register as Democrats, file for Precinct Chair Positions, and “take over” the Democrat Central Committee in Kootenai County. As a Kootenai County Democrat for almost 30 years, my first reaction was to burst out laughing. However, our local Democrats rallied to fill most of the vacant Precinct Positions, so we will continue to have a Central Committee that focuses on the issues of the people of Kootenai County, not personal power grabs, or extreme positions on important issues.

For those Republicans who filed as Democrats and get elected in the May Primary, our leadership has requested your resignation ASAP. However, I personally welcome you to participate on our Central Committee, as long as you are willing to be respectful, share your ideas as well as listen to ours. We are a “big tent” party. We share a multitude of points of view. Our leadership has been tasked with “herding cats” on many occasions.

This is how an EFFECTIVE Democracy functions. If we are to continue this 200 plus year old experiment in a form of government, we must be able to have different ideas and “how to” approaches to effective government. Just dismantling government or having some strident, narrow philosophy that EXCLUDES those whose life experience or points of view are different from ours is a prescription for authoritarian, not democratic government.

Final comment:

POWER CORRUPTS, ABSOLUTE POWER ABSOLUTELY CORRUPTS.

• • •

Kristy Reed Johnson is a Post Falls resident.

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