Original article published on Yes! Weekly by Jim Longworth available here
Last December, Drew McKissick, chairman of the South Carolina GOP, told the Washington Examiner that he would not rule out canceling S.C.’s 2020 primary if President Trump should face a serious challenge from a member of his own party. Last week he made good on that promise. As radical as that seems, keep in mind that South Carolina did the same thing in 2004 when incumbent President George W. Bush looked vulnerable after having invaded the wrong country the year before. Instead of letting folks decide a primary winner, Luke Byars, then serving as state chairman, convened a private meeting of the South Carolina Republican State Executive Committee, and passed a resolution which endorsed the President for re-election.
The same thing happened in 1992 when the Iowa GOP canceled their caucuses, for fear that challenger Pat Buchannan would embarrass George H.W. Bush early on. That brings us back to 2020 and Donald Trump, whose tariff policies are starting to erode his base, while folks like former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich wait in the wings for a possible primary challenge. It could be a long wait, according to former South Carolina Republican chairman Matt Moore, who told the Examiner “Pigs will fly before the South Carolina GOP allows Trump to have opposition.” Flying pigs aside, what Iowa did in 1992 and South Carolina did in 2004 is nothing short of voter suppression because it denied Republicans and Independents the right to vote. But, in fact, it was legal. Those states’ parties were merely playing hardball politics, something modern-day Democrats don’t seem to know how to do. For example, an overwhelming majority of Democratic Congressmen want to impeach Trump, but Nancy Pelosi says the Senate wouldn’t convict, so no action is taken. Meanwhile, some Democrats say they are waiting for the Southern District of New York or other plaintiffs to run Trump out of office, but that probably won’t happen.
If Democrats really want to rid the nation of Trump, they don’t have to wait until next fall. All they have to do is be creative and play hardball ahead of the primaries. In most states, if you are a registered Democrat, you must vote in the Democratic primary, and “unaffiliated” voters must declare which party’s primary they want to vote in, on the day of the primary. But guess what? You can switch your party affiliation ahead of time, and vote in the opposition primary. In North Carolina, for example, you must switch your party affiliation within 25 days of the primary, which is on March 3, 2020. In other words, a Democrat can vote in the Republican primary by simply changing their registration in accordance with deadlines established in each state. So how is this a strategy to deny Trump a second term?
It’s simple. You switch your party affiliation, walk into the booth on primary day, and vote for one of Trump’s leading Republican challengers. Let’s take North Carolina as an example. There are just over 2 million registered Democrats in our State, and about that many unaffiliated voters. If a majority of them cast their ballot for Bill Weld in the primary, then President Trump won’t have enough delegates to win the state. If Democrats in every state do the same thing, Trump would be denied before he even gets to run for a second term.
By switching parties, you forfeit your right to vote for your favorite Democrat, but the overwhelming majority of likely Democratic voters in the U.S. tells pollsters that any Democrat would be better than Trump. If that’s true, then what’s stopping you Democrats from becoming a temporary Republican during your State’s primary? Of course, some Republican leaders could counter a Democratic party-switching ploy by canceling their state’s primary, but, South Carolina aside, I can’t see today’s more engaged conservative electorate accepting a mass movement to disenfranchise themselves from the process. So Democrats, stop your whining and lamenting, and get ready to play hardball. I’ve even got a slogan for your end-run movement: “Pigs will fly in 2020!”.
Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).