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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