OUR HORRIBLE SYSTEM: GET USED TO IT
Isn't it a good thing that we're starting to recognize the awfulness of our way of picking presidential nominees? Isn't it terrific that, as AP reported a couple of days ago, nearly eight in ten Americans oppose the disproportionate influence of Iowa and New Hampshire?
Well, no, not really. There's grumbling now, but it's no different from the grumbling about the Electoral College that took place after Al Gore beat George W. Bush by half a million votes. What happened after that? Absolutely nothing.
I could also mention the frustration of Naderites who said that if there'd been an instant-runoff voting system in 2000, votes for Nader wouldn't have hurt Gore. Hmmm -- whatever happened to that groundswell of grassroots support for IRV?
Here's the thing: It's highly unlikely that any of these systems will ever be reformed, for the simple reason that nobody is angry enough about them to want to spend months, years, maybe a decade or more, in an all-consuming struggle to change them. In each case, there are people who'll dig in their heels and defend the status quo; by contrast, few people will want to put their lives on hold to fight for reform. And that's what it would take -- that plus an alternative to the present system that could withstand the objections of defenders of the status quo and of sneering pundits, who don't see much need to reform the system because politics for them is mostly sport rather than the way democracy happens.
Oh, there is one thing we could try, at least in the case of Iowa and New Hampshire: straight cash bribes.
I'm not joking. The two states aren't going to give up their privileged status unless they get something in return, so why not bow to the inevitable and find the cash -- a lot of it if necessary -- in general tax revenues or party funds to rescue our system? I guarantee they'll fight to the death otherwise, and win. I think it would be money well spent, just because, once in my lifetime, I'd like to have some small say in who gets to run for president, and I assume you'd like that, too.