31 August 2007

Me First! Me First! Me First!!

Have you heard about the controversy swirling around the 2008 primaries? No, not the silly number of candidates that we're supposed to choose among. Not either the crazy right-wingers who are running. No, I'm talking about the movement among many states to move their primary election up so that they are before the 'traditional' first states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

This is a ridiculous bid for more attention from the candidates for every single state that's doing it. Michigan, Florida, and South Carolina, I'm talking to YOU. Do you honestly truly think that if your state is first that you'll somehow end up with more money or more pork-barrel projects? All that this scrambling around is doing is fostering bad feeling among the states, counter-productive, to say the least. Infighting among the parties, be they Dems or no, doesn't help either side's agenda.

Our system of a primary election and then a 'big' election, roughly six months or so apart isn't ideal, however it really isn't all that different from many other nation's "runoff" elections, held when there is no clear majority winner.

The problem that I have with the entire system is that it takes one hell of a lot of money to get elected in the first place; and since folks like Michael Bloomberg, New York City mayor and billionaire, are rare, folks who want to run need a sizable bankroll. You don't get that kind of money in this particular system without promising something in return to your financial backers. Political favors, ambassador appointments, what have you. Unless you can finance your entire campaign all by your lonesome self.

Each state that tries to move their primary forward so that they're "FIRST!" is (perhaps unintentionally) only adding to this money problem. If the first primary is held in January, which is where Michigan has now moved theirs, that pushes election season back into the preceding year even more than it already is. Which forces candidates to raise more money, sooner, and faster. It is a vicious cycle. Which will only perpetuate itself until only the wealthiest can be our elected leaders.

Is that government of, for, and by the people?

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