Sunday, January 14, 2007
Consider This for January14, 2007—Who’s on first?
Abbott and Costello did a routine many years ago about baseball. It was called, “Who’s on first?” The recent presidential primary and caucus events remind me of a comic routine.
This is one you might want to cut out and tape to your refrigerator. You might even want to e-mail it to all of your equally confused friends and relatives. Election season is upon us and here is a brief discussion of why things happen the way they do.
Iowa and New Hampshire have laws that require that they be the first in the nation for Presidential Caucuses and Primaries.
All fifty states have some version of a Presidential Primary or Caucus.
Primaries and Caucuses only determine delegates to the national Democratic and Republican conventions and have no direct bearing on who becomes the next president.
Independent and third party voters are disenfranchised from this process as you must declare as a Republican or a Democrat to vote in a caucus or primary.
In our Democracy the current presidential primary and caucus system is about as undemocratic as you can get.
Colorado has its caucus on February 5 also known as Super Tuesday along with more than twenty other states.
Unaffiliated voters are the second largest group of voters in Colorado after Republicans and before Democrats. You cannot participate in Colorado if you are not a registered Republican or Democrat. All of you Independent or third party folks can take the day off and go skiing or sit at home and just be an observer because you are not allowed to play.
Our nation was formed as a federalist nation. In simple terms it means that each state is almost like its own country. It is what is commonly referred to as states rights.
Under our system each state can make its own rules when it comes to elections. We saw that in Florida in 2000 and when it could not be sorted out the decision on the winner of the election had to be made by the Supreme Court.
Iowa and New Hampshire have their election times in their state law. Both states have passed legislation that says that they will always be first each presidential cycle. If another state would decide to be first then both Iowa and New Hampshire would shift their dates to again be first. If it became a real nose to nose battle we could end up with presidential primaries and caucuses two years before the election rather than our current ten months ahead of the real election.
Now here is where it gets really confusing. Iowa has a caucus. A caucus is where you and your neighbors get together in a living room at your neighbor’s house and decide who you will support for president. But in Iowa the Republicans have a different system than the Democrats for picking candidates.
New Hampshire has a primary. A primary is run like a regular election with ballots and voting machines. It is much more efficient but it fails to provide the same coffee and cookies down at Mrs. Johnson’s house on caucus night.
Another thing is that the caucus or primary is only to decide which candidates will be supported at the national convention of each of the parties. It is normally only binding on the first ballot at the convention. After that it is a free and open process and the delegates can vote for Daffy Duck if they want to as they are no longer bound to the caucus or primary.
The real kicker is that the caucuses and primaries are only open to members of the Democrat or Republican Party. That’s right folks. If you happen to belong to the Prohibition Party you can’t vote. Ron Paul is a good example of that. He is a Libertarian but serves as a Republican so he can get in on the process.
I am convinced that the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary are both more media events and a test ground to determine who is willing to spend the most money and who is willing to drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of donuts in two very cold states in December and January. Neither event truly determines how the nation will go in the general election. A good example of this is that Bill Clinton lost in Iowa and New Hampshire and went on to win two terms as president.
So who’s on first? It was either Abbott or Costello. I can’t ever keep track.