Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Important (and Positive) Changes on how the US President is Elected

The series of Presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the long, complex process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments in the states which do not have caucuses instead. A state primary election usually determines which candidates for president will be supported by that state at the national convention of each political party.

Iowa and New Hampshire set the tone for the campaign—and allow an outsider to topple the favorite. In recent elections, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have garnered over half the national and international media attention paid to the entire selection process. New Hampshire jealously guards its first-in-the-nation status, (although it is being challenged in 2008).

Great attention is paid to the results of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary; however, critics, such as Mississippi secretary of state Eric Clark, and Tennessee Senator William Brock, point out that these states are not representative of the United States as a whole: they are overwhelmingly white, more rural, and wealthier than the national average, and neither is in the fast-growing West or South. For example, New Jersey and Montana, which are the last states to have their primaries, usually end up having no say in who the presidential candidate will be.

* January 14—Iowa Caucus
* January 15—Michigan Primary
* January 19—Democratic Nevada Caucus / Republican South Carolina Primary
* January 22—New Hampshire Primary This is a tentative date; by state law it must be changed to be first in the nation.
* January 29—Florida Primary
* February 5―West Virginia Republican Presidential Convention / California Primary / Arizona Primary
* February 7―Republican Nevada Caucus
* February 12—Pennsylvania Primary
* February 19―Washington State Primary

Think about this: two highly unrepresentative, presumptive small states (Iowa and New Hampshire) have the lion's share of power in picking a Presidential nominee for both parties, one of whom will control the White House and likely owe them to a greater degree than the other 98.6% of America's population in the other 48 states.

You may enjoy this state of affairs if you are form the Buckeye State or the Granite State but if you are from any other state in the union you probably
understand the unfairness of this tilted system--an imbalance that has its roots in the Constitution's total absence of guidance on political parties and presidential selection.

Michigan's primary change this week change was supported by large majorities in the state House and Senate and backed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and it was a significant move into fairer democracy. Four Democratic candidates have withdrawn from Michigan's Jan. 15 presidential primary, leaving what amounts to a beauty contest for front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and a handful of lesser-knowns. Barack Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson filed paperwork Tuesday, the deadline to withdraw from the ballot, said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State's office. A fourth candidate, Joe Biden, said in a statement that he was bypassing the primary.

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Florida, which moved its primary to Jan. 29 -- also in violation of national Democratic Party rules -- was sanctioned last week with the loss of all its delegates. But longtime political observers say it's an empty threat that the delegates wouldn't vote or count at the national convention.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, predicted that no matter what the national party threatens, the votes of Michigan and Florida Democrats will count at the national convention. The states have too many delegates to ignore, he said.

"I think it's all a bluff," he said. "They realize this system is insane, but they don't have the clout to do it."

What politicians need to realize is that most people in the USA today realize the "system" isn't working, that America's political system is unresponsive and fairly un-democratic, and is tradition-bound to the past. Think about it: why would all the local politicians move their primaries and ignore "national rules", and are threatened by the national political leadership of both parties? Because the local politicians are far more responsive to the American people and are acting appropriately. And I am all for this sort of positive change. Iowa and New Hampshire should not run the show to elect the most important office in the United States, the President.

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Some Random Quotes
There is no passion like that of a functionary for his function. - Georges Clemenceau

The world is round; it has no point. - Adrienne E. Gusoff

The cat could very well be man's best friend but would never stoop to admitting it. - Doug Larson

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death. - Joan D. Vinge

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