How about we all – EVERY American with the right to vote – get a chance to decide who our next President will be?
We may vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday every four years for a President, but that person is determined way in advance. The first caucus is in Iowa almost eleven months prior to the general election. I remember right after the Iowa caucus in 2004 going “Who is John Kerry and why is he out on top?” I knew and respected the Senator, but he was far from being my first choice. That’s something that I heard from many Democrats. We would support him, but he was not our first choice.
Unfortunately, we never had a say in the candidate selection. In Oregon, where this Proud Liberal lives, our 2004 primary was in May, way after the candidate was decided. Basically, Iowa and New Hampshire decided that Kerry would be the candidate, based on him winning those contests and taking that momentum and going forward into the other contests. BTW, there’s a great read up on this, and the fact that Kerry wasn’t one of the frontrunners, coming out as a surpise frontrunner, over at Wikipedia. Check it out.
So there we have it. 1.5% of the US population deciding on the Presidential candidate for the 98.5% rest of the population. How is that right?
Well several states are making a move in the right direction. This morning, New York decided to join with nine other states, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Utah to move their primary up to February 5th, 2008, just three weeks after Iowa caucuses and two weeks after New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucus. But will we see the same behavior? Will a surprise frontrunner come out of Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire, get all of the media attention and capture the “New” Super Tuesday?
We’ll see. Personally, I’m all for a nationwide primary, with public funding (no opt-out) of major candidates so the inequality in money raising is not an issue. I mean, why don’t we ALL have a say in who the next Presidential candidates are? It’s just right. After all, this is more like picnic, not a wedding reception. We all can decide to bring vegan potato salad or bacon filled potato skins!