Thursday, August 23, 2007

Time for a National Primary

If all these states keep moving up their primaries, we’ll be picking the candidates before this Halloween. It’s gotten ridiculous. But it makes sense.

Although I live in the second most populous state in the nation, I’ve never once had my primary vote matter. By the time Texas holds its primary, the parties have already locked in their candidates. This is true for citizens in all but a handful of states. How is that remotely democratic?

What we need is a national primary just like we have national elections. Yes, yes, yes, I know a national primary would make it extremely difficult for marginal candidates to get their message out to the people. It’s much more affordable for poorly funded candidates to throw all their money into Iowa and New Hampshire and hope to build momentum.

That’s a nice theory but I tend to think marginal candidates have empty coffers because either 1) they are bad candidates or 2) they get no media coverage because most of us watch the primaries from the sideline, unmotivated to choose a candidate because our voices will never be heard anyways. Marginal candidates are kept marginal more by the choice of the media than by the lack of funds.

If all of us knew our primary votes actually mattered, wouldn’t a much larger percentage of us pay closer attention to the candidates? In the national polls, would so many people blithely answer the name with greatest recognition or would more people actually consider their choice? And wouldn’t candidates benefit from their supporters staying in their own home states and building organizations rather than descending upon Iowa?

A national primary, particularly one that includes a runoff, would not dilute the process as many claim. It would energize it. And it would stop this crazy rush to be the first state to cast a vote. The process would still be far from perfect but it would be a heck of a lot better than the antiquated system in place now.

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Anonymous Hamilton said...

I agree with you. The entire democratic system fails when people don't vote in local elections and primary elections. If a national primary encouraged a larger turnout, then so be it.

How can we hold our government responsible if we don't wield our power to vote at every opportunity?

10:08 PM  

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