Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A Fine Way to Pick a President

Just to bring you up to date on how the citizens of America Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida have gone about picking a republican to run against the current president.

Total Republican Votes in Iowa  - 123,000
Total Republican Votes in N.H.  - 248,000
Total Republican Votes in S.C.   - 604,000
Votes for just Romney in Florida - 772,000

Mitt Romney 'won' the Florida primary with 46% of the vote. He 'won' with less than a majority but got all the delegates from Florida. He got more votes in Florida than all the votes cast for him in the three previous primaries. He ran some of the foulest ads that anyone has ever seen in political primaries. He still has less than 100 delegates with over 1400 needed to win the nomination, but we are now being told by the talking heads that the race is over.

Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina - this is how we pick presidents? Why don't we run the nominating process like American Idol and let everyone text their choice? I would have suggested voting them off the island a la Survivor but seeing Santorum with a torch would make it just too easy for the political cartoonists.


BJ Nemeth said...

A slow-building primary process gives less-famous candidates a chance to prove themselves to smaller groups of people. It allows ideas to play a larger role in the early stages than commercials.

Think for a moment what the process would be like if all 50 states held their primary election on Super Tuesday. The only candidates who would have a chance would be those who are already famous (Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani) or filthy rich (Mitt Romney), and the campaign would be waged on TV (one-way) rather than in traditional town halls (interactive).

Is our current system perfect? Of course not. But if you call for a one-time national primary, you'll need to seriously address the problems associated with it.

I'm also against a "popular vote" for the President (as opposed to electoral votes) for similar reasons. The election would come down to commercials in big-city markets (mainly along the coasts), neglecting everyone else in the country as irrelevant.

The Shrink said...

All well made and interesting points if you believe the system is fair to begin with, which I certainly do not. A two party system excludes more voices than it includes. Iowa was bought, so was New Hampshire. Florida is at least a diverse and populated state.

A national primary would be just a sham two party election. You want fairness, then every state must have the chance to be first, second or third in the primary election system. Randomness would do that and say maybe five to seven Super Tuesdays. But again, that only gives you semi-fair candidates for two parties.

300 million people could probably handle considering maybe 3 or perhaps 4 real candidates in the November election.

BJ Nemeth said...

To seriously change the two-party system, you'd need to change the Constitution.

While the U.S. Constitution doesn't specifically mention parties, the way our national elections work (plurality voting) really discourages third parties, because there is no reward for winning 10-30% of the vote.

Some countries have political systems that encourage multiple parties (proportional representation), by assigning seats to the legislature based on their percentage of the vote. But to implement that here would require a change to the U.S. Constitution.

But that's the November election. If you want to change the primary process, you'll have to petition the parties directly. (Good luck with that.)

So if you are suggesting that we change the Constitution, how would you change it?