Time for just one national primary?

Democratic and Republican wannabes for President will most likely emerge from Super Tuesday with no clear consensus on who will be their party’s nominee for the next temporary resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

That’s not the way any of them wanted it to work. Each pretender to the throne wanted to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5. Mathematically, none of them will.

The primary season will drone on: Republican John McCain could clinch his party’s nomination this month but – barring a breakaway victory – the battle between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could drag on right up to their party’s convention.

Like most of the hype and hoopla that surrounds the Presidential nomination process, the prolonged primary season is just another example of excess. Why don’t we simplify the process by having just one national primary on one Tuesday and get the whole thing over with?

The drawn-out primary process is a political dinosaur. Some states pick delegates not by election but by an arcane caucus system that is neither an exercise in democracy or representative of the wishes of a majority. Other primaries are boring yawns where a slight percentage of registered voters select the delegates who then go to conventions to party, get drunk, get laid and – if they have time – select their party’s nominee for President.

Wouldn’t it be more representative to just schedule the first Tuesday in, say, April for all states to hold primaries and vote for the candidate of their choice?

Campaigning for the primaries could be limited to 60 days before the national primaries. After the primary, campaigning could be suspended and not start again until after Labor Day, giving the candidates 60 days to make their case to the voters before the November general election.

Then we could scrap the yearlong process heading up to the Iowa caucus, scrap the expensive and wasteful conventions that serve no useful purpose, and give both candidates and voters a much-needed rest.

Simple? Yes. Too simple? Perhaps to those who feel elections must extend over too-long periods of time, cost too much money and confuse voters with too much hype and hysteria.

America’s political system, like the government is serves, is out of control. One need only look at the kinds of candidates the system produces and the so-called leaders we finally “elect” to realize that what we have is broken and doesn’t work.

Maybe it’s time to pull out a clean sheet of paper and start over.


  1. 33rdSt

    To quote that famous American, Deep Throat, follow the money. What is negative about the way we nominate and elect our President bears most directly to the dominance of network (including the cable networks) television in the dissemination of information about the campaign. Candidates thus feel compelled to raise increasingly obscene amounts of money to get themselves on TV (both through ads and through various manipulations to vie for unpaid coverage).

    The ugly nature of the campaigns does not derive from this. Look back to the first campaigns, and most especially those in which the hero of democracy, Thomas Jefferson, was involved. Vile, phoney, horrific. Swift boating centuries before the vessel had been conceived. Negative campaiging has been with us throughout our history.

    But now the negative gets air time on the national broadcasts and which negative gets how much air time is decided not by the populace which previously decided which pamphlet to pick up and read but by a programming magnate in New York who decides which line will best fill his network’s coffers with advertising dollars sponsoring that networks programming.

    Thus, coverage is slanted in ways the print media are hard pressed to duplicate (a totally biased newspaper is much easier to spot; those letters on the page just don’t have as much objectivity hiding charisma as Bill O’Reilly or even Katie Couric).

    Dan Rather was fired because he dared to challenge the CBS slant on the election by bringing W’s National Guard record into sharp focus. Yes, the physical memo was a fake, but the secretary who typed the real one confirmed that everything that was in the fake was also in the magically missing original. Only the format was different. But that wasn’t the CBS message so Dan had to go.

    So let’s get the FCC to ban political coverage on the commercial stations and move it all to public access stations, where programming decisions are made by the local community. Let Iowans see what Iowans think is important to them. And get rid of the so-called public interest group advertising as well as the party and candidate advertising.

    Discourse will become focused to the group that is doing the voting and we will be seeing it mostly when our state is in line to vote. Less tedious, less costly, and more substantive.

    And if you’re really worried about the Jimmy Carter problem (promise one thing in Iowa and something totally different in NH), CSPAN can carry the equivalent of the stock market ticker so the junkies can watch it all but it will be the local footage, not repackaged pablum for the national market.

  2. Doug Thompson

    All right you two. Put a cork in the personal attacks. Let’s discuss issues and leave the insults to other sites.

  3. Sandra Price

    Flapsaddle, I find that most politically interested people are often game players, liars with hidden agendas that I am not familiar with. I went on line in the mid 90s and ran into some of the worst liars and manipulators possible.

    I had been involved in the limited government since the 60s and thought all Republicans shared the agenda. I could not have been more wrong. It was here at CHB that I ran into the most fierce group of Evangelicals that I figured had stayed safely in the southern states and did not vote. I had to learn politics all over again.

    I also ran into you who proved to be one of the rudest and most obnoxious person and yet claimed to be a fiscal conservative. You claim to be a lot things.

    Because of you and your forum, I did start paying close attention to the candidates realizing they did not mean what they said. I am a simple person and found myself with a bunch of people I could not trust. Because of you I have learned to question the intentions and honesty of anyone running for office or posting on the internet.

    If people were more up front and honest then I would never need more than a trip to their website. The internet is overflowing with game players and liars. No one is forcing you to watch a single campaign ad but the longer I read sites like yours I absolutely need to know more about the candidates. You woke me up to how naive I am and how I need to look into any person who is running for office.

    You are baiting me again. You were banned from here at one time due to your insults, changing your name may have worked for you, but I can spot an angry man when you show up again and again.

    Keep going, you are beginning to amuse me. What else shall we argue about? I guess it is up to Doug to post something and my reply that will set you off.

  4. Flapsaddle

    I am indicating only that I believe an intelligent person can dispense with the vast amount of fluff spewing from the candidates over many months. If you feel that you need it to clarify your position, then that is a significant difference between us.

    I do not presume to speak for anyone other than myself – though I know of quite anumber who agree with me, and I am also aware that there are quite a number, like you, who do not feel comfortable without that high level of input.

    Perhaps it is simply the difference between us in matters of intellectual functions. Perhaps I and those who might agree with me are simply processing the data in a manner more efficient to us.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  5. Sandra Price

    Flapsaddle is indicating that I cannot locate a candidate without weeks of interest. He is wrong and he knows it. My political agenda is very clear and has been unchanged since Dewey vs Truman. I need the input in order to fully understand exactly what the politician is selling.

    Obviously I can see when a candidate is running on American values and not Christian values. Some candidates are obvious like Alan Keyes and some are just plain liars like G.W. Bush. I figured Flapsaddle as a limited government with all the natural rights being secured. I misjudged him and he has no agenda other than slamming mine. I will ignore him.

    The American voters need as much input as possible because most of them have spent too much time in front of the television. When they bother to watch the SOTU speech they want an actor, not a politician. A declaration of war is nothing to them as there has been little since WW1 when we have had any peace. Our candidates cannot discuss foreign policy as they haven’t bothered to learn our laws in the Constitution that sets boundaries. The voters cannot even spell sovereignty let alone define it.

    I know of few sites where a Rant can be written, read and then debated. We at CHB have a unique place on the ‘net. This is new to Flapsaddle who is more accustomed to one liners. He will be able to follow how we do things here when he gets the anger out of his system.

    Being an independent I would rather keep my affiliation without having to reregister when I find a good candidate in the GOP or Democratic side during these primaries.

    I am not offended by paid political ads as it is sometimes good to know who is financing a candidate. It is a form of free speech. We know the GOP is financed by Lobbyists and the Dems are financied by labor unions and Latinos…what’s the big deal? If we can ever get the religious right out of our legislation, and we declare all Americans (women, gays and others) equal. We won’t have to concentrate on individual rights as they will cover everyone.

    How many divisions of Americans must we waste time discussing? Are we white women, black men, asian gays? You get the point. We should be Amerians and stop this division that has been the backbone of the Republicans.

    Throw the bastards out! Breed better voters with knowledge of how the nation runs.

  6. Flapsaddle

    They need to pay more attention rather than to take more time. Any reasonably intelligent person should, in the course of an election cycle, be able to ascertain the basic positions of the candidates without being spoon-fed the pabulum of the so-called “debates” over a period of many weeks or – Heaven forbid! – months and months and months.

    A person requiring that much political coaching probably has very little notion of what s/he really believes in to begin with and will, like the well-rounded political bowling-ball that s/he is, roll off in whatever direction s/he is nudged. Most likely, that person will tend toward the position of the last talking head that s/he has seen on the boob-tube.

    No, I much prefer to have a shorter silly season if for no other reason than my own sanity. If a person has that much difficulty figuring out where s/he stands with respect to the philosophy of the candidate(s), then I would much rather that they vote randomly – based on hair/eye color, number of letters in the name, amount of nasal hair showing, etc. – and cancel out each other, thus allowing those who have been paying attention to actually influence the day.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  7. Sandra Price

    Labor Day is the start of Colleges gathering their new students. It is a hellish time for students and parents. I would rather have a day (or a week) at a time when people are home. If we want our younger voters to concentrate on the issues it might be better to schedule the primaries when people are less stressed out. I just got home from voting and there were a lot of people in line; more than I can remember in any Primary.

  8. pollchecker

    I repeat, the system was initially set up this way at a time when TV and airplanes weren’t standard practices. Candidates needed time to reach the people.

    I enjoy the debates. And I think it is important to allow those that would like to personally meet and hear the candidates speak be allowed to do so.

    That is why I proposed having regional primaries. That way say the New England States (as an example) can have their state primaries on one day. The Western Pacific region could have thier primary on one day. They would just be spread out 3-4 weeks apart.

    This would keep people in another region from having to put up with endless campaigning.

    The proportional system works for me even though the pundits and the party powers would prefer a quick decision as it saves time and money.

    However, the proportional delegate system is the only way that the entire electorate has a chance to vote.

    And if you eliminate the paid political poison advertising on TV, the entire process would be less tiresome to those who would prefer to ignore it all.

  9. Flapsaddle

    Labor Day weekend works for me.

    It would put the primaries no more than 7-8 weeks before election day.

    It would allow three full days of voting, with the parties paying absolutely all of the costs.

    It would put extensive pressure on the parties to get their convention up and running as soon as possible after the primary.

    It would limit the silly season to about two months instead of the almost eighteen months we now endure.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  10. Sandra Price

    Pollchecker, I love the spread out debates. If we all had the same deadline for our primary choices, our voters could not be separated by their various state’s agendas. We have seen the difference in cultures between Iowa and California and putting the states on the same date would eliminate their differences. Many of us on forums like CHB know the difference between the religious states and those that are more open to diversity. Having sat through the debates where all points of view have been shown cleared up my desire to not support the social conservatives. It was clear that I had to vote for Ron Paul in the Primary and then possibly vote for the Democrat in November. Watching those Conservatives in the early debates made me realize how awful the GOP had become. It will take 20 years to wash Bush out of our politics. I vote this morning and am happy I discovered the agenda of the GOP before I backed any of them. My friends in California are feeling the same pressure.

    America is in deep trouble and nobody should take a chance with the wrong candidate. I want the war over! Ron Paul does too! He is the only Republican I would vote for. If we share the same primary date, nobody would care about any states except the big ones.

  11. pollchecker

    “I said there should be one day when all states hold their primaries”

    I got it Doug. And I still don’t like that idea for the same reasons as yesterday…. it would increase even MORE the importance of television in the campaigns and forever lock out the little guys from ever running for office again.

  12. Doug Thompson

    I appreciate the comments but I think some here missed the point. I did not say we needed a national primary where all votes were lumped together. I said there should be one day when all states hold their primaries. States would still set the rules for how winners and losers are determined. The idea was to shorten the election season and put an end to the drawn-out hysteria that favors those with the most fatcat donors and/or deepest pockets.

  13. Sandra Price

    You are right about Arizona, Warren. I will be very happy when the GOP returns to the agenda and gets off this religious kick that has destroyed our individual freedoms. I noticed it has taken much out of the LP here too. I attended the Tucson Conference in 2004 and did not like the tone. There is nothing left for our limited government agenda and that is the only source of freedom that we have.

  14. Sandra Price

    Hang in there SEAL. Just knowing you’re reading is good enough. But we need you full time ASAP. We love you….

  15. Warren

    Doug, sorry but I must disagree. Not that I disagree with your sentiment about the process taking too long and being a theater of overkill. But there is another side of this.

    There are some of us who hold the opinion that how a party selects its candidates is up to the party’s members. We already have volumes of state laws, varying by state, on when primary elections will occur, where they will occur, who can vote, how the votes will be taken, how they will be counted, on and on. When is enough enough?

    A political party is made up of its members. How those members select their candidate is up to them, with broad leeway. For example, how the Republicans choose their candidate is not up to the Democrats, or the Independents, or the Libertarians. It’s up to the Republicans.

    Here in Arizona we Libertarians had to take the matter to court, to kill a state law that allowed independents to determine the Libertarian candidate. There are twenty times more registered independents than there are Libertarians, so independents were effectively determining the Libertarians’ choice of candidate. We won. We can now select our own candidates.

    There is already way too much government interference with how parties choose their candidates. Let’s not make more. That would be disastrous for anyone but Republicans and Democrats, and maybe even for one them if the other party got the legislative upper hand.

  16. jarrodlombardo

    Much better would be to not have primaries at all and have an approval vote or Borda count election on election day in November; either of which are far more like democracy than the current primaries and plurality vote system.

  17. Flapsaddle

    I’ve agreed with your thesis, and I’ve suggested a date and why I want it at that particular time. Would you please indicate when you might prefer to have the Primary Day?

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  18. Flapsaddle

    I can live with that! But no earlier!

    Yes, appropriate to a day of fireworks and the celebration of a revolution.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  19. LurkingFromTheLeft

    How about three or four months prior to ‘THE NATIONAL ELECTION DAY’ –

    …quick math says around FOURTH OF JULY –

    …how much more befitting would that be!?!

    …cast your vote and see some fireworks!