National Primary Day: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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Is California’s importance in the national primary election process minuscule in relation to our population and international economic position? Would you like to reduce big money in the election process? And does the whole thing go on for just too darn long?

If so, here’s an idea that could address all three concerns.

How about a National Primary Day? In the past, it has been argued that the country is just too big for the candidates to have those intimate moments with voters that some think truly matter, like the huge Sanders rallies or the recent Trump fly-and-land at the Redding Airport. The traditions of the Iowa State Fair mandatory corn-dog eating or the cozy mid-winter town hall meetings in New Hampshire are just so special, but do they really tell us anything? With a minimum of expense, could we not get all we want of the candidates via websites, YouTube postings, and maybe a few televised debates? How much carbon pollution does all this flying and driving around really cause, trying to reach the perfect photo-op diner or bakery where real Americans eat?

The current sequencing of primaries advantages some and disadvantages many, many more. Where you are in the order matters. The fact that a candidate is a leader in states # 1-2-3 very much affects how he or she is perceived in states 10-20-30. If the order were reversed, would the results be the same? We can’t really know, but this is an issue of simple fairness. And interest and involvement is sure to increase for voters for whom a race hasn’t already been decided before they even go to the polls.

We have reached the point where technology enables the candidates and parties to reach the voters with their positions on real issues at a minimum of cost – unless we are wedded to the show of useless mudslinging and name-calling. This messaging could take place in the first part of the year prior to a national election, with a National Primary Day in, say, April. The parties could have their conventions on the typical July schedule, and the (shorter) intervening time between April and July would allow them to campaign for any perceived inequities in the new process. Nothing in this proposal would preclude campaign speech at any time.

There has been a lot of complaining on both sides in this election season about super delegates, equal access to the debates, and of course, the overall cost. A National Primary Day has the potential to repair an admittedly flawed process and put the power back where it belongs – in the hands of the people.

Tom O'Mara
Tom O’Mara is a volunteer Civil Rights Advocate for the Redding Police Department.
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11 Responses

  1. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    For sure this idea is badly needed.  If only it were possible to convince myself that a nation gets the leaders it deserves and the outcome now would be different by a changed game plan.

  2. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Great theory, however, would a national, open primary pare down the numbers of candidates as the current method does, or would we be voting for, as was the case in this election, a dozen Republicans and six+ Democrats, none of whom saw a reason to drop out?  And if each of them received nearly an equal number of votes in the primary, what would the conventions be like?  Would they last for weeks until the delegates can back only one candidate? Would the conventions then be, in effect, taking the place of local primaries?  Or would we dispense with conventions and conceivably have the same number of candidates in the November election as there were in the primary?

    • Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

      A lot of great questions and shows the virtue of writing an article like this – it makes us all think! My main objective was trying to address the relatively inequitable place California finds itself in. This year seems unusual with the large number of Republican candidates. A national primary might not (or it might) have the same winnowing effect we have now, but the candidates could further distinguish themselves in the post-primary period, perhaps through debates.

      For the record, I wasn’t trying to favor any candidate or party. I’m actually looking for any candidate or party that actually cares about not adding to the national debt. Once again this year, I don’t feel there is an electable choice who is remotely interested in doing this.

      • Avatar EasternCounty says:

        Yep, where’s another Ross Perot when we need one?  He was the only candidate since I’ve been able to vote whose platform consisted of addressing the national debt and the cost of health care.  After all these years, those two monumental gulpers of money are still being skirted.  And it didn’t hurt having Vice Admiral James Stockdale as his running mate who, when asked about abortion during a debate, said, “It’s the woman’s choice. Period.”

  3. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Seems to me the $$’s spent on primaries are generated from donors and corporate folk. Not taxes per se. So what’s the problem with them spending money? If I give money to a cause, it gets spent in ways designed to generate votes. Seems okay with me.

    But what is interesting in your article, is the comment about Sanders and Trump fly-bys and the money involved. Well, Billy didn’t just ride in on a bicycle, did he? You didn’t seem to mention his little quickie-stop in Redding. Why not throw Bill in there, too? Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said “quickie”!


  4. Avatar Rod says:

    I think you’re right Tom.

    The current election cycle of circus acts,  is embarrassing.  Seems to me that the next cycle will be even worse.  The trend is for media and campaigners’ to continue to demoralize voters.  The system is broken,  it repels wannabe voters and old-timers alike.

    I have recently been asking friends and strangers, “Who do you want for president?”  “Who cares?” is the average reply.   So, I begin realizing the name on the ballot isn’t relevant.  Maybe we’ve evolved the system to where it’s entirely entertainment.


  5. Avatar Virginia says:

    Our election cycle is four (4) years.  Way, way too long.  Yes, one primary day.  But first limit the amount of time for it and the general election to take part.  Maybe 3 months from start to finish.



  6. Avatar jobs says:

    Sure Tom,  change the rules how the game is now played just because Trump is winning !

    Trump stock is up 35% today.


  7. Avatar Mimi Moseley says:

    That is quite thought provoking.

  8. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Here in Wyoming, we never see national candidates usually.  This year we have seen them all because even our minuscule number of votes mean something.  And what this year has shown, at least here in Wyoming, more people are filing for candidacy for city, county, and state offices.  Yes that is a lot of baby kissing, corn dogs ate and state fairs but more people are opting for politics.  That is a good thing.

  9. Avatar Terry says:

    I loved Walter Cronkite’s idea:  Campaigns are funded nationally, and every candidate gets to spend the exact same amount of money, and no more.  It would be interesting to see how elections went with that constraint.:-)