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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionEditorial: Playing around in primaries can come back to bite

Editorial: Playing around in primaries can come back to bite

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Some years back – it goes without saying, when he was still among the living – righty radio talker Rush Limbaugh decided to have some fun by creating what he called “Operation Chaos.” It was a plan to have Republicans cross over to vote in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses in an effort to sow discord between the campaigns of combatants Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Limbaugh really didn’t expect the effort to impact the ultimate result; for all his power within conservative circles, he also tended to enjoy the role of political court jester, creating mirth as much as mayhem.

Democrats, predictably and not without some reason, criticized the effort as interference in the lower-case-d democratic process as well as the upper-case-d Democratic process.

Yet here we are in 2022, when some Democratic strategists have been crowing about the party’s efforts to have voters cross over into Republican nominating contests. Their goal: To secure victory in those primaries for the candidates Democrats believe are the least electable, in November, among the GOP options.

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Classy, it is not, particularly coming from the party that purports to hold the moral high ground on election integrity. But as we saw when Democrats first were unflinching supporters of an independent redistricting process in Virginia, then (many) did a complete reversal when Democrats regained power in Richmond and didn’t want to hand over district-making to anyone else, the moral high ground is, like just about everything else, not what it used to be.

These shenanigans, whether coming from right or left, Republicans or Democrats, do little to improve shaky public confidence in our election system. And they’re also kinda dopey: Some of those “unelectable” Republicans will no doubt get elected, and may end up becoming formidable political forces down the road.

Political types need to be careful, as they might end up getting what they wished for. Limbaugh was hoping “Operation Chaos” helped in a small way to make Barack Obama the 2008 Democratic nominee, presuming he would be a softer opponent than Hillary Clinton. Democrats salivated over the prospect of Ronald Reagan as the Republican nominee for president in 1980 and Donald Trump in 2016, considering them easy pickings on Election Day.
Whoops.

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