Reformed primary should become a nationwide day

Gregory D. Cook, Photographer

Unless you actually have been living under a rock – a rock without television, newspaper or internet service – you must know that later this year, the people of this great land will be asked to once again enter the election booths to make their choice for America’s front man. To that end, “Primary Fever” is also sweeping the land, as the Republican Party scrambles over itself to decide whose name it will place opposite Barack Obama’s on the ballot. The Democrats are also holding primaries, but with President Obama’s main competition coming from the likes of Massachusetts’ Vermin Supreme, who campaigns on a platform of government-enforced teeth brushing and Zombie-Apocalypse readiness, the Republican Party’s primaries are garnering the lion’s share of the media attention.

With the mud-slinging and “he said this, he didn’t say that” sensationalism only promising to intensify over the next months, one might be tempted to wonder if the primary system is really necessary in today’s day and age or an unnecessary distraction and drain on the non-incumbent party.

The primary system doesn’t have its roots in the Constitution. In fact, until the early 1820s, that party’s congressmen nominated the candidates for each party. While the first primaries were held in 1910, it wasn’t until after the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National Convention that the primary system became the nation’s standard method of thinning the presidential-wannabe herd, and choosing the Republican and Democratic candidates.

One of the main problems with the primary system, as it currently stands, is the fact that they are spread out over the better part of a year. At the time this is printed, only 11 of the 57 total primaries will have been held, and already there is talk of a front-runner. We are barely into the first turn of this horse race and already Mitt Romney is being touted as the potential winner. In fact, all but four of the horses have already quit the race based on the way they came out of the gate. This can’t help but affect the way the rest of the country votes. When the California primary finally roles around in June, what choices will we have left?

Even though California controls the most delegates of any single state in the nation, the race will more than likely be all but over by the time we get around to voicing our opinions. Are we really being given a fair voice in the political process? It doesn’t seem like it. Also, the primaries seem like a tremendous waste of money and effort for the non-incumbent party.

According to a recent New York Times article, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has already spent over $37 million in hopes of winning the race just to the starting line of the real race. In fact, the Republican candidates combined have raised over $100 million just to trash each other, while the Democrats are able to sit back and wait to unload on the unlucky fellow that manages to climb out of the mud pit of the Republican National Convention in late August.

We can’t just get rid of primaries altogether. Not only do they serve to focus the financial and campaigning might of the major political parties, they also prevent the American public from being presented with a ballot containing so many choices that it dilutes the vote to a point where there can be no clear winner.

But a fairer, more sensible proposition would be to have for a nationwide primary that took place all on the same day. That would, at the very least, give everyone, even the 53,000 people of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth that is last on the Republican primary list, a choice of the full field of candidates.