Stop the Madness!

Am I the only one who thinks it’s insane to be starting the Presidential primary on January 3 and having the winners chosen by February 5?

If you, like me, are looking forward to a TEN MONTH presidential campaign and all that entails with utter dread, you can, as with so many other things that are just plain wrong, blame Oregon Republicans and crooked Democrats.

WARNING: History Stuff

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison founded the Democratic – Republican Party in 1792. From 1800 to 1824 its members held the White House and, for a time, more than 80% of the House and Senate seats. Democratic-Republican members of Congress selected their party’s nominee in a vote. The leaders of the opposing Federalist Party, in whose membership political appointees, bankers, lawyers and editors figured prominently, chose their nominees in the “smoke filled room” of legend. OK, OK, I realize that the Democratic – Republican Party nominee was also chosen in a smoke filled room, despite the perfunctory vote.

By the 1820s both the Federalist and Democratic – Republican Parties had splintered and reformed into other political parties. The preferred method of candidate selection became the national convention by the 1832 election. Local party bosses selected delegates to the conventions who then selected their parties’ nominees. The conventions typically took place in July or August, leaving only two or three months for the candidates to torture the voters.

Progressive era Oregon Republican reformers created the presidential preference primary in 1910 so that the state’s candidate choices (at least in theory) reflected the will of the voters, instead of the political bosses. National convention delegates were required to vote for the winners of the state primaries. This didn’t really catch on nationwide until after the chaotic 1968 Democratic Convention.

Hubert Humphrey secured his party’s nomination over opponent Eugene McCarthy in a vote many Democrats considered to be an egregious example of the will of the party machine over the will of the party voters. Of course, it could just have been another example of Democrats crying “voter fraud” because they were unhappy with the outcome of a vote. The eventual outcome is that both Democrats and Republicans adopted the current system of presidential primaries.

Most state primaries were initially held in late spring, but as states realized that earlier primary dates increased their political capital, the backwards creep — that became a headlong rush with this election – began. Many state primaries are now three to four months earlier than they were in 1972. The national convention quickly became an exercise in redundancy and a foregone conclusion. This year, the nominees will, for all intents and purposes, be selected February 5 when voters in 23 states representing the majority of the delegates, cast their ballots. That moves the presidential campaign ahead six months from 1972.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’d almost welcome the return of the selection of candidates in smoke filled rooms if they’d put it off until August. The only beneficiaries of this lengthened campaign are the special interests to whom all candidates must turn for cash. Think about it. TEN MONTHS of commercials, TEN MONTHS of speeches, TEN MONTHS of parsing of commercials and speeches by the media and the pundits, TEN MONTHS of “clarification” of speeches and commercials by candidates and double speaking campaign flacks, TEN MONTHS of backbiting and backstabbing. TEN MONTHS of junk mail, TEN MONTHS of annoying campaign volunteers with “cult member” eyes coming to your door during dinner.

TEN MONTHS of everything that is wrong with Amierican Politics.

Are you nauseas yet?