GOP for Bernie Sanders

Upstate Republicans are urging GOP voters to cast a Democratic presidential primary ballot for Sen. Bernie Sanders, so they can actually run against a socialist in November. President Nixon would be proud. File/John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post and Courier

So this is perfectly normal: People who aren’t Democrats plan to vote for a guy who isn’t a Democrat in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

Guess somebody saw how stupid Iowa looked this week and said, “Hold my beer.”

The plan from some Upstate GOP leaders is to throw the state to Bernie Sanders, the person they think is least likely to beat President Trump in November.

Of course all that does is expose the lunacy of this election — both the insecurities of Trump sycophants and the ignorance of Democrats for allowing a guy who isn’t a member of their party to run on their ticket.

It is officially open primary season.

Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson county GOP officials told The Post and Courier’s Jamie Lovegrove they will openly try to subvert the will of voters by crashing the state’s Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary. Because, well, they don’t have anything else to do that day.

Upstate GOP leaders plotting to impact SC Democratic primary by boosting Bernie Sanders

See, these are the people who argue the president is so popular he will be reelected in a landslide but canceled their own presidential primary. Not because there wasn’t any competition or real doubt about the eventual outcome, but to protect someone’s fragile ego.

If they are so sure of inevitable victory, why rig the game or try to put their finger on the scale? Which is what they do in banana republics and dictatorships, comrade.

But these GOP leaders contend their point here — besides the obvious naked, dirty politics — is to prompt Democrats to support “closed primaries,” which is something some party operatives have long wanted in this state. That basically means no one can vote in either party’s nominating process unless they are sworn members of said party.

And that is a terrible idea.

After Iowa debacle, SC election officials assure 2020 primary on track: 'We've got this'

Fact is, there are a lot of people in South Carolina — and the rest of the country — who aren’t beholden to one political party, who aren’t blind sheep, who don’t believe their party’s candidates are infallible. These people actually think for themselves and prefer to make their own choices.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

We need more folks like that, not fewer. Because the alternative is a cult.

If some Republicans want closed primaries, perhaps it shouldn’t gerrymander legislative and congressional districts to the point that they aren’t remotely competitive in general elections. Oftentimes, Democrats vote in Republican contests because they have no choices in their own primary. And it’s the only way to have a say in who’s running this state.

Frankly, Republicans should thank Democrats and independents for saving the party from itself. Because some of these folks — and that means the people who’ve tried to dump Lindsey Graham since 2008 — drift perilously close to giving away safe seats by nominating utterly unelectable candidates.

Cough, Katie Arrington, cough.

As for the Democrats, well, they brought this on themselves. For two consecutive elections, the national party has allowed an avowed socialist to run in their presidential primary — a man who won’t even call himself a Democrat. Seems like that alone should disqualify him from taking advantage of any sane party’s apparatus and nominating process.

Or the Democratic Party, for that matter.

But some progressives and liberals have allowed their disdain for the rightward lurch of the Republican Party to push them further to the left, all the way to the edge of socialism. Which is exactly the buzzword the GOP wants to hammer into people’s heads during the fall election.

Bernie would hand them the opportunity on a silver platter. Heck, he’d even help.

After Iowa debacle, SC election officials assure 2020 primary on track: 'We've got this'

To its credit, the South Carolina Republican Party has disavowed this stunt. Executive Director Hope Walker said the GOP doesn’t like Dems meddling in its primary, and doesn’t want to encourage its own voters to be, well, hypocrites. Good for her.

Fact is, these Republicans should take a lesson from the Dems. When voting in the other party’s primary, cast your ballot for the least objectionable candidate.

Because who knows, they might actually win.

Reach Brian Hicks at