Proposal on Primaries 1 of 3 : The Problem

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This is near novel-length and broken into 3 parts, so get settled into a comfortable spot with a cup of coffee. Girls, get yourself into a snuggie if you need to. Guys, if you get yourself into a snuggie, don’t ever tell me you did. ManCard™ forfeiture, pal. Sorry about the length. I just can’t cover this any more briefly.

The original proposal, 1.0 was In 2012: no more open primaries, a proposal, dated Jan 21, 2008, as that slow-motion horror movie unfolded to give us John McCain, the worst nominee since Alf Landon in 1936. This proposal was inspired by Jed Babbin’s column at Human Events Whose Primaries Are They, published that same morning. It was also inspired by the post-South Carolina departure from the race of Fred Thompson, the only movement Conservative in the first tier.

The revised, sharpened proposal, 1.1 For 2012 and beyond, a superior Republican primary system was published July 16, 2010, as the Tea Party Revolt was reaching Category 4, gaining speed, and preparing for landfall.

This is version 1.2. If anything, the unfolding 2012 primary race has shown us how spectacularly broken the process is, which can be described as “exactly like 2008, except worse”.

This proposal differs from 1.1 only in the margins, because…. well, because…. 1.1 was the proposal that movement conservatives should take into battle. Gain control of the RNC via Cold Warrior’s Precinct Committeeman Project, and have the RNC put this plan into play. So here it goes, a near reprint:

The 2008 Republican nomination process was an absolute miserable train wreck, the culmination of years of a worsening and chaotic system. In this case, it had already given us an inevitable nominee — too early, an unrepresentative and unsatisfactory candidate, with most of Republican America cut out of the process. I thought a better process could surely be devised. And now, watching the system crumble even further, Republican voters are in the mood to replace worthless people and processes with productive and vibrant ones. Starting with our own house.

So let’s start with the basic question. What is the purpose of the primary season as it exists today? The purpose is seemingly to select the Republican nominee in the general election for President of the United States, by a process whereby the Democrat-biased media, and voters from both parties in early purple states are given a groteqsue large amount of influence. What should the purpose be? For Republican voters to select that nominee, having had a fair chance to evaluate the candidates, all of whom have had a fair chance to make their case. I offer a proposal that achieves that end.

What is broken about the current nomination process
Who is in control of this process? Technically in charge is the national Republican Party. The Republican Party submits the candidate during the convention in which one nomiee secures a majority of delegate votes. The state GOP committees and state legislatures determine, with some boundaries, how their delegates are selected and apportioned.

As a practical matter, nobody is in charge. It’s a zoo, the monkeys are out of the cages, and they’re flinging poo at each other, while the RNC stands in the corner tsk tsk-ing at everybody, and wondering how it ever got this bad.

Seriously, the system is a complex system driven by multiple entities with often competing interests. All those groups have been allowed to grab whatever influence and control that they could get away with. The result is chaos, and that result would only by delightful accident produce a candidate satisfactory to the bulk of voting Republicans.

Witness the issues raised by the 2008 season:

  • Candidates declared campaigns virtually in the aftermath of the 2006 elections. The one laggard who declared 14 months before the election (instead of the requisite 22 months) was pilloried roundly by the press, by the other candidates, and by the right-blogosphere. And he was the man who should now be president.
  • Televised debates began, what, in July of 2007? Most of them were hosted by the left-wing press, and the fora and questions were distinctly unhelpful in helping Republicans get to know their candidates. About ten candidates got soundbite-sized time slots to answer left-slanted questions. Seriously, moderators like far-left, leg-tingling-for-Obama Chrissy Matthews? Questions from YouTube entries? Just stop it.
  • The heavily Democrat national media did the expected. John McCain was certainly their pick for the Republican nomination, and their coverage was mostly horse-race reporting, when they weren’t focusing on trivia.
  • With a September convention, the first primaries and cauci were in early January. Some of the states were punished for going earlier than the GOP mandated. Apparently they were not punished enough to be deterred.
  • The early states were mostly non-Red states open to Democrats and Independents to vote in (and they did). The principle thing they all had in common was that they were not bellwether states. None of them could be expected to be a reliable indicator of what the Republican voters across America would vote for. South Carolina, the 9th state to go, was the first reliably Red state — however, open primary. Nice going. After South Carolina, the decision was close to inevitable.
  • Super Tuesday approached rapidly – 4 weeks after the first primary, still not having had a decent closed primary in a Republican state. Nearly half of the delegates were designated on that day, 7 months before the convention and 9 months before the general election. Stooooooooopid. The deal was sealed on that day.
  • Every state after that, including big Republican strongholds like Texas, were superfluous.

Proposed solutions should address a few areas

  • The central truth of my proposal is that only Republicans should have a voice in who the Republican nominee is, and how the process is done.
  • There should be no presupposed notion that all Republicans must be conservative. RINOs are still Republicans. Northeastern liberal Republicans are still Republicans. But there should be a presupposed notion that Republicans in the most reliable states on election day deserve to be substantially involved in the process. Such is not currently the case.
  • The national party must be large and in charge of the nomination process. The national party can set standards and punish non-compliance by nullifying, reducing, or refusing to seat a state’s delegates. They should do so with gusto.
  • The time scale in which this is played out is unacceptable. It must begin later and end later.
  • A Super Tuesday is about the most moronic idea imaginable. There is something very healthy about a vetting process, where early, relatively low-stakes primaries weed out candidates whose organizations are weak, or whose message simply fails to resonate.
  • The predominant national media are a huge hindrance, a malevolent meddler in the Republican nomination process. They wield tremendous power in the current system, and they hate us. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they use their power to deliberately subvert the will of Republican voters. So we must cut them out of it — coldly, deliberately, and with deadly precision. We don’t try to cut them out of reporting it of course, but we cut them out of the control loop, out of the ability to control the dialog, and out of the ability to control the framing of issues for Republican voters. And we should enjoy doing it.

Coming soon (the links don’t work yet, silly!)
Part 2 : Proposal on Primaries 2 of 3: The Proposal
Part 3 : Proposal on Primaries 2 of 3: Rebuttal to the Rebuttals

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vassarbushmills
Admin
November 14, 2011 6:14 am

Right on. The conventional wisdom is that Mitt Romney will win the nomination because, running against five conservatives he can win a winner-take-all primary with as little as 25% of the vote, and in open primaries, with the help of the media and Dem crossovers, actually made to look like a knight on a stallion.

Now, who in the several state GOP’s will fix this? And who in the RNC will urge them to do so?