Fortunately, no one was
desparate enough to schedule a 2008 presidential primary or caucus in 2007. As
it is, the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus will be just three nights past New
Year’s Eve, making the first results of the 2008 election process known before
the NCAA national football champion. The Democratic and Republican nominees
probably will be settled upon nine days before Valentine’s Day, or just about
1,700 hours away.
What was Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger thinking when he moved up the June 3 primary to Feb. 5? Like
most politicians, he assumed California would become a kingpin in the crazy
nomination process. However, most of the other 49 states became afraid of
behemouth California and either moved their primaries and caucuses ahead of
California’s or to the same first Tuesday in February. Unless there are more
adjustments, 34 states will hold primaries or caucuses on or before Feb. 5,
with 10 states having them even earlier — beginning with Iowa Jan. 3, Wyoming
Republicans Jan. 5 and New Hampshire Jan. 8.
Everything is fast-forward,
leaving candidates with less time to raise campaign money, to debate the
issues, to meet the voters and to sling mud at their opponents. And it leaves
voters with less time to choose the right candidate. After Feb. 5, there will
be a lull of eight months before the fall campaign. In our instantaneous world,
that seems like a lifetime for critical issues that come and go. Will voters
become to doubt that they selected the right candidate way back when?
Before we are forced to
participate in such a farce in 2012, the Republican and Democratic national
committees should consider establishing primaries regionally the first Tuesday
of February, March, April and May. The regions would rotatet every presidential
election year, so California would be at the front of the pack every 16 years.
Likewise, our state would be at the back of the line every 16 years.
Less of the candidates’ time
would be wasted flying from one end of the country to the other, and less of
the candidates’ money would be wasted on national advertising before the fall
campaign. The candidates could hone their primary campaigns to specific
regional issues each month. And the national media would have less influence on
selling the flavor-of-the-week candidate. This would make the presidential race
a Quadruple Crown rather than a sprint.
a regional primary calendar, too, since they will find difficult this year to
get their conventional campaign message out the week before Christmas. Caroling
with Hillary, anyone? Does anyone want to sit on Santa Rudy’s lap?