In the UK, if you lend your support to someone in a different party, you're out on your backside. This happened to Ken Livingstone in 2000, because he ran as an independent candidate for Mayor of London.

In 2004 Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat, told people to vote for George Bush. Lyndon LaRouche, a rightwing conspiracist and all around rum character managed to contest the Democratic primaries (some kind person could probably think of some Republican examples).

I thought of an older example. John Tyler succeeded to the presidency after Harrison died. Tyler was a whig, and after a few months the whigs kicked him out.

Did they use a rule to do this? Does a similar rule exist in modern parties?

Are there any circumstances where someone has the authority to say 'you're not a Democrat/Republican any more'?

  • 2
  • You should also try to specify your question a bit. How do you define "being a democrat/republican"? I don't think that the US has traditional party membership (see also here).
    – tim
    Mar 6, 2017 at 13:22
  • Being allowed to call yourself 'Democrat' or 'Republican' on the general election ballot, or standing in their nominating contests.
    – Ne Mo
    Mar 6, 2017 at 13:31
  • I think there was already a question that detailed ballots. You can get on a ballot without party support, by simply getting enough signatures, iirc.
    – user4012
    Mar 6, 2017 at 16:47
  • I addressed the presidential race since the examples you gave were about it, are you interested in other races as well?
    – JonK
    Mar 7, 2017 at 4:40

1 Answer 1


Probably, because state laws regulating party primaries/caucuses probably violate the first amendment.

US political parties are not defined in the constitution and have the same rights as any other organization. Because of this they have first amendment rights including freedom of association.

In Cousins v. Wigoda the Supreme Court stated:

The States themselves have no constitutionally mandated role in the great task of the selection of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. If the qualifications and eligibility of delegates to National Political Party Conventions were left to state law “each of the fifty states could establish the qualifications of its delegates to the various party conventions without regard to party policy, an obviously intolerable result.” Such a regime could seriously undercut or indeed destroy the effectiveness of the National Party Convention as a concerted enterprise engaged in the vital process of choosing Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates— a process which usually involves coalitions cutting across state lines.

While some state laws may 'legally' bind delegates to its voters' choice it probably wouldn't hold up in the Supreme Court. Political parties could ignore these laws and choose whoever they want however they want.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .