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GOP Party Leaders Consider Shutting Out Independents in More Primaries

by Caitlin Hurkes, published

Republican Party leaders reportedly started deliberations this week over changes to the way the GOP nominates its presidential candidates. The New York Times reports that after the chaos witnessed this primary season, certain changes seem imminent.

One of the most significant reforms being suggested is limiting the participation of independent voters, citing open primaries as the reason Donald Trump is the party's presumptive nominee.

Some members of both the Democrat and Republican parties feel that only registered party members should determine who their nominees are. Yet in some states, this process would leave out almost 40 percent of American voters who now identify as independent of the two major political parties.

"I think that's probably the biggest discussion of all," Ron Kaufman, Republican national committeeman from Massachusetts told the Times. "People forget one thing. The nomination of the candidates for both parties is not an election. It’s a process."

There are only two major parties in the United States, and as greater attention focuses on the primary process, many now believe they have a monopolistic hold on this "process," as Kaufman calls it. Yet, what some party leaders are currently proposing would further restrict this "process" to a small minority that is often not representative of the general public.

Anti-establishment candidates have been extremely popular this election season and many claim this is because of Americans' distaste for the two-party system. Now, the party might be considering closing off the process even further to independent voters who desire alternative choices.

Both parties' nominating processes have been highly criticized for being unrepresentative. A move to close the system risks alienating the public even further.

Nothing is decided yet, and specific proposals have not been released. All the options will be discussed at the Republican National Convention in July. Other ideas include limiting the influence of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada by having other states compete on the same day as these early primaries.

To make any of these changes, however, the Republican Party would need to infringe on individual states' rights which is counterintuitive to one of their main principles: a limited federal government.

Either way, both parties' conventions will be unique this year. The Republican Party faces the prospect of its first contested convention since 1976, and the Democratic Party is struggling with its own inequities in the nominating process.

It remains to be seen if the parties will decide to open up the nominating process to make it more accountable to all voters or if they will close the process in an attempt to preserve control over the selection of their nominees.

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