Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Primary Solution

Just as moving Christmas earlier and earlier in the year has led to a higher incidence of workplace fatalities in the North Pole, so too the acceleration of the presidential primaries can bring no good to the political process.

This year, the early primary season has seen the Fred Thompson kabuki fan dance, Barack Obama self-destructing before summer is out, and a slew of second-rate pretenders taking themselves seriously as potential presidents a full 18 months before the election.

I don’t know about you, but spreading megalomania is not what the founders intended. Several of these cockerels aren’t qualified to be president of the Urinal Cake Changers’ Association, much less the United States. And a lot of these people should really be working at their day jobs in the government, not toodling around asking me for money so they can try to impress Iowa hayseeds and grumpy Michigan auto workers.

Now we have this accelerating arms race, and Iowa and New Hampshire are prepared to vote next week (if necessary) to be first. All this political coverage is interfering with important, real news like the Iraq report coming out in September, Michael Vick’s animal cruelty charges, and details of Britney Spears’ latest pantieless tirade at a photo shoot.

In order to solve this problem here’s what I propose:

1) The states will be put into three groups, each comprising about a third of the total primary votes. You can group them however you want, so long as you have roughly 1/3 of the votes collected in each group.

2) Choose a week to have the primary vote in Group 1. One week later, Group 2 votes. One week later, Group 3 votes.

3) Next primary season (in four years), you switch the order: Group 3 goes first, Group 1 goes second, and Group 2 goes third. Then the primary after that, you switch again.

There, problem solved. The vote’s not certain until the third group, unless one candidate just sweeps through Group 1 and 2. Candidates can hone their strategy: they could concentrate on the later groups, or the first and third, or whatever.

Best of all, the states’ complaints about being last should stop. You’re last one time, then first, then second, then last again. So you are guaranteed to be “important” at least once every three elections. That’s not so bad, is it? It’s fair and equitable. If you turn out to be a tiny little state with no real impact…well, get more people or shut your pie-hole.

Am I missing something here? Or must we endure this lengthening primary season until it reaches the absurd, with Michigan voting in 2010 for 2012, and Iowa voting in 2009 just to spite Michigan?