Home Opinion OPINION: Democrats Discuss — Primaries are important for democracy

OPINION: Democrats Discuss — Primaries are important for democracy

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Kailee Missler is a junior studying strategic communication with a specialization in political science. The following article reflects the opinion and views of the author and does not present the thoughts of the Ohio University College Democrats. 

From local elections to presidential primaries, it is important to always challenge those in power. Incumbents in elected offices can often get complacent on the goals they once campaigned on, especially after they have held that office for so long. That is why Democrats should support when people exercise their right to challenge power through primary elections.

Take the instance of Rep. Joe Crowley and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which is perhaps the most prominent example of someone with different ideas challenging an incumbent. Rep. Crowley held an office for 20 years. While the establishment of the Democratic party pushed against the younger candidate, the people of the 14th Congressional District in New York voiced their opinions on Crowley by voting him out. 

Since the midterms, Ocasio-Cortez has been a leading champion in producing new legislation. Her eagerness to create change is rarely mimicked by incumbents who cannot invoke the passion they once had when first elected.

Citizens deserve more options than one Democrat and one Republican.

It is easy for politicians to lose sight of why they ran for office in the first place after they have had access to power for an extended period of time. After years in office, they have been exposed to options such as catering to rich lobbyists and Wall Street officials who are donating to their reelection campaigns. 

A primary challenger forces them to restate their ideas and prove that they are worthy of their elected position. It also forces them to showcase the changes that they have made while in office. This can either help or hurt incumbents.

Unchecked power creates issues. It enables an environment where politicians are able to put their own personal greed before the constituents that put them in office.

If Democrats are scared of new people in the party challenging politicians who have been in office for 15 or more years, perhaps it’s time to evaluate what the establishment means and who it’s really benefiting.

Examples of this can be seen at every stage of government. For instance, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson is facing a challenger for the first time since he was elected in 2015. His challenger, an independent socialist named Damon Krane, brings new ideologies and issues to the table that the people of Athens deserve to hear. 

Mayor Patterson can use this opportunity to strengthen his support by standing by the progress he’s made as mayor or he can be forced to address issues directly if little progress has been made. Regardless of ideology, it is important for the people of Athens to have a choice.

Primaries are one of the important ways that citizens can hold power accountable. It is a way to bring to light more issues that are underrepresented, and the Democratic party should embrace that.

This is a submitted column, and please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misidentified Damon Krane as Steve Patterson’s challenger in the primary election. Krane is challenging Patterson in the general election. This article was updated to reflect that. 

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