Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's the Matter with Iowa/New Hampshire

While I may still be a defender of the Electoral College system (more on that later), I am pretty pissed off over the primary system. The current system, or so I've been told, was introduced by the Democrats by Senator Loser McGovern following the 'disaster' of 1968 - when the Democratic nominee was not the winner of the primaries. Hubert Horatio Humbert Hubert Humphrey was the choice of the party bosses and not the rank-and-file Democrats. So in 1972 the rank-and-file got to choose their champion - and who woulda guessed it was Loser McGovern - and we've gotten horrible populist liberals for pretty much every cycle (except for the glorious anomaly of 1992).

Note, HHHH Humphrey could have won in 1968 if it weren't for Wallace. So why did we need to improve our system?

And the Wiki confirms the McGovern idiocy:
McGovern had led a commission to redesign the Democratic nomination system after the messy and confused nomination struggle and convention of 1968. The fundamental principle of the McGovern Commission—that the Democratic primaries should determine the winner of the Democratic nomination—lasted throughout every subsequent nomination contest.
The current season's primary weirdness (with many states jockeying to be 'first' or at least much earlier) seems to be tied all the way back to this McGovern Disaster.

As it stands, we have two states which disproportionately determine the candidates: Iowa and New Hampshire. I can't find statistics yet to prove this, but it's pretty common knowledge that the first primaries create a snowball affect, such that if you win Iowa and New Hampshire (and to a lesser extent South Carolina, the #3), then you got yourself the nomination. This, in recent history, is how we got reamed with John Freakin' Kerry as the nominee in 2004. [Barfing sounds]

It's bad enough that two states dominate the fate of our nation. And they're not bad, considering that both are "purple" states and represent two important regions (Midwest, Northeast). The problem is that they are freaky elections.

Iowa is not even a primary, it's a caucus. And it's crazy. Read this good Washington Post piece to get an idea of how crazy it is. Basically instead of a vote, the Iowaians have to go to a meeting - which lasts for hours - and argue out loud about the candidates and then - again after a bunch of hours - 'vote with their feet.' How dandy.

This 'caucus' naturally is better for the candidates that appeal to people who have WAY TOO MUCH FREAKING TIME ON THEIR HANDS. The counts out the young people, parents with young kids, parents in general, the employed. And yet this freaky state gave us Kerry - and the whole devastating loss of 2004.

New Hampshire is a straight out, good ol' meat and potatoes vote-in-a-booth primary. Except, get ready for more dandy-ness, it is not a "closed primary" - which means that independents can vote in the Democratic primary. On one side, I like that because independents are usually more moderate. On the other side, why are non-Democrats choosing my freakin' nominee.

The primary system is quite broken. My suggestion is to have a rotating lottery of primary states - the order set by the RNC & DNC together - and that way each region can get their turn to mess us all up.

Either choose a few states to go first or be nice to the candidates and split the U.S. into 8-10 regions, and pair them into opposite types (e.g. Southwest and California or New England and Texas) and choose randomly from the pairs.

{2009 Update: Many pics from this guy's website - he has a lot about the primaries through history. And it's either in Spanish or whatever the Basque speak.}

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