As you sit down to read the paper this morning, know that as you enjoy your first cup of coffee your future is being decided by others far away. It is being decided by those in a state that has more livestock than people.
The Republican presidential primary cycle begins in earnest today in Iowa. It will culminate this November with our vote for someone to lead this country for the next four years. Too bad for millions of Californians and tens of millions from the other states in the Union who will have little, if anything, to say on the person best able to serve in the nation’s highest office. This expensive and ridiculous process will likely do more than anything else to reduce both voter interest and turnout
For the lucky few that round out the top three in Iowa, it will be on to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida (unless the Sunshine state does some last minute maneuvering and moves up its primary date). More TV, more radio, more town hall meetings, maybe a few debates, then it is likely to be over — mostly before it even began. I know, there might be a pretender that hangs on for a few months — long enough to negotiate the payoff of campaign debts or to drive up those post-election speaking fees. The victory lap will have been run before the end of February. Too bad for the other 50 million voters that might have wanted to have a say in this year’s presidential election! Hey look on the bright side, you still have a chance to vote in November, right?
Now I am not sure who the candidate will or should be. There is Romney, Gingrich, Paul, Bachmann, Perry, Huntsman, and Santorum. All with something to offer, all with some baggage. Maybe one has the plan to fix this ailing country, maybe none do, but the fact is I would sure like to exercise my constitutional right to choose among them. Not just to validate the last man or woman left in this crowded field.
Our presidential primary system is broken. If we wish to encourage Americans to go out and vote, we must provide the opportunity of choice. The system should be revamped to ensure an appropriate amount of time for understanding what the candidates have to offer. Then on a single day, say, in July, we should hold a National Primary Day, where in all states voters go to the polls and vote for their choice of candidate.
It will be said by some that the present system has worked for many years and there is no need to change it. Certainly those in Iowa — and perhaps those in a few other first-round states — believe they have the God-given right to be the first in the nation. They at least believe in the status quo of the primary election cycle. But really, why Iowa? There’s nothing wrong with Iowa of course. (Full disclosure: my late father-in-law, whom I greatly admired and loved, was Iowa-born).
It is more important that we give all voting Americans every opportunity to select the best candidate among all those seeking the highest office in the land. If not, we might as well just let the cows vote in the primary season and the rest of us can wait until November. Really, there’s nothing wrong with Iowa.
Jon Edney is a former El Centro City Councilmember.