Penn State Law Professor: Infiltrate GOP Through ‘Reverse Primarying’ to Defeat ‘Trumpist’ Control

People wait in line to vote in Georgia's Primary Election on June 9, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Voters in Georgia, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Dakota, and Nevada are holding primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Penn State Dickinson Law Professor Martin Skladany is calling on Democrats to adopt a national “reverse primarying” strategy by temporarily switching party affiliation and infiltrating the Republican Party in order to defeat a “Trumpist GOP” which would otherwise “continue to win elections” and “maintain power.”

Skladany’s proposal appeared in an opinion piece published in the Hill on Tuesday titled “Raid the Republican Party to Save the Party,” and opens by discouraging Democrats from awaiting an anticipated GOP self-destruction.

“Democrats’ instinct after winning the White House and Congress in 2020 might be to stand back and let the Republican Party slowly self-destruct,” Skladany writes, but warns a “Trumpist GOP would continue to win elections, maintain power over certain states, and could regain control of the Senate or House in 2022.”

Skladany calls on Democrats and independents to engage in “reverse primarying” to alter election results, claiming that “saving the Republican Party — and the rule of law” is equally their responsibility.

“Democrats and independents need to cross over and vote in Republican primary elections. Such ‘reverse primarying’ could ensure that the general election at least would be a choice between candidates who believe in the sanctity of elections and good governance,” he adds. 

Skladany explains how his proposition would eradicate “the danger of extremism” through the efforts of non-Republicans. 

“Raiding a party’s primary is typically done to scupper a rival party in the general election by voting for their more extreme candidate. I propose the opposite: increasing a moderate Republican’s chances by cutting the far right off at the knees,” he explains. 

Noting that “some Republicans who value facts are defecting from their party, rather than fighting to take it back,” Skladany calls to “hobble” those he deems “extremists and conspiracy-theorists” within the Republican Party.

“Even if Democrats could win every election — which they can’t — it is in their collective national interest to hobble far-right extremists and conspiracy-theorists in the GOP,” he writes. 

Skladany dismisses concerns the reverse could be applied to Democrats. 

“Should Democrats care if the same policy is applied to their party? No,” he writes, explaining, “Both moderate and left-leaning Democrats believe in democracy and the will of the people, even if there are sharp policy distinctions between them.” 

Furthermore, Skladany writes, “Any Republican at heart who registered as a Democrat might vote for more left-wing candidates to attempt to sink Democrats’ chances of success in the general election, yet this concern is likely not as important as the need for Democrats to ensure they don’t lose our freedoms through having despotic Republicans win elections.”

Skladany suggests that non-Republicans “solidify the moderate Republican wing in many states” by asking to vote in a GOP primary or mailing in a form to change their party affiliation and then “go right back to voting for Democrats in the general election.” 

Admitting the scheme appears “drastic,” Skladany claims many Republicans do not respect the rule of law or are fearful to speak out.

“This strategy may sound drastic,” he writes. “But the Republican Party is stuck with many politicians who apparently hold no fealty to the rule of law or some who may fear for their lives if they break with the charade they helped create.”

Skladany presents several ways for Democrats “who recognize that the danger of Trumpism remains” to proceed. 

“They can attempt to change right-wing media, or try to sway extreme Republican voters and politicians directly through labor-intensive, one-on-one modes of communication,” he writes. “Or, they can assist moderate Republicans in taking back their party.”

Skladany continues by calling on moderate Republicans who “truly want to end the widespread falsehoods and disregard for the rule of law” to “get on board.” 

Such a rush of “blue GOP voters” could lead to moderates winning Republican primaries in 2022, according to Skladany, which “could create a virtuous cycle that re-centers the right-wing news media and re-instills the protection of democracy within most of the [Republican] party.” 

Noting “serious concerns” about whether the GOP can be saved, Skladany concludes by reiterating that “non-Republicans now need to lend a vote.” 

The essay comes as the media has launched an all-out assault against Republicans, depicting them as Nazis and fascists.

An essay published in the far-left Salon on Monday claimed the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was geared around completing the transformation of the Republican party into an “overtly authoritarian — even fascist — party” while accusing Republican voters of encouraging and supporting both racism and fascism.

On Friday, the publication accused Republicans of resembling “good Germans” of the Nazi era — wishing to believe they are decent people while hiding behind “fictions of plausible deniability for the evils committed by their leader” —  and described today’s conservatism as seeking “friendly fascism” masked in an appeal to return to “traditional values.”

Earlier this week, actress Rosanna Arquette threatened to boycott Hyatt hotels for hosting CPAC, which she described as a “fascist Nazi convention,” over the weekend, while fellow actress Alyssa Milano, among many on the left, floated a wild and baseless conspiracy that CPAC organizers deliberately fashioned the main stage to resemble a Nazi symbol.

Last month, after the Senate acquitted former President Trump of inciting the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, left-wing Hollywood celebrities lashed out at the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit, referring to them as “traitors” and “fascists.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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