Political Primaries Need an Overhaul

voter-infoAs the political circus of the last year kicks into full gear, we all sit back and wonder…when will the madness be over!?!

That’s right; I’m talking about the ridiculous, wasteful, and in many ways corrupt primary system of this country. I don‘t know why we (meaning we the people, the American citizens) allow the primary elections to last weeks and weeks. Shouldn’t elections last one day? Think of the madness and insane consequences we would have if the presidential election was held over a period of weeks? It would be chaos. It would be totally misleading. It would be a gigantic political farce.

I think the primaries are out of control for several reasons: First, millions of dollars are offered for states to hold the first primary in a place that heavily favors candidate X. Then, everyone disregards all of the “rules” that nobody actually follows and any recourse or penalty is in name only and never really penalizes anyone except the candidates not favored in this micro region. Political candidate X might have some totally radical ideas that go over well in this small region regardless how the entire country thinks. Even though this one state’s primary involves only a small fraction of the country, the media takes the story and runs with it, acting as if this one state speaks for the nation.

Since almost all political candidates at the national level are also public servants who are currently in office, primaries and elections take candidates away from their responsibilities as elected officials. This contributes to the slowdown and breakdown of our already dysfunctional government. If they happen to lose, they may only waste a year of their public office. However, if they stay in the race or even win a nomination, they will spend up to two years of their time in public office campaigning instead of governing. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking it is NOT OK to spend 25%-50% of your time in a job neglecting your actual job duties to look for another job. That kind of dereliction of duty should define someone as unacceptable to hold that position. But the candidates don’t have a choice if they want a shot at the nomination.

To get our political system moving back in the right direction, we need an overhaul of the political primaries. Here are some ideas to move this along:

Reverse Citizens United

First and foremost, corporate money needs to be taken out of politics. This has much more far reaching impacts but this unlimited, anonymous money that flows to the most cooperative politicians has to stop. This ruling above all else is fundamentally undermining our entire democracy.

Institute an Attendance Policy

I would like to see active politicians have a mandated requirement for the amount of time they must spend actually doing the job they were elected for in the first place. We did not elect them to campaign. We elected them to help run our country.

Regulate Campaigning Time

This can be a bit tricky, but I believe regulating the time ALL politicians can spend campaigning could be the key to successful governing. If campaign time was restricted by law or rules of elections it may have a huge impact on the time spent and wasted during the months and years of campaigning.

This could also have the benefit of forcing politicians to tackle the real issues in quick and concise ways. If they had 2 months to let the nation know where they stood on the issues versus two years, they would have to be clearer. And if they weren’t, they would appear to be unable to handle the monumental tasks involved in governing, and we would not vote for them.

Primary Elections Held at the Same Time

If the primary elections for these politicians were held at the same time on the same day like regular elections, we would avoid so much of our current troubles. The final national elections would reflect more accurately the will of the people, if the parties nominated their candidate on the same day. As it stands now, the many different primary elections all act like micro-elections with their own media circus and media analysis.

Something Has to Change Politically

Our current system is a joke. It wastes time and money. It doesn’t give us a clear picture of any political candidate nor does it reflect what the country actually wants.

If all the states’ primaries were the second Tuesday of February, it would all be done at once.

Pull the corporate money out of the equation so politicians can actually focus on doing what’s best for the American people, instead of the corporations that buy them.

Limit wasted time. Politicians were elected to govern!

You may see some problems with these proposed ideas. You might think of a loophole or two. You may be right, but is our current system any better?

We KNOW the current process is severely flawed. We might only guess that something proposed here won’t work politically. But until we try new things, or impose new rules and regulations until things DO work better and our government DOES work for us. We are the ones at fault because we as a people are not pushing hard enough for real, true, and helpful change.

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