Monday, October 08, 2007

How screwed up is our presidential selection system?

On how many levels is the process by which we choose our next president screwed up?

First of all--the "primaries."

Primaries have no explicit or implicit basis in the constitution. They are rooted in this rather bizarre "party" system we have now. The order of primaries is bound by nothing other than tradition.

With all due respect to the fine citizens of these states, WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE? These two states together have fewer people than live in metro Chicago, yet they can determine who leads the free world? Iowa farmers who think Steve Alford is a great guy and the inhabitants of Our Town get to decide? Also note that a primary vote is only a vote for delegates, who, in many states, have no obligation to do what the voters want.

Second--money. I don't really need to say more, we have a perverse system where fundraising, rather than positions, defines who wins. I get at least 10 calls a day from various candidates because I stupidly gave $50 to the DNC in '04 (and the "Do Not Call" list does not apply to political solicitations.) Money has grotesquely perverted what used to be "the democratic process."

And finally--"the electoral college." Yes, I know it is defined in the constitution, and I am loathe to amend the constitution to put the social policy du jour in place.

However, it is beyond clear that this vestige of an era when the vote was not universal and there was no national media no longer serves a defensible purpose. If a national candidate need not campaign in Texas or Illinois, the system is broken--period. Every vote counts, so--count them.

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