Monday, October 03, 2011

If our party leaders can't deal with Iowa and New Hampshire...

The political world is in a tizzy because Florida had the absolute temerity to move their primary up to January 31. That throws everything off schedule that the GOP had been hoping to do in February. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada have been guaranteed to be the first states so they're going to move their dates up to January, and maybe New Hampshire will even go as early as December 2011.

Every four years we go through this whole rigmarole about the schedule. Every four years, the parties try to find some way to get around frontloading the primaries and caucuses too early. This time the GOP had thought they had worked out a nice plan using incentives and penalties to keep states other than the blessed four from going before February. They were going to have a nice, orderly progression. And any state that tried to jump the queue would be punished by losing half their delegates and having to have their delegates allotted on a proportional rather than a winner-take-all basis.

But Florida decided that they'd rather take the penalty. They prefer to have their primary early. They know that they're a big, crucial swing state so candidates will have to pay them attention even if it only means getting half the delegates.

Well, fine. I don't blame them one bit. I don't know why every year, the entire political establishment has to tremble in their boots because Iowa and New Hampshire know that they have a good deal going first. They get attention and money spent in their state that otherwise they wouldn't garner. And people pay obeisance to their oversize influence.

I'd like to see the parties construct some other system and just give a big kiss-off to Iowa and New Hampshire. I'd prefer some sort of rotating regional primary system, but I'm open to all sorts of ideas.

This shouldn't be an intractable problem. There are solutions out there. And if Iowa and New Hampshire politicians stamped their feet and screamed and yelled and went ahead and scheduled their caucus and primary early, fine. Better to deny them their delegates than big states like Florida and Michigan. Let them see how it feels to be punished for acting so spoiled.

I know that are parties are weak when it comes to the nomination process, but there is no constituency to support the mess we have now except for Iowans and New Hampshirites. And they cozened South Carolina and Nevada to join their little posse of petulance by allowing them to join the officially sanctioned early-state brigade. It's senseless and the whole system is ready for reform.

If the parties can't solve a problem like scheduling a few primaries that they'd both like to solve, how are these politicians going to deal with really tough problems like reforming Medicare, reining in our spending, or reforming our tax code and business climate so our economy can start growing?