Rendering the conventions uselessThe Tennessee House of Representatives voted to move Tennessee's 2008 Primary from February 12th to February 5th by a vote of 91-2 yesterday (there was one abstention-that of Rep. Campfield). The proposal seems almost certain to pass the Senate and would surely survive a veto from the Governor, which is not likely to happen at this point. February 5th will be the day that a slew of States-including delegate-rich California, New York, and Florida-decide their Primary winner.
I know that most people in both parties favor moving up the date of the Primary for purely political reasons. Democratic Chairman Gray Sasser and Republican Chairman Bob Davis both say that it is to make sure that Tennesseans have an effective voice in choosing the next President.
While the decision to do this may have been politically expedient, I fear that in doing so Tennessee is casting her lot in support of a badly broken Presidential nominating system. The present arrangement makes it far more likely that the "annointed" within both parties will become the nominee. When the Primaries of major states are frontloaded in the way that we have managed to do, it makes it less likely that candidates will campaign at the grassroots level, and more likely that they will rely on the television to campaign for them. When all of the major Primaries are held on a single day, the people of those States are less likely to see a Presidential candidate. What's more, if Tennessee votes on the same day as a delegate-rich State like California, it does not make Tennessee more relevant to the nomination, but much less so. If I am a candidate and I have limited time and I am in a tight race, I am going to the State with the most delegates, and that is not Tennessee.
Our conventions have been rendered useless and the voice of the grassroots made moot by this system. Good for Reps. Coley and Kernell for voting no and good for Stacey for abstaining.
Labels: Presidential Election