Monday, January 9, 2012

Is the Primary Process Broken?

The chattering from the mainstream media is almost non-stop - hyping and hyperventilating over the Republican Presidential Primary process.  After 15 or so debates, including 2 within 12 hours of each other, we're now getting hourly countdown's until New Hampshire's first towns open their voting for the Republican Presidential Primary.

As all of this goes on, it's becoming more and more apparent that the primary system is utterly broken.  This is only the 2nd real vote towards the Republican Presidential Primary - and already fatigue is a major factor.  Not so much with the candidates some of whom have been running for a couple of years, but of the average voter -with the media and the hype.  We can also probably add to this voter fatigue from the robo-calls, the fund raising pitches, and the ever growing need for campaign cash to fund campaigns that seem to start earlier every election cycle.

I am convinced that the primary process, specifically the Republican primary process is fundamentally broken. 

There are a number of reasons why the process is broken and some of these are not entirely the fault of the Republican Party - but of failures within our entire voting and campaign system.

I find it ludicrous that in the effort for Republicans to determine via primary votes (which links State delegates to specific candidates to vote for those candidates at the National Convention) who will represent the Republican Party as their Presidential candidate, registered democrats and independents can vote in 'open' primaries.

I find it absurd that some primaries and caucuses allow voters to register as a Republican to participate o the same day as the vote - while being unable to really verify the legitimacy or legality of that person to cast a vote - and then the next day that person can move to another affiliation.  This goes right along with the efforts to break the legitimacy of the voting process by easing registration or not needing identification to cast a ballot.

Despite all of the hype, the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary will only assign 40 delegates to candidates - out of the 1,144 needed to gain the Republican nomination.

It's mind boggling that across so many of the 14, 15, 16 debates we've had so far - that the majority of them have been moderated by elements of the mainstream media who hold the Republican Party, the Tea Party, their candidates, and their supporters with palatable contempt - and see nothing wrong with using their bias and position to promote their ideological agenda.

If the electoral process in this country is to become viable and worthwhile, changes have to be made.  Some of these are needed on a national basis - others are specific to the Republican Party.

Voter ID and far more stringent registration verification and processes have to be implemented.  Despite the whinging from the left that voter fraud isn't a real issue - it is.  Major races have been decided on the basis of voter fraud - Washington's Governor's race and Minnesota's Senatorial race are two of the more recent.  Other votes are tainted because of people registering and voting illegally - ranging from those with 2 homes in different states voting in each state, to those illegally registering to vote in contentious elections, to those who vote who aren't citizens because political advocacy groups don't care about the law.  All of this has to stop otherwise we're nothing more than a banana republic / a Putin's Russia.

We've made same day registration and voting acceptable because we're told it's unfair to hold people accountable to do their registration in advance.  Bull.  People have to be held accountable and responsible - and if they can't / won't follow the law and do so in advance - then they don't get the privilege to vote.  We don't make them own property - just be a citizen of the US and register in advance declaring a party affiliation or as an independent if they don't want an affiliation.

If you've declared an affiliation - then when it comes to the primary, you can only vote for that party's primary.  No more open primaries.  Democrats pick their nominees, Republicans pick theirs, and Independents can pick theirs - or wait until the general election.  You also own that affiliation for 2 years - you can't change daily or as convenient.  Decisions have ramifications.

For the Republicans - no more open primaries.  Also, none of the shenanigans we've seen this year with States fighting to be first.  Keep the delegates / number of delegates - but the fundamental primary process has to change.

The primary season has to be restructured.  Rather than stretching out the primary season from early January to late June, the GOP needs to have 3 primary dates - and all of the primaries take place on those dates.  The primaries will be regional....all of the East Coast states hold their primaries on the same day.  About 6 weeks later, the Central states hold their primaries on the same day.  Around 6 weeks after that, the West Coast states hold their primaries.

For example, on the 3rd Tuesday of January, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Mass, Connecticut, NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio hold their primaries.

Then on the 3rd Tuesday of  March, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas hold their primaries.

Finally, on the 1st Tuesday of May, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Alaska would hold their primaries.

Other districts could fit in - Puerto Rico with the East Coast, Guam with the West as they fit geographically. 

As for debates - absolutely.  But let's not have any misconceptions that if we let a liberal media outlet moderate a debate - they will not be working to inform the public, but to forward their agenda.  We need to stop this.  I would like to see more Lincoln Douglas debates as opposed to a former Clintonista spend half a debate addressing contraception because it's a 'gotcha social issue' as opposed to addressing the economic problems, or the 'do-nothing' Congress, or the gutting of the defense budget. 

Put the media back in its place until it stops being so biased.  Ignore the elements that are biased.  Don't talk to them, don't empower them, and don't let them moderate a debate until they become accountable and responsible.

We don't need more than 1 debate per week and none more than 8 weeks in front of any primary.

These aren't difficult rules - and they shouldn't be all that challenging to implement.  They don't touch campaign finance or the other areas where our system is broken - but to start to fix it, you start at the basics and move forward.

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