Links to parts 1 and 2 are at the bottom. I trust that you know to read the first 2 parts before reading this one.
When I posted this in 2008, there were some people with opposing ideas. It was quite a healthy discussion. I am fine with people having ideas that conflict with mine. However, I like this plan, from top to bottom. I see no substantial flaw, and the only thing keeping it from being enacted would be the failure of leadership at the RNC.
- But what if some candidates ditch the RNC debates and go to the ABC/MSNBC/YouTube debates? You will get 100% compliance from the candidates. I guarantee it. Suppose Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry (for example) skipped the RNC debates and went on a series of major media debates, while Bachmann, Romney, Cain, Huntsman, Paul, and Santorum did the RNC circuit. So Perry and Gingrich go to 10 debates where they are asked about global warming, gays in the military, and lowering taxes on the wealthy. The other 6 go to 5 debates where they are asked how they would fix the economy, cut down on the regulatory stranglehold on businesses and employers, how they would undo the Obamadamage on trade and in foreign policy; what are their tax ideas, and how to lower the debt and deficit. Who do you think will persuade Republican voters more? Plus, if you skip those debates in favor of the media, the Cain and Bachmann ads just write themselves. Not only that, GOP voters will be highly resentful, since we’ve had all we can stand from the leftist media. That candidate will be wiped out in the first two real primaries, which will be in deep red states. To skip the RNC debates and go with the left-wing media is campaign suicide.
- But there would just be softball questions. OK. Seriously. Close your eyes and try to imagine Rush Limbaugh asking a softball question. Picture Thomas Sowell failing to cross-examine every candidate’s fiscal and tax policy. Or maybe you think Megyn Kelly will ask if they are “surprised, enchanted, troubled, or humbled“. You are high if you think these people are not going to mercilessly grill these candidates, to explain contradictions, and to frame answers within Constitutionally defensible positions. The thing you can be sure of is that they will ask questions and cover issues that Republicans care about.
- But the state Republican Party doesn’t control primary dates, especially in blue states. Fair enough. But it won’t stop the state party from sending delegates to the convention, selected in a fashion of their choosing. The Republican Party can ignore the primaries, or not have a Republican ballot at all. In many states, if they are willing to fund them, they can get state approval for their own primaries on a date of their choosing. If there are no practical options at their disposal, they can choose delegates in the old fashioned way via Iowa-style caucuses. It can be done on a shoestring budget too. Caucuses may not be strictly democratic, but they have their strong points too, and they have a way of rewarding candidates that have a strong ground game – a highly useful thing for the general election.
- But the list of states eligible to be the first two primaries is about 6 states. Actually this cycle it is 13 states. For 2012 that list is Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. What’s that you say? Mostly redneck states? Yes that is right. Mostly states where people respect the National Anthem, where they love God and country. I can’t imagine a finer bunch of states to choose from to be our first two bellwether primary states. Faithfully Republican, for the most part. What, you want Iowa and New Hampshire?
- But I would prefer a national primary day. Good for you. I most emphatically do not. The vetting process provided by earlier primaries will weed out the weaker candidates and candidates who are not representative of Republicans. We will get to observe them on the trail, how they respond to success and failure, how well they raise money, how they handle the leftist media. Such skills and organization are required for the general election. Eventually the field is narrowed down to two, and then one. A single national primary day deprives us of all those things. A single national primary also leaves us very susceptible to splitting the conservative vote among 4 conservatives, and having the one moderate wuss win the whole thing on one day with 30% of the vote. No way will I ever support this.
- But a candidate must have cross-over appeal, and this system would fail to account for that. First, nobody who is not a Republican deserves a say in who the Republican Party nominates. That is a moral absolute. I dare say better to die with a captain we are willing to fight for. But second, shutting the Left out from the debates and from participating materially in the votes is a far cry from Republican voters and candidates being ignorant of crossover appeal. You can be sure the national media will constantly be polling the primaries, polling various Republicans against various Democrats in head-to-heads, how they poll among independents, blacks, women, men, and so on. And not just the left-wing, but also Rasmussen. Plus, all candidates have their own private polling services who are brutally honest. Republican primary voters will take into account many factors; among them, their view of a candidate’s electability. It will hardly be a secret what a candidate’s cross-over appeal will be. But even still. If, in the end, American Republicans choose their Mondale, their unelectable candidate, we will have done it with eyes open. So be it.
This plan can be implemented. The RNC, if run by strong and conservative people, easily has the power to enact and enforce this plan. The only weakness is that the RNC has for decades been dominated by establishment types who would just as soon not have conservatives picking the nominee. Our ColdWarrior, with the Precinct Committeeman Project, is leading the movement that will remove that obstacle sooner than you think.
Further, this plan is sensible, pragmatic, and equitable. I can’t deny that I enjoy that it pokes a finger in the eye of that national partisan left-wind media machine, and cuts down their influence in framing the issues and defining the candidates for the voters.
But at the end of it, it puts Republican voters in charge. That is a very good thing.