Imagine going to vote only to be told, “There is no need for you to choose a candidate. The political party your candidate belongs to has decided who the winner is. You can go home now.”
While this scenario may sound ridiculous it is actually playing out right now within some Republican Party circles. Already South Carolina, Nevada and Kansas GOP officials have announced they will not hold presidential primaries or caucuses in 2020.
In these states all delegates will simply be awarded to President Trump.
Other states may follow including Arizona although that state has not officially announced its decision on a 2020 primary.
Ironically this is not the first time something of this nature has happened. Typically, national parties don’t want an incumbent president to face a primary. Both sides have been guilty of this in the past.
However, the ridiculous argument that it saves money does not hold much credence. It’s not a surprise that a presidential election is held every four years. If a state party, be it Republican or Democrat, does not have adequate funds for a president primary (or caucus) then someone is not managing financial matters.
Currently President Trump has three legitimate primary challengers in former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former Illinois congressman and Tea Party activist Joe Walsh. All three have held elected office, two at the state level. That makes them legitimate challengers.
Even if Republican voters want President Trump as the party’s nominee in 2020 then why not go to the polls and say so. In reality, Trump is all but assured to be the nominee. However, that is for voters to make official not for Republican Party leaders.
Fortunately, GOP leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states where voters make their voices heard, will not be cancelling their respective events. Iowa holds a caucus while New Hampshire voters take part in a primary.
"Under no circumstances will the New Hampshire primary ever be canceled, whether there's token opposition or a serious contest," Steve Duprey, New Hampshire's national Republican committeeman said in published interviews.
Even some Republicans in South Carolina disagree with what their state has done.
"This was a shady backroom deal where a small group of party insiders made a big decision that stops hundreds of thousands of voters from participating in the process," said South Carolina Republican leader Rob Godfrey.
Chip Felkel, another veteran South Carolina Republican operative, is not happy either.
"What's the RNC and the Trump campaign afraid of?" pondered Felkel, who worked for Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential bid. "This to me, no matter how they spin it, suggests there's weakness they don't want to reveal."
Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire GOP chairman, said the push to cancel primaries sets a dangerous precedent.
"This is the kind of thing that happens in autocratic nations led by dictators," Cullen said. "One way to ensure that the president of Russia gets 98 percent of the vote is you don't allow anyone else on the ballot."
Ironically Trump may very well poll 90 percent in GOP primaries and caucuses. He remains popular with the GOP base. He certainly does not need the help of party insiders in terms of cancelling election dates.
Thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate price when it comes to our right to vote. While some Americans chose not to exercise that right (another column for another time) it is still our right to decide who will represent us at the local, state and national levels.
Let the nomination process be fair and open. Don’t throw out silly and outright false reasons why a vote will not be held. As Americans we deserve better. As Americans we should be outraged, even those who support President Trump against his GOP challengers.
Chris Bridges is a former editor with MainStreet Newspapers. He has earned awards for his columns from the National Newspaper Association, the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback from readers about this column at email@example.com.