Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Few Primary Thoughts Concerning Politics!

America’s presidential primary system is far from perfect and it's flaws are exacerbated by the influence of the flawed Electoral College that takes over after the general election. While both systems have their supporters, too much of this support it is based on partisan politics. Reform of both processes would benefit the country by helping us to choose better leaders. It is worth the effort to devise and support a system that lets the best talent and most qualified work their way to the top. The best way to determine if a system needs change is to look at its goal or purpose.

Our two party system and partisan politics tend to gravitate towards a system that eases getting the party's slated candidate elected or to blocking an opponent, I reject that goal. We must elect officials that most represent the views and desires of a majority of the people and at the same time protects those on the political fringe. I consider winner take all contest the most unfair way to allocate delegates. Another major problem is that by the time my state primary takes place it no longer matters and the choice has been made for me.

Our current systems tend to promote gridlock and acts to polarize the nation. It is geared in a way that a small active group at either the far left or the far right of the political spectrum gains far to much influence and this often leaves us forced to chose between the worst of two evils. Anything that encourages the pandering to special interest or small intense voting blocks is not in the interest of the majority of citizens. Any state primary that acts to reduce the impact of those at the center and cast aside the preferences of a large number of independent voters allows for candidates to advance that fail to represent a majority of the people.

 When a politician tells a group of voters that they "deserve" more money and more opportunities, is this a cheap trick to buy votes? We must look past the media's glowing reviews and ask, "where's the beef"? Voters must make a serious effort to become better informed. The podium in a political campaign is a bully pulpit that sets priorities and brings about needed change. The flow of ideas and debate should be encouraged. A winner takes all primary often shortens this process and can marginalize a candidate with an important message.

Winner take all primaries are quick and less divisive to their party but the notion that we should choose fast and unite behind a flawed or lesser candidate because he or she is better known or financed makes no sense. Indeed we need to reform the whole process, I live in Indiana, we often have no voice at all in choosing a candidate. The field of Presidential candidates has already narrowed dramatically and before we are quizzed. My favorite candidate Ron Paul has had less impact because of this closed process. Well designed caucuses or run off style elections would offer voters a far better choice.

Another major flaw with our current system is that  the announcement of any "third party candidate" can quickly skew the results, these candidates with a message become "a spoiler" that can deny the best choice any hope, this is magnified by the stupidity of our Electoral College. Over recent years, we have witnessed countries torn apart by burning, killing and tribal mayhem because the leaders in power stole the election, it should be pointed out that the winner-takes-all attitude is partly responsible for this problem. When the people's voice is ignored and both sides see the stakes too high to admit defeat the system will lose broad support.

It is time to put each vote on equal footing. Today with instant communication and no area of the United States more than a few hours away by jet It is time to eliminate the electoral college which redistributes attention during Presidential campaigns to key “swing states”and skews their overall importance. This taints an already lengthy and expensive process. The cost of maintaining this antiquated dinosaur runs a billion dollars a year but no longer yields any real benefit and is in many ways harmful. With 48 out of 50 states using a winner take all structure the election can teeter on a few hundred votes in states such as Ohio or Florida.

Open primaries that allow the voters to move from party to party or promote a “run off” type process where first as well as second preferences are considered tend to expand and open the political debate. Giving the voter a throwaway vote acts as a poll that helps articulate how they feel about the issues. We must trust the people to make the correct choice and resist ideas that hogtie the people in an effort to protect them from themselves. The outcome of our elections will not improve without reform as to how we arrive at our final choice. A system that gets the candidates supported by the most Americans into the general election should be a major priority, it is unfortunate this is such a very low priority.

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