Posted by Patrick McWhortor on November 10, 2015 at 9:01 AM
When our country was founded, the American Revolutionaries rallied around one principle: the people should rule, not the kings.
To that end, the concept of an election was the essential building block of American democracy, setting us apart from Europe. This idea, that people should hold elections to decide who governs, has been a beacon to revolutionaries across the world who have pursued democratic reforms since 1776.
Furthermore, elections and the rights of the voters who participate in them have been at the heart of democratic progress since those revolutionary days 240 years ago. First, expanding voting rights to anyone who did not own property established the idea that EVERY person should be able to vote. It was then necessary to expand the definition of a person, so that blacks, then women, native Americans, and eventually every citizen would have full voting rights. Since then, it has been a constant struggle to ensure that everyone’s right to vote is protected. Today, independents suffer the greatest voter suppression effort in history and fight for their rights. This march of progress has always centered on the essential ingredient of our democracy: an election.
So the fact is that elections in America belong to us, the people. We have had to fight for them over and over again, from the battlefields of the American Revolution to the streets of Selma. Every step of the way, the people have had to secure control of the elections which are the center of the very idea of the United States of America.
But we are not done.
We are still fighting for this right today because political insiders seem to think that elections belong to them. The insider establishment of our major political parties seems to believe that the elections belong to them. And they want to keep control of them, even if it means that the people have to be shut out.
The Open Primaries movement is motivated by the burning desire of everyday citizens across Arizona who are fed up with the games played by political insiders and special interests. They see the shrinking base of the major political parties as evidence that the parties are more interested in responding to the very narrow views of a few insiders who control them. But they are not driven by the people who are the heart of democracy.
And so the parties try to control the elections, knowing it is their only hope of retaining favor with the special interests and lobbyists which control them.
It is time to take our elections back.
When former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson speaks to audiences across the state, he often says: “For the average citizen, the only lobbyist they can afford to hire is the one they elect.”
The people deserve to have elected representatives who answer to all citizens, not just the party insiders.
That is why one fed-up citizen at a recent organizing meeting of Independent Voters for Arizona pounded the table and said “We’re in charge, dammit!”
He’s right. We are in charge. These elections belong to us, not the parties. It is time to take them back.