Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Pyramid Scheme

Am I the only one who is dissatisfied with the primary process to elect a President? Is there a way to keep it around that will address shortcomings and hopefully produce a pair of worthy candidates? If you have a better idea I would love to hear it. For now, here is mine.

I don't mind spreading the states out over a period of months. But it seems that right now certain states are spread out far enough that some are disenfranchised. At the moment, Texas will be a key state for the Dems. But, if you are Republican your candidate is already virtually locked in. Basically, under the current system, if your favorite candidate drops out, you may lose the option of helping him or her. I hope to address that here.

My concept is a pyramid scheme that I think would work so much better. The first state at the top of the pyramid would be whoever is traditionally first in the nation. I think that Iowa would be it. Then two weeks later you hold the next two states. Again, for traditions sake I would put New Hampshire and Wyoming in the second group of two. Two weeks later you would hold the next four primaries. Then eight, then sixteen, then twenty. Each would be two weeks apart and have about twice as many as the one before it.

The first three were placed as a nod to tradition. The remaining forty-seven (or is it forty-eight with DC?) would be in order from the lowest to the highest in delegate counts. So, the final tier of either twenty or twenty-one would truly be a "Super Tuesday" as they would all be potentially the deciding state.

Why bother changing things? In my own case I am a bit ticked off that my state comes at a time when the majority of the original slate has quit. I've also heard folks calling for a one-day national primary. I really want to halt that idea in it's tracks. I respect that each party makes it's own rules and would hope that they see this as an improvement after I explain all the advantages.

The very first advantage is that it will potentially allow many folks with little or no money to run. A national primary would be impossible for a "small" candidate to make a run for it because of the expense. This way, he or she can potentially do well and make enough in donations to move to the next level. Since each level doubles the previous one, you will have to do well or drop. So, there is still an evolutionary element to weed out the weak.

The next advantage is that by doubling the states each week we subject the candidates to a stressful and potentially exhausting campaign. The reason for this designed cruelty is to evaluate how they perform under stress and how they manage things as the stress only gets greater. The Presidency is a 24/7 occupation. It visibly ages the people who hold the job. A candidate who cannot maintain the pace, and maintain his or her bearing and comportment will likely fail in office.

Another advantage is that by stacking the delegates from lowest (except perhaps for the traditional first three) to highest, no one candidate gets a "mandate" allowing them to slack off later down the road. Because the margins are thinner, there will be far more intense competition all the way to the convention. It won't be until the "Super Tuesday" of the final twenty or twenty-one that anyone is likely to break free.

The final obvious advantage is that the primary season will be shorter, more intense, and far more focused.

So there it is. While there would be state by state tweaks by the parties and the national headquarters, the system would be an improvement over our current one. It would preserve tradition to an extent. It would allow smaller candidates a better chance to prove themselves. It would virtually eliminate creating states where your vote was really pointless. And it would allow us to observe the candidates under near "job-quality" stress and compress the primaries into a far more palatable time frame.

Some other things I would hope are worth considering: We should close the primary so that only the registered party members can vote. The winner take all states should consider proportionate delegate assignments based on the popular vote. Finally, here is a radical one, delegates should not be thrown to someone who didn't earn them.

Thanks for reading. Comments are welcomed as always.

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