ELECTION REFORM….Jimmy Carter and James Baker have teamed up to recommend changes to the way we vote. Among other things, their final report recommends that “Congress require the political parties to hold four regional presidential primaries in election years rather than allowing states to hold primaries whenever they wish.”
Excellent! That sounds like a great idea to me. But wait. There’s an asterisk:
In presidential election years, after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, the other states should hold regional primaries and caucuses at monthly intervals in March, April, May and June, with the order rotated.
….The commission said it was worthwhile for Iowa and New Hampshire to continue to vote first because “they test the candidates by genuine retail, door-to-door campaigning.”
Look. I know that Iowa and New Hampshire are hellbent on keeping their status as early bellwethers. But can we face facts? It’s the 21st century and America has a population of nearly 300 million. Presidential elections aren’t decided by “genuine retail, door-to-door campaigning” any longer. Like it or not, they just aren’t.
Party leaders are idiots for giving in to this kind of nostalgia. If you want to win, you don’t want a candidate who’s good at “genuine retail, door-to-door campaigning.” You want a candidate who can kick ass with the national press, raise a ton of money, and run a campaign that appeals to tens of millions of people who will never see you except on the evening news and a few TV commercials.
You don’t like that? You think it sounds too cynical? So do I. But it’s time to get over ourselves. Modern elections are big, media-centric affairs, and successful candidates are ones who are comfortable there. It’s time to grow up.