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Let's Be Fair About Choosing a Candidate

By Wednesday, 24 February 2016 02:41 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It’s another election year, so there’s good news and bad.

On the upside, Americans will peacefully choose their next leader, continuing a miracle that we take for granted. The not-so-great part is that the 98 percent of people who don’t live in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada will, yet again, have virtually no say in their party’s presidential nominee.

In other words, the leader of the free world will largely be determined by Hawkeye Staters whose claims to fame are making life-size butter cows, and crying whenever their other sacred cow is fuel for criticism: ethanol subsidies.

Likewise, an equal say is bestowed upon New Hampshire, which is mind-boggling.

And then we have the state that started the Civil War, putting the finishing touches on the coronation.

So where does that leave everyone else? Voting for dogcatcher and coroner.

Why does the nation put up with such an inequitable system, will it ever change, and is there a better way? Answers: lack of political courage, probably not, and resoundingly yes.

Joking aside, all three early-voting states are wonderful, rich in history and filled with salt-of-the-earth people. But having the first and, ultimately, last word is insane. No state should hold that much power, and possessing it accomplishes three things:
  • The rest of the country grows angrier every four years.
  • That resentfulness leads to significant voter apathy because of the correct mentality that “my vote doesn’t count since the winner has already been chosen.” As a result, critical state and local races fly under people’s radar.
  • The eventual nominee leaves much to be desired.
With the exception of the Obama/Clinton race going the distance, virtually all nominees have been chosen by these states for decades. And the nation has suffered.

What does an oil driller in Alaska, a manufacturer in Pennsylvania, or a border-patrol agent in Arizona have in common with an Iowa farmer? How does a small-business owner in Oklahoma relate to a New Hampshire lobsterman’s fishery issues? And how much is a Montana rancher in tune with a South Carolina textile worker?

This flawed system results in candidates who, instead of being in touch with Americans’ varied interests, are increasingly responsive only to voters in early states. Win them, and it’s virtually over — the rest of the nation be damned. Lose them, and you’re done.

The system is in place because the establishments of both parties prefer it. To the political elites, placing heavy emphasis on just a few states is easy and makes for short work, avoiding the anathema of a drawn-out primary that ultimately would wrest control from party leaders and give it to (God forbid) the people. Since the interests of the rank-and-file are not high on party leaders’ lists, they move heaven and earth to retain the status quo.

Dare to become relevant by moving up your primary? The party unleashes the “death penalty,” which strips the “rogue” state of its convention delegates, thus wiping out its influence, as Florida Republicans learned in 2012.

With such rules, the GOP ensured that small states still get to play God, honest debate takes a back seat, and leaders pulling the strings retain their ability to choose whom they like (the anomaly of billionaire Trump notwithstanding).

To make the system fair, we should divide the nation into three equal regional groupings, and rotate each subset so that every four years, a different one votes first. That would offer enough variation so that local or regional issues would not dominate the campaigns.

Perhaps better, the groupings should be picked randomly, so that the diversity of Americans’ issues would be better reflected. With only three primary election dates on the calendar, every state would have a significant say in which nominee wins.

The downside is that nationwide campaigning would drive campaign costs up, thus increasing the need for more fundraising. But campaign costs will go up anyway, and with so many more voters having a stake, small-dollar donations via the internet may well offset the increased costs of running a larger operation.

Switching to a new method is no guarantee that better candidates will be chosen. But eliminating a system where a poor performance in an early state is a game-ender would undoubtedly increase the slate of folks willing to run. It would also encourage millions more to become engaged, as they would finally have a say that has been denied to them for so long.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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To make the system fair, we should divide the nation into three equal regional groupings, and rotate each subset so that every four years, a different one votes first.
trump, president
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 02:41 PM
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