Monday, April 21, 2008

The Nitpicky Voter has been Cheated

With all of the hysteria leading up to the Pennsylvania Primary on Tuesday April 22nd 2008, I think it's time for the Nitpicky Voter to get up on the soap box.

Voting is a special sub-set of consumerism. If you wanted to make an apple pie, you'd need to research the various types of apples and the qualities that they'd give to the pie. i.e. you'd choose the apple to make the type of pie you want. The same process should be applied to choosing a candidate for president. You must research to make sure you are choosing the person who will be the type of president you desire.

The news media is calling this year's contest for the Democratic spot on the ballot the "hottest race of our lifetime." A more accurate statement might be to say that this year has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that our primary system is completely broken and is in desperate need of modernization. When you start to hear people say things like, "I am so excited; this is the first time my vote has ever meant anything," you know that something is broken.

What we desperately need, to ensure that all opinions are heard, the field offers the choice that we all deserve, and everyone's vote counts, we must change to a National Primary. i.e. Super Tuesday needs to be 50 states, not 24 states. The staggered primary system is leftover from a bygone era ... an age with no radio and certainly no TV. With no way to instantly communicate to the entire country, the elections and caucauses had to be staggered so that candidates could travel to the various parts of this vast country. Here in the 2000's, when we more forms of instant communication than we probably even need, this system needs to be trashed.

Just think of what a National Primary would mean:

  • We'd all get to vote for ALL the candidates. Right now, only Iowa and maybe New Hampshire gets to vote for all of them. Then the candidates start to drop out as the media picks their favorites. How is that fair? Why are they so important? Why should the opinions of two relatively small states get to decide the candidates for the rest of us?
  • The media wants to cover what is NEW; they want to cover the black spot on the white canvas. With a national primary, there wouldn't be as much time for certain candidates to become the black spots, based either on background or actions or words. All the candidates would get more equal coverage.
  • There would be a greater, more sustained focus on Issues. In the beginning, long ago, there was more serious talk of problems and solutions. Now, as the weeks drag on, the campaign has wittled down to grandstanding, stumping, and spinning (and of course jibes at the other candidates). Real talk about real matters has faded away.
  • All these millions of dollars that are being used to create ad after ad in state after state could be used in better ways. Whether that be helping the environment or simply helping to fill our fuel tanks.
We lost some very good candidates too early. These people had important things to say, and some of us were listening. But given our current system, and its dependency on witty personalities and huge budgets, they weren't able to continue the race.

On the Republican side, Ron Paul (who I believe has never uttered a sound-bite in his life) got no press at all. Early on, he did MUCH better than Fred Thompson, yet the media gave all the coverage to Thompson, a colorful former actor who provided more entertainment value than the issues-driven Paul. And on the Democratic side, John Edwards and Bill Richardson couldn't compete with the first woman and first African-American. The Media didn't even give lip service to Richardson, and barely covered Edwards, even though he did extremely well in Iowa. Had the Primary been National, it is almost assured that the nominees would be different.

So, now Pennsylvania voters have a chance for their vote to "count" ... in a field that is down to only two candidates whose ideas are so similar that even the press can't figure out what makes them different beyond their obvious racial and gender differences. Here's to hoping that this is a wake-up call and that four years from now all of our primary votes will count.

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