I believe the elections this year more than ever point to the practicality of having open primaries. All taxpayers in the territory underwrite the primaries. Therefore, all electors should be eligible to participate in all primary elections regardless of party affiliation. Open primaries would preclude the change in party affiliation only to participate in the primaries.
Presently persons interested in participating in the primaries change their party affiliation to participate in the primary of the party that usually uses the primary method to select their candidates, namely the Democratic Party. However, this practice affects the other parties, it reduces their registered membership. Parties need the signatures of their members to register their candidates for party offices and public offices. The reduction of membership makes it more difficult to gather signatures. The open primaries would preclude the need to change party membership to participate and would reduce the confusion of persons forgetting to restore their membership in their preferred party.
Maybe the parties need to develop a better definition of their mission and philosophy on which they can build their membership. The parties need to develop identities that would distinguish them one from the other and command a loyal following based on principles and not personalities. I believe there would be less desertion, as is the common occurrence. There would be less no-party subscribers because the parties would be more attractive. Parties are very important in a democratic society; they play a very critical role. Parties are like incubators for political leaders and help develop teamwork and collective actions.
Party politics are to contribute to the orderly transition between administrations in government and lends some continuity in policies. Party politics allow for peaceful competition for political power based on established rules accepted by all parties. I believe the case for open primaries has been made; it is up to the politicians to enact the pertinent legislations to allow open primaries. It is up the people to pressure their representatives in the legislature to allow for open primaries. In the general elections all electors are allowed to participate, the outcome affects the whole community. Let us introduce open primaries in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the benefit of our democratic society and the orderly evolution of our political system. Let us exercise our rights and the power granted us by the Constitution and laws of the Virgin Islands and demand that the legislators, our representatives, enact the pertinent laws that we may have open primaries.
J. J. Estemac
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