Friday, April 11, 2008

Unique primaries have yielded bad ideas

The Floyd County Times is published is Prestonsburg, Ky.


This year is shaping up to be truly unique and exciting for American politics. Unfortunately, that is causing some people to espouse some dangerous ideas.

- BAD IDEA No. 1: Do away with the Electoral College.

At times it becomes difficult to defend our current system of choosing a president, especially after 2000, when George W. Bush won the election, although Al Gore won the popular vote. Surely in a democracy, the person who receives the most votes should win, right?

Ideally that would be the case, but it is important to understand the Electoral College was not created just to mess up elections. There was a very good reason for it, and that reason was that our founding fathers realized that other issues of fairness required additional safeguards beyond mere majority rule.

If the United States were to adopt a system in which the winner were declared simply by the popular vote, candidates for president would find little need to pay any attention to small, rural states. Instead, they would find that their campaigns could save money and get more bang for their buck by focusing entirely on population centers—large metropolitan cities and heavily populated states such as New York, Florida, Texas and California.

- BAD IDEA No. 2: Regional super-primaries.

Every four years, it is guaranteed we will hear the familiar refrain, "Why should Iowa and New Hampshire hold so much sway over the presidential race?" The same could be said for Nevada and South Carolina, the only other states to hold their primaries and caucuses ahead of "Super Tuesday."

By voting first, it could be argued that these four small states hold too much influence over American politics. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani certainly saw the peril of ignoring those states in his failed presidential bid.

However, allowing those four states to vote ahead of the rest of the nation gives American voters some protection over the influence of big money in politics. Allowing four small states to vote first gives under-funded candidates an opportunity to level the playing field, because they do not need to spend as much money in those states to get their message out. This is certainly true of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was able to jump-start his campaign after a win in Iowa.

Switching to rotating regional primaries or even a national primary would ensure that only those who are able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars would be able to effectively compete for the presidency.

- BAD IDEA No. 3: "Unifying" the party.

As the Democratic race continues, with no apparent resolution before the party's convention in August, there have been calls from some for one of the two candidates to step aside to prevent further "damage" to the party. Such arguments only matter to partisan political professionals, not the American people.

The fact is, Democrats are evenly divided between two candidates, and that shows a need for more debate and discussion, not less.

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