Lacey Smith

Why the early primary states hurt the process (and conservatives)

In Politics on January 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

The dust from last Tuesday’s Iowa Caucus has pretty well settled. The one major casualty was Michelle Bachmann while the real victor may have been Ron Paul (see why I say that here).

Frankly, I was a little surprised and disappointed that Bachmann dropped out so soon. I though for sure she would hold out for another couple of states to see how things went.

I’d been slowly moving towards her as my favorite candidate. Once I got past that she appeared crazy in the mainstream media (why is it conservative women always look insane?) and actually listened to what she was saying, I found that she hit most of the points I was looking for.

While I agree with a friend who says “It’s not her time,” it’s disappointing that she’s out.

Unfortunately, her low showing in one state convinced her to drop out of the race.

This brings me to my point: these early primary (and caucus) states really hurt the process. This is especially true because it’s largely swing (and more moderate) states that are early primary states.

By the time “red” states like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming get a chance, a lot of the candidates have been forced out of the race.

Because those states almost always go to the Republican candidate, they essentially have the choice made for them.

Recognizing this, Idaho moved their primary up to Super Tuesday to try to give themselves more influence.

Losing the voices of many of the countries most republican and conservative citizen in the smallest states  (population-wise) really harms candidate selection and the whole process.

Since more liberal states end up having the first say in candidate selection, it automatically puts more conservative candidates like Michelle Bachmann at a disadvantage.

Then, when the general election rolls around we end up with a choice between John McCain and Barack Obama. Frankly, there’s hardly a dime’s worth of difference between the ideology of the two (and before anyone yells at me… really? let’s look at the record).

When the choice is between two people who are have essentially the same ideology, the country loses.

Late primary states who feel disenfranchised by the current system have moved their primaries up. Fearing a loss of power, states with early primaries push them even earlier causing elections to be held immediately after the holidays. These inter-state squabbles make the process more about retaining power than electing the best person (ah, Federalism).

These extremely early primaries harm voters abilities to be prepared and educated and allows scandals to go essentially unnoticed in the holiday rush right before the primaries.

Ultimately small, typically more conservative states get disenfranchised while the more liberal states make the key decisions.

I don’t know if a national primary is the answer. That would have it’s own problems. There are also really good things about the early primaries.

However, disenfranchising a large group of Americans and creating a system wherein the two main candidates end up being essentially the same are major disadvantages.

I don’t know what the answer is, but we have to recognize that there is a problem in order to be able to fix it. Maybe this is one place the RNC steps in (shudder) or maybe candidates and the people start putting less emphasis on the early primaries.

In the mean time, there is one good thing about living in a small, red state: I always get to vote my conscience and it never hurts the national election.


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