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Phil: In a rare moment of concurrence, I think we have an issue we agree on.
Ethan: Happiness that the Yankees are in last place?
Phil: I was actually referring to the movement to create semi-open primaries in Maine.
Ethan: Seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.
Phil: Agree. Here is what we are talking about. The Legislature is considering a bill to allow “unenrolled” registered voters to vote in party primaries. Which, of course, is already allowed in Maine, you just have to enroll in the party holding the primary.
Ethan: And even if you are a Republican or Democrat, you can actually vote in the other party’s primary by registering in the other party. The only caveat is that you have to remain registered in your new party for at least 90 days.
Phil: Seems a small price to pay. Especially since it costs you literally nothing, except perhaps a few dozen emails from Sen Ted Cruz, or Rep. Maxine Waters.
Ethan: Unenrolled voters probably would have gotten those anyway.
Phil: Good point.
Ethan: If the goal of this bill is to increase turnout in primary elections, I’d suggest focusing on early voting, drop boxes, open absentee ballot voting, online and/or automatic voter registration. Any of these will do way more to increase voter participation than what is being proposed.
Phil: Or, perhaps, make your own party more appealing to independents, so they are happy to join your party.
Phil: Don’t get too far over your skis. After a couple years of President Joe Biden, I am sure they will come flocking back. But your point is important. While Democrats have surged, Republicans have also increased (just not as fast). It is “unenrolled” that has decreased dramatically.
Ethan: Which undermines the argument that this will make the parties more welcoming, since that’s already happening. I suspect that most of the motivation actually comes from folks who are unsatisfied with their party, but don’t want to leave it because of political necessity.
Phil: Are you referring to Rep. Jared Golden’s support for this idea? He has shown no shortage of dissatisfaction with Democratic leaders. However, instead of pushing this idea, I would strongly encourage him to simply leave those big spending Democrats and formally join the Republican philosophy of limited government!
Ethan: That would be political death. But if our theory is true, why is one of your leaders, state Senate Minority Leader Matt Pouliot, also pushing this idea? He is certainly not seen as someone out of step with his party.
Phil: Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps he’s worried about a primary challenge and he thinks unenrolled voters will vote for his opponent?
Ethan: The bottom line is that while this idea won’t be the end of the world, it just doesn’t seem necessary.
Phil: Welcome to my world. That’s how I feel about 90 percent of what Augusta does.
Walter Mondale Memoriam
Ethan: On another note, a quick word on the passing of former Vice President Walter Mondale. The first electoral campaign I ever worked on was his bid for president in 1984. I was 16 and I handed out flyers in Harlem praising his long record on civil rights (and probably slamming Ronald Reagan’s non-existent one).
Phil: Although Mondale took one of the worst “schellackings” in presidential electoral history ( his word), the man did redefine the office of the vice presidency. He turned it into a genuine advisory role to the presidency. There would have been no George H.W. Bush to Reagan or Dick Cheney to George W. Bush, true partners to the presidency, were it not for him.
Ethan: While I could have done without Cheney, Mondale’s other great legacy was nominating a woman as vice president. No doubt, he laid the groundwork for our current occupant.
Phil: Whatever your persuasion, our country owes him a great debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.