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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/28/16

Bernie's R.I. Win is a Rebirth for the Democratic Party

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And here's the thing. Bernie isn't just winning over a key voting demographic, he's energizing people to come out and participate in the political process as Democrats.

So if the Democratic Party were smart, it'd capitalize on Bernie's rapport with independents, as well as young people, and try to replicate it across the board.

An obvious starting point would be adopting Bernie's positions on things like healthcare, Social Security, free college, no more stupid wars, and taking on Wall Street.

It's these positions, more than anything else, that have drawn people to the Bernie Sanders campaign and it's why his campaign has done so well despite all the nay-sayers in the establishment passing it off as "just another protest campaign."

But adopting Bernie's policies is only one part of what Democrats need to do to capitalize on his campaign's success. They also need to recreate what's made that success possible, and that's means making all primaries (and caucuses) open contests.

Despite what some people might think about how important is to "have Democrats elect Democrats," closed primaries arguably hurt Democrats in the long run. They artificially limit the party's reach and don't give candidates any incentive whatsoever to win over anyone other than party loyalists.

Open primaries, on the other hand, do the exact opposite.

They expand the party's reach and give candidates a real incentive to win over people who, for one reason or another, don't feel comfortable aligning themselves with a political party.

They also make it a lot easier for voters to take part in the political process because they're a lot easier to understand: if you're registered to vote, you can vote, regardless of the party you belong to. It's that simple.

In fact, a good way to synthesize open and closed primaries would be to have independent voters declare a party affiliation on election day at the polls to vote on that party's ballot, and then they're automatically registered with that party until they change their affiliation.

As the primary season winds to a close and we head towards the general election, Democrats should be optimistic.

No matter who's the nominee, the Bernie Sanders campaign has revealed an easy way for the Democratic Party to expand its base and therefore become, well, more democratic.

It's time for open primaries across the board.

Let's just hope the DNC is smart enough to realize that and make it happen.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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