Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Case for A National Primary

John McCain has just saved me $30. Maybe he is the right guy for the White House. How did he save me $30? By clinching the Republican Presidential nomination this week, he has nullified any vote I would cast in the Indiana primary on May 6. Since I recently moved to Indianapolis, and have not yet updated my voter registration, I had planned to make the drive to my old precinct to cast a vote in the Republican primary. That would have cost me about $30 in gas round trip. Now that my vote doesn't matter, I can save the gas money.

I had originally planned to make the drive and cast a ballot anyway, with a symbolic vote for former Senator Fred Thompson. Just to make a statement. But it appears that Thompson dropped out of the race before registering to appear on the Indiana ballot. So I'd have to write in his name, which would simply lump my vote into the meaningless "Others" slice of the pie on the big CNN map.

This is my problem with the whole Presidential election cycle. It seems to start earlier and earlier every election year. The current candidates have been campaigning -- by whatever name they may have called it in the early months -- since just after the 2006 general election. By the time we go to the polls to vote for the Democrat, Republican, or "Other" candidate of our choice, the campaign will have been in full swing for two years. That's two years of sitting Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain collecting a paycheck to do the people's work that they couldn't actually do because they were too busy debating and asking for our vote. That's two years that the federal government has been matching campaign contributions using our tax dollars for candidates that, personally, I would rather not give a dime to. And they've been doing this for the past two years just so that my vote on May 6 will be meaningless.

I don't understand why we don't have a national primary day: one day when every voter in every state goes to the polls and votes in his or her state primary for the candidate they would like nominated for their party. This would solve so many issues.

First, we wouldn't have to put up with the tripe that flows from the candidates like we do now. With some of these candidates, you can't tell if they're running against other candidates in their own party, candidates in the other party, or the sitting President. With a national primary day, each candidate could focus all of his resources on convincing us that he is better than the other guy -- or gal.

Second, with only one election, we could eliminate the debate in every state that we've been subjected to by CNN and MSNBC for the past eight months. No need to go to New Hampshire, Iowa, Texas, Florida, and thirty other states to say the same thing over and over and over trying to convince the voters of that state how to vote. One election, one debate. Okay, two debates -- one per party -- but that sure beats the forty-some debates we've been bullied with over the past several months.

Third, fewer debates, one national primary, it all adds up to less travel by the candidates -- travel at the taxpayer's expense for candidates who are currently holding office. Plus less money they have to throw at television advertising for each individual primary. As well as less time to gather campaign contributions for which they receive matching federal funds. A national primary would cost taxpayers less money.

Fourth, and most importantly, a national primary would make every vote count. Under the current system, the media has far too much influence over who is elected President. There is so much hype behind who wins this state or that, and that hype affects people. It influences their opinion of the candidates. For many people who are unsure, but want to back a winner, it influences which candidate they vote for. And for many voters like myself, who strongly support a particular candidate, if that candidate isn't leading in the delegate count and drops out, it forces them to choose another candidate.

A national primary would prevent the media from deciding how the voters vote. First, with the whole nation voting on the same day, every voter would be able to choose from every candidate, not just those that have stayed in the race long enough to make it on the ballot in a specific state. Instead of having two Democrats and one Republican to choose from at this point, we would all have something like ten or twelve candidates to choose from in each party. And instead of making half the votes meaningless when a candidate has clinched the nomination before primary day, every voter would be able to cast a meaningful vote on the same day.

I'm just saying, I'd like my vote to count. And I honestly think every candidate would stand a fair chance at the nomination if every state held their primary on the same day. So a candidate who would have more support in the later primaries doesn't have to drop out before his supporters get a chance to vote if we moved to a national primary.

It just seems to me a sad state of affairs that American Idol has a more democratic selection process than the United States of America does. Hey, there's an idea. Phone or text in your vote over a three hour period. And don't forget, standard text messaging rates apply. Boy wouldn't that save the taxpayers some money.



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