September 3, 2007
Dysfunctional Politics (Bob Franken)
@ 12:56 pm
Isn’t it fun watching the political parties and the states thrash around over presidential primaries? Here we have the parties, particularly the Democrats insisting on maintaining a system where the first events seem mainly designed to keep big money flowing to the white people of Iowa and New Hampshire. The main argument seems to be: “This is how we’ve been doing it; let’s not change the status quo.”
But then you have the upstarts — Florida, Michigan, all the others, who have the audacity to suggest that they, along with their large, diverse populations have the right to self-determination. That’s an argument that will never work. Just ask the residents of Washington, D.C.
The parties are — let me use a technical term here — going bananas. This is heresy to them, and certainly to all those highly paid pollsters and consultants. It is a violation of natural order. Already the Democrats have come down hard. If the states don’t do what they’re told, they might not get to be players at the national convention.
Now there’s a scary threat. Particularly when we consider that maybe what we really ought to do is get rid of the conventions. They don’t really mean much any more, except for the opportunity for the fat cats to buy access with their grand galas.
And we haven’t even talked about how the parties themselves may have become obsolete. That’s for another day. Today, let’s just open our minds to the possibility of rotating regional primaries. If we’d figure out how to publicly finance campaigns that are credible, and not just ego trips, we could give the lesser-knowns a chance to play Don Quixote and maybe just realize their improbable dream. Maybe we could determine a formula for rationing funding based on standings in the polls. That would certainly be as equitable as the inevitably corrupt way we sell our souls for campaigns now.
An independent could decide to bypass the partisan primaries and go directly to the November ballot.
It would be a much more orderly, honest way to choose candidates. I must admit, however, it would be nowhere near as entertaining as what’s happening now.