by Jordan Green
Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, made a persuasive argument in the Sunday Washington Post that the danger to democracy and human decency posed by Donald Trump can only be stopped by a coordinated effort across party lines.
First, she urges John Kasich and Ben Carson to drop out of the presidential race so Republicans can coalesce around Marco Rubio. Second, she recommends that Democrats switch their registration so they can help block Trump by voting for Rubio in the primary.
As a registered independent in North Carolina, I can already vote in the Republican primary. And much as I have been relishing the opportunity to have my say in the Hillary-Bernie intramural that is electrifying the Democratic contest, I’ve found myself seriously considering voting a Republican ballot on March 15 and casting a vote for Rubio.
There are some serious downsides, and I’m far from decided on whether this is the right course of action. For one, I can’t think of a single issue on which I agree with Rubio, and he could wind up being the worst warmonger of the Republican field. More importantly, a Rubio vote for me would concede that there’s no hope for advancement in this election, only to shore up the deeply flawed status quo to prevent my country from going down in flames.
But it got me thinking that maybe progressive independents should be voting in more Republican primaries. As has been highlighted in the North Carolina’s ongoing saga of court-ordered redistricting (See Citizen Green), the maps are effectively rigged to ensure that Republicans hold 10 out of 13 congressional seats. If you consider that 44.3 percent of all ballots in North Carolina’s 2014 congressional races and 51.0 percent of all ballots in 2012 were cast for Democratic candidates, then it follows that 21.2 to 28.0 percent of the state’s voters — mainly political progressives who live in urban areas — are effectively disenfranchised.
So if the action is in the Republican Party, let’s crash it. Maybe we can rein in the madness. Or maybe not: The challenge is that there are no Republican candidates left who identify themselves as moderates; every two years Republican officeholders face a crop of challengers who claim to be even more conservative. How far can it go?
If you’re an independent in suburban Winston-Salem or rural Forsyth County, voting in the Republican primary actually presents the opportunity to do more than block bad candidates. Republicans currently hold a 4-3 advantage over Democrats on the seven-member county board, but the Republican majority is split between moderates and conservatives, with the two moderates frequently voting with the board’s three Democrats. The board’s moderate Republican-Democrat coalition effectively holds the balance of power over the conservative Republicans. The board’s governing majority has lifted the county’s debt limit, authorized bond spending on the long overdue downtown library and is entertaining a proposal for a major school bond this year.
The action is in the Republican primary for District B, with four candidates vying for three seats in the suburban-rural doughnut district. If the moderate Dave Plyler manages to retain his seat against a challenge from Bill Whiteheart, a former commissioner, his victory will prevent conservatives from gaining clout and perhaps slowing down investment in schools, parks and other critical needs.
There’s a vote that truly matters, and one a progressive independent should be proud to cast.