Tuesday May 22, 2007

What's up with the primary?

Yesterday, Florida moved its primary to January 29th, which means it’s preceded only the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. It puts us ahead of Super Tuesday, when most of the states hold their primaries.

This sort of leapfrogging is bad for the system (humor me a second), because there’s no logical place for it to end — nobody wants to be at the irrelevant end of the process, and the greater the time between the primaries and the general elections, the more wasteful and boring the whole process gets. And sure enough, the national Democrat and Republican parties wagged a finger at Florida about doing this, and both have threatened to take away 50% of our delegates. We’ll see if they follow through.

The standard arguments for the move is that Florida is one of the most important swing states in the country, and there’s no reason for us to have near-irrelevant primaries at the end of the process. So why not just move our date to Super Tuesday with the parties’ blessing? Well for one thing, South Carolina is on January 29th. Why should they get a first say about the candidates?

But for that matter, why should Iowa and New Hampshire? This is the problem with United States presidential primaries — the whole system stinks. I’m sure folks are real nice in Iowa and New Hampshire. But let’s face it — they’re hicks! Nothing wrong with that, but why in God’s name should this ultra-homogeneous (~97% white, overwhelmingly farmers, mostly Christian) group of people play the crucial role in our election process year after year after year? The only possible defense is a feeble appeal to tradition. Please. This is no way to run a country.

So Florida’s move is selfish, unreasonable, and destabilizing. But it’s destabilizing in a good way. We’re risking our delegates to bring down this idiotic system. When Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina move their primaries to February 5th, we’ll do the same. That’ll never happen, you say? Well, they won’t do it voluntarily, sure. But If this keeps up the national parties will make them move. Having all the primaries on one day is far from a perfect system (if you want to get wild and crazy with it maybe consider the random primary proposal), but at least it makes sense.

Oh by the way, the bill that brings this change also mandates new paper-trailed voting machines. No time to think this through, though, we’re going to find some “good enough” machines that print a little receipt and it’s going to be disaster city all over again. I predict that whatever new machines they get will have immediately-obvious flaws, we’ll be replacing them again in a year or two, and I’ll be looking for someone else to sock.

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  1. Steve    Tue May 22, 09:37 AM #  

    There you go again, genuflecting to Carl Hiaasen".

  2. alesh    Tue May 22, 10:13 AM #  

    for the record, I’ve agreed and disagreed with Hiaasen for awhile. Normally I link to his stuff when it has some bearing on what I’m talking about. In this case it really doesn’t — he’s proposing something absurd to amuse himself, whereas I’m talking about reality.

  3. notever    Tue May 22, 12:39 PM #  

    alesh or anyone who can shed some light on this: what does losing delegates mean exactly for florida, or any other state?

  4. Enmanuel    Tue May 22, 01:43 PM #  

    notever: it means we (florida as a state) lose the role of being a swing state.

    moving the primaries up doesn’t seem a bad idea. I mean, think about it; right now everybody and their mother is a candidate. having so many prospects leaves the general population in a limboesque state regarding who will possibly be elected president. I say narrow it down to two, one for each party, by the end of the nba finals. then we just let them run and develop a thoroughbred campaign.

    I don’t know a thing about politics but i do know I’m tired of seeing the republican candidates on TV! The less the better.

  5. b.a.c.    Tue May 22, 04:22 PM #  

    Who cares if we send less delegates to the National Convention. There will be less Floridians waving around dimpled chad voting cards. We still have importance with our Electoral Votes and come November of next year that’s what matters.

  6. kingofrance    Tue May 22, 08:37 PM #  

    “We’re risking our delegates to bring down this idiotic system.”

    dude, this is like saying you’re risking your job to bring down the tyranny of Dockers in the workplace. Yeah, it’s stupid and there needs to be a change, but this isn’t the way to do it.

    The DNC adopted rules that have some pretty severe penalties for states that move their primaries ahead of Feb. And it’s not just the states, the new rules also penalize the candidates that campaign in the new pre-Feb. states. It’s possible that Florida could be like that really hot girl with the insane older brother; everyone wants to, but nobody is willing to risk it. Hmm, I think I just used up my bad analogies for the month.

  7. Steve    Wed May 23, 09:24 AM #  

    Florida’s move is a really dumb response to a truly broken system. But the bright side is, the less influence wielded by Floridians, the better the outcome for the nation as a whole.

  8. Biscayne Bystander    Wed May 23, 07:24 PM #  

    Voting has become a fraud propetuated by both parties. The ability to have our ballots counted correctly precludes which candidate we vote for.