I don’t eat yogurt.
I’m not a soccer fan.
I’ve never seen an episode of “Game of Thrones.”
I don’t feel excluded from the cabals that revel in these fads, because I’m comfortable with my decisions not to eat disgusting slop, waste hours on a sport where no one scores, or engage with weirdos obsessed about the fates of fictional characters and the incidental appearance of a Starbucks coffee cup.
I feel much the same way about political parties – and for many of the same reasons.
I don’t begrudge anyone their constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble with like-minded individuals to promote whatever unworkable agenda they’ve concocted. But the closest I’ve ever come to enrolling in anything remotely resembling the Republicans, Democrats, Green Independents or Libertarians was when some friends and I declared ourselves members of the Keg Party (motto: We Too Dunk To Numinate Anybuddy). To date, that has satisfied (or suppressed) my need for political socializing.
Nevertheless, a bunch of do-gooders seems intent on saving me from myself by changing Maine law to permit a sort of phony party membership that requires no real commitment and offers no plastic cups full of beer. This legislative measure carries the somewhat repetitive title of “An Act to Open Maine’s Primaries and Permit Unenrolled Voters to Cast Ballots in Primary Elections.”
This bill does pretty much nothing.
As an independent, I’ve always had the right to vote in primaries. All I had to do was go to the polls on Election Day and enroll in whichever party I wished to hinder with my presence, whereupon I could cast my ballot for whatever odious option seemed least likely to cause a total breakdown of civilization. Thirty days later, I’d be free to withdraw from that party and return to normalcy. While I’ve never exercised this option, I’ve always appreciated its availability on the off chance someone who isn’t crazy, stupid or evil decides to run for partisan public office.
The only change this legislation makes is that I wouldn’t have to sign up for a party and then withdraw. So, I’d never have to take any responsibility for the results.
What are the arguments for this alleged reform of primary elections?
“It is unfortunate that such a significant bloc of Maine voters (35 percent of the electorate) is prohibited from participating in these taxpayer-funded elections,” Portland City Councilor Pious Ali, a Democrat, wrote in a Portland Press Herald op-ed. “If Democrats want to lay claim as the party of inclusivity, they must also include political independents into the process.”
Thanks all the same, but I’m not currently prohibited. I just don’t want to be included.
Republican political consultant Lance Dutson wrote a column for the Bangor Daily News in which he admitted open primaries would be “weird,” but justified this change because the system is so “warped,” it needs an “emergency intervention.”
Dutson is right about the weird part.
In another BDN op-ed, former GOP state Sen. Brian Langley of Ellsworth claimed, “Opening Maine’s primaries to unenrolled voters would give greater legitimacy to the political parties as institutions and could help to aid their cause.”
Legitimizing political parties and aiding their cause are the exact opposites of what I’m trying to do.
In fact, I’d rather eat yogurt and binge-watch “Game of Thrones.”
If you think I’ve scored more points than the average soccer match, email me at [email protected]