Friday, April 29, 2005

Know What I Meme? 

I just sent the following to the DNC, in response to their online solicitation for ideas in improving the presidential primary process. I figured I'd copy the text to here, as a way of giving it a wider airing, as well as help chlorinate the memepool a bit. Or pollute it. My DNC email follows.

In this age of instant communications and interconnectedness, I often wonder why the primary season is spread out. The trouble with this system is that a candidate who is popular in states with earlier primaries may not be the best person for the job, nor the most electable; likewise, a truly innovative candidate with ideas may be weeded out of the process via more centrist/conservative states.

So, a radical but obvious proposal: why can't all of the primaries be on the same day, at the same time? Or why not a double-primary? Have a nationwide nominating primary in March, narrowing the field to two or three possible nominees, and a final primary in June.

This would certainly cut down the chatter of having nine or more possible nominees campaigning at once, then playing "American Idol" through the state primaries. It would also keep the media out of second-guessing the party's opinion, as well as stop them from manipulating the outcomes -- referring, of course, to the infamous, out-of-context Dean "Yeargh" moment, which came at just the wrong time.

There may not be time to make this change by 2008, but I think it's an adjustment to the system that must be made. Having a national primary will help keep both parties unified, instead of splitting the non-incumbent party into a plethora of competing voices until the convention. It will also limit the opportunity for fraud and manipulation, since voting will take place on a much larger scale all-at-once.

Finally, why can't the President/Vice Presidential nominations go to the top-two vote getting candidates? As far as I know, that's how the system was supposed to work originally -- and it's certainly a good way to put the strongest two candidates on the ticket. Otherwise, the VP slot (which does have an effect on the outcome among swing voters) is left to the caprice of the Presidential nominee, and is often dictated by political expediency or personal connections, rather than by electoral desire.

Just my two cents on the matter, but our political process does need major overhaul. In many respects -- electoral college, election to inauguration timing, campaign length -- the process is stuck firmly in the 19th century. Combining all of the state primaries into one super-primary is one way to bring things at least up to the 20th.

End of emailed message.

My dream, of course, is the "instant referendum" concept. That is, every elected official is subject to recall at any time; it just takes a certain plurality of "dump the bastard" votes, kind of like a film studio focus-group screening that uses those live meters where the audience can indicate moment-to-moment whether they like the film or not. Same thing with our legislators and executive; drop into the red zone and it's b'bye. Set up voting online, with an unbreakable, uncheatable method of making it "one vote, one person", and I think we'd finally have a way to make government truly responsive.

Then, outlaw political polls so they don't have any indication of which way the wind is blowing, and they'll have to act according to their own views or conscience. That would help weed out the bastards really, really fast.

Instant representative democracy. Now, combine this with live coverage of House and Senate speeches and publicly controlled electrodes in the podium, I think we could cut down on asinine legislation and really bad ideas from Congress pretty damn quick. And, face it, who wouldn't love to give the ol' joy buzzer to Tom DeLay or Bill Frist mid-sentence?

"And this is my proposal to create private Social Secur -- " ZZZZZZZ! "Ouch. Goddammit..."

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