Saturday, September 1, 2007

Primary Politics

Alex and I were talking earlier this week about the growing problems surrounding the 2008 presidential primary and concluded that the system as it currently stands is flawed. For decades, a handful of states have held the first primaries and gained the lion's share of attention from the candidates. Now some states are saying, "Wait, why can't we be first and get some of that attention" and well they've begun a game of leap frog that may very well end up with our 2008 presidential primary becoming a 2007 presidential primary.

So we started thinking, how could this system to be better designed to meet the needs of America as a whole and not a couple of states that just because of a historic precedence get to go first. Obviously the first thing we thought of was well why not Washington State, it's our home and an important part of the country. We should get more attention of the candidates beyond them just stopping by to smile for checks. Unfortunately this is no more helpful than the attitude of Florida or Michigan or the plethora of other states currently upsetting the system.

Next we considered, why even have a staggered primary system at all? Certainly if we had all states vote at once then the candidates would have to try to address the needs of the nation as a whole. However, this turns the presidential primary into even more of a giant money game. Knocking on doors across the country would be ineffective and traveling to county fairs to meet voters and give a speech would hardly get a candidate traction on national scale. There would be no effective way for candidates to reach out to the millions of voters across the country except through a national television advertising campaign. Not only is this hardly the most comprehensive form of political debate, it is also prohibitively expensive to the point that many second tier candidates would be unable to compete.

So, at last, we came up with an idea that might work. Run the primary system in a similar manner to the NBA Draft. Have the order of the states participation in the presidential primary set in the reverse order to their economic growth over the past 4 years. So the worst performing states would be the focus of candidates and the national press ensuring that their problems are being properly addressed. Selecting a couple of front runner states would make it more likely that candidates would be able utilize more meager means of campaigning to gain traction in the polls. Finally, since the system would (hopefully) result in improved economic growth and new early primary battlegrounds each election cycle, it would keep the states from claiming that they are being unfairly excluded from the decision making process. Heck, it’s almost a complement to be made to go last.

Based on a quick Google search our three front runners this year would be Louisiana, Michigan and Alaska. Louisiana makes sense with the fallout of Katrina and based on some of the stories I have heard regarding the repair (or lack there of) of New Orleans, they could sure use some attention. I think this system would be fair and probably beneficial to the country as a whole. Helping our poorest performing states will help to bat down income inequity and probably result in improved economic growth over all.

What do you think?

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