Friday, August 10, 2007

The insanity of 2008

I have long said that our frontloaded Primary and Caucus calendar for 2008 was going to cause voter fatigue, and in a year when many people are dissatisfied with candidates it will simply cause voters in many States to stay home. What reason is there to go to the polls to select delegates to your party's Convention when the meat of the contest has already been decided in some earlier States? Further, if you feel you had utterly no say in the nomination of your party's candidate and the outcome doesn't agree with you, why should you vote in the General Election?

I don't personally advocate that line of thinking because I believe that everyone should make their voice heard in the ways in which our system allows. It is easy to see why someone would feel that way when the process could essentially be over by the first week in February.

There was a time-and it was a time not long ago-when States and State political parties were less concerned about who went first as they were about voting-period. Primaries and caucuses were spread out so that in a tight race, any State might have an impact, and some that thought they would often did not. The process was unpredictable and the primaries or caucuses were spread out so that you didn't know how the conventions would go until they happened. That could be seen as late as 1980.

I have grown to respect the custom of Iowa having the first-in-the-nation Caucus and New Hampshire having the first-in-the-nation Primary. It also makes historical sense for South Carolina to have the first Southern Primary. Fine. Who says everyone has to bunch up their Primary to be as close to New Hampshire and South Carolina as possible? State parties are complaining that they will be "forgotten." This is nothing but cheap jargon designed to convince the gullible that their State needs into this mega-Primary so that they could be in on the money pool. Few seem to have given any thought to what might happen if States said no to a mega-Primary en masse.

States that now complain of being forgotten or having no influence really won't have any with the coming Super Tuesday on February 5th. Candidates will not have time to visit every State or to interact with the voting public. Instead those of us who will be voting on February 5th or sooner will be bombarded with television campaign advertizing right around Christmas. The very thought just makes me want to deck the halls with boughs of holly.

Because South Carolina is intent on keeping its first-in-the-South status, it moved its Primary to January 19th after Florida moved to January 29th. New Hampshire law dictates that its Primary must be at least a week before any others, but it must also be on a Tuesday, which would mean New Hampshire would vote on January 8th. Iowa law says that the Iowa Caucuses must be held at least eight days before New Hampshire, and since New Year's Day is a holiday, and Hawkeyes are are unlikely to caucus on New Year's Eve, they could vote as early as mid-December, or (even worse) the Tuesday after Christmas.

I love politics-my wife has even said that I live for it. Even I have my limits, however, and when my limits for political exposure begin to be pressed then you know that it is too much too soon.

When the voting process for 2008 could begin in 2007, there is little doubt that the public will be fatigued with anything to do with politics long before September. This raises interesting questions for any of us who are considering hyper-local races in 2008: When do you begin to campaign in such a climate? How much campaigning is too much? How can you campaign effectively when people have been hearing "politics, politics, politics" since last year and they sure as Hell don't want to hear it from you? How will the lengthy Presidential campaign affect turnout and voting numbers for local races in November? Local candidates never had to ask questions like this with such frequency, but they will in 2008.

The record early start to the 2008 Presidential campaign is not only bad for the process on a national level because of the burnout that it will cause, but it could deal a terrible blow to the local process as well on so many levels. No one with any authority seems to care about that, and everyone seems to be content to let the process spin out of control.

By 2012, we may begin voting as early as October 2011.



At Saturday, August 11, 2007 7:52:00 PM, Blogger Fabian's straight talk said...

Hi David, I did not get a chance to talk to you today in Morristown but Linda speaks highly of you. Thanks for coming out and supporting our cause.


At Sunday, August 12, 2007 1:12:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

I was truly honored to be there, and I will have a full report on Monday. As I told Linda, I look forward to becoming more involved in T-FIRE's important work.


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