Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The State of the States

Now that 2008 is here, let's take a look at that other sport that starts its regular season this week -- presidential politics.

Most of the screaming of late has been about the process. Why Iowa and New Hampshire with all the influence? Why not some state that has influence for real, all the time, like California? Or Ohio? Or Florida? Nah, forget Florida. They used up their influence in that fiasco they gave us 7-plus years ago.

There's actually a bigger question - why ANY state?

The Democratic and Republican parties are private enterprises, not governmental agencies. They don't have to go through the primary process at all if they didn't feel like it.

Nope. All they have to do is gather the leaders of their parties together in a room and haggle in private. When they are done, come out and tell us who they've nominated. We the people, and not paid members of any political party, can then vote for who we like.

Such a system would save the taxpayers millions of dollars in matching funds given to candidates to support their campaigns. It would free up millions of dollars spent by states to hold primary elections. Why states spend public dollars to subsidize private companies, that have substantial fundraising systems, in their leadership selection process will never cease to gall me. It would also significantly shorten the campaign cycle from two years to several months.

Alas, there's a very big reason this change will never happen. And it's the same reason the Cubs are for sale: The need for media companies to generate dollars.

Anyone see CNN or Faux News lately? Non-stop campaign talk (excluding the occasional Spears-Pregnancy update - which one got knocked up now?). They need the horse race to fill their broadcast hours. Why won't the states get rid of the primary process? Same reason. The local TV and radio stations all want the revenue from the various state, local, and federal campaigns.

There's talk that this will be the swan song for the Iowa Caucuses. That's only a good thing if they are replaced with nothing.

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