The Governor Against the Oath

VC Note:  Earlier this morning, I wrote that Lt. Governor released a statement against the loyalty oath for Virginia’s March 6th 2012 Presidential Primary.  For the record, the oath states that by voting in Virginia’s Republican primary, you are pledging to vote for the party’s nominee in the November general election, regardless of which person emerges victorious and irrespective of what principles he or she happens to hold.  Shortly after posting this piece, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell offered his take on the oath, which I present, to you below along with some additional commentary:

 Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Proposed  Loyalty Oath for March GOP Presidential Primary in Commonwealth

RICHMOND– Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this morning regarding the proposed “loyalty oath” that all voters seeking to participate in the March GOP Presidential Primary in Virginia would be required to sign in order to cast a vote.

“Over the past few days I have reviewed the issue of the proposal that voters sign a loyalty oath as a requirement for participation in our upcoming GOP Presidential Primary in March. While I fully understand the reasoning that led to the establishment of this requirement, such an oath is unenforceable and I do not believe it is in the best interests of our Party, or the Commonwealth. The effect of the oath could be one of diminishing participation in the primary, at a time when our Party must be expanding its base and membership as we head into the pivotal 2012 general elections this fall. For these reasons, I urge the State Central Committee to rescind the loyalty oath requirement at its upcoming meeting on the 21st.

It is true that for political parties to remain viable they must have some means by which to control their own nomination processes. I know the loyalty oath was proposed as a possible good faith solution to this issue in this primary election, but there are other ways. I would support legislation to establish voluntary party registration in Virginia. Such a reform to our electoral system would eliminate the need for any oaths or pledges and greatly simplify the nomination process in the Commonwealth.”

VC Note: I always welcome another nail in the coffin of the hated loyalty oath.  Even though odds are pretty good that I will support the Republican nominee against President Obama, I believe the oath attempts to strip away our right to vote our conscious as well as the idea of a secret ballot.  Sure, it is unenforceable, but it creates a situation whereby otherwise honorable people will refuse to sign the oath and therefore be denied the right to vote.  After all, if it is dishonorable to break the oath, then only 100% party loyalists and dishonorable people will show up to vote.  Should either of these two groups have complete control over the primary?  I think doing so is bad for the candidates, bad for the party, bad for the state, and bad for the nation. 

Then again, I believe the process is best handled through conventions rather than primaries.  If states held conventions and caucuses in 2008 as opposed to primaries, I’m pretty sure that the Republican nominee wouldn’t have been John McCain.  Were you happy with that choice?  I know that even though I am a Republican I was not, but then again, neither were a majority of the American voting population.  So how is that hope and change working out for you?

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