Wednesday, December 23, 2015

AS IF WE COULD EVER RETHINK THE IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE CONTESTS, EVEN IF WE WANTED TO

A couple of struggling Republican also-rans are trying to appeal to New Hampshire voters' better angels:
... as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Jeb Bush grasp for some way to dissuade the proud New Hampshire electorate from supporting Mr. Trump, they are turning to a new, blunter instrument: guilt.

“America is counting on you,” Mr. Christie said Sunday night in [Peterborough, New Hampshire]....

“There’s 14 of us today,” Mr. Christie said of the Republican field. “You all will take us from 14 to four or five. And those four or five are the only ones Americans are going to have to choose from other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. You have enormous responsibility.”

On Monday night, speaking at the Christmas-bedecked American Legion hall in Alton, Mr. Bush picked up where Mr. Christie left off.

“New Hampshire has a special place in our democracy,” said Mr. Bush at his 27th town-hall-style meeting, alluding to its tradition of holding the first primaries, shortly after Iowa’s caucuses. “I, for one, will entrust the voters of New Hampshire to make this decision disproportionately more than any other place. I’m totally confident that you all will maintain your position as first in the nation, that you will be discerning about this.”

... Mr. Christie did not deny that he was in effect telling New Hampshire voters not to send their reputation for discriminating tastes in candidates down the drain.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” he said, again invoking how much the “country is counting on them” and noting their “huge responsibility.” ...

“You’re the answer,” said Mr. Bush.... “The question is will New Hampshire want to support a guy who might tarnish this extraordinary reputation that you have...."
You know what? New Hampshire voters don't care -- or maybe they do care, but they certainly don't have to. What are we going to do -- deprive New Hampshire of the right to hold the first primary? Nobody's ever figured out a way to do that, just as nobody's ever figured out a way to deprive Iowa of the right hold the first caucus.

A lot of us would like to change this system. Why should two small, rural, lily-white states have this level level of influence on how we select presidential candidates? Why do the residents of these two states get to demand multiple face-to-face encounters with every candidate over a period of a year or so, while most of the rest of us get TV ads at most? But if anyone makes a move to threaten the two states' precious privilege, the states will raise holy hell.

New Hampshire might make a bad pick? Hey, the state picked Pat Buchanan over Bob Dole in 1996, after coming fairly close to giving Buchanan an upset victory over sitting president George H.W. Bush in 1992. Did the state's primary status suffer? Not at all, any more than Iowa suffered after unelected religious-right extremists Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum won the last two Republican caucuses.

We defer to Iowa and New Hampshire. We yield to their mighty power. If their contests were later in the calendar, lazy elite journalists would have to discard far too many readymade clichés. State fair butter cows! Flinty independents at diners!

It's all tedious, but we can't quit it. We'll always do it because we've always done it. Christie and Bush can threaten New Hampshire voters all they want, but New Hampshire voters know we'll never take their precious firstness away.

5 comments:

Victor said...

Our media love easy political horse race stories that are like kid's jigsaw puzzles - simple to put together.

And that's what those two states offer.

Who would want to deal with NY and CA if they were the first two?
Nobody.
Hell, even if the first two states were IL and CO, no one in the media would want that.

Better to let the political horse race narrative build, and then call the stretch-run, when it'll be easier to spot the potential winner.

Starting with the bigger states would reduce the field too quickly.
Better to let the quirky smaller states weed-out the losers.

retiredeng said...

Somebody's got to be first. Why not Iowa and New Hampshire? It never seems to make a difference. Even if they pick the winner first by accident. What galls me is the media's incessant hype. We never get a rest. Every two years we have an election and right after it the media starts the hype again. It's boring and most folks like me tune it out.

Unknown said...

Okay, okay, everyone take a seat. No, not that way, Irving: keep it up & you'll be on report sure, mister. Shiela, we're ahsking PLEASE stop doing that to the boys or we'll have to speak to your folks again. The rest of you, settle. I said, SETTLE! Now...announcements: we're to say that whoever it was thaht stole all the fia extinguishuhs, fun's fun but we need them bahck now, so I'm authorized to say if they're returned by noon tomorra, there'll be no police investigation. Also, the mayah and the chief constable police are saying no more using rooftops for weekend snipa practice. Finally, as any of you who still watch TV or are able to read may know, we're holdin' the state prim'ry Februhary 9th, so mahk your calenduhs. Josh, will you PLEASE stop snappin' the back of Hilda's head with thaht rula! Anyway, as I was sayin', the GOP prim'ry's set for heah on Feb 9, and layta today some of the second tia cahndidates, looks like, lemme read this heah...yep, they're all gov'nahs, pahst or present, not from HEAH, but still. Anywho, the gov'nahss...Christie from New Jersey, Ohio gov'nah Kaysick - that's his name Eddie, not a conditional statement - and, I'm pretta sure a Bush, George Senyah's boy John, I reckon,, they'll all be comin' in straight ahfter the p.m. recess. What's thaht, Cha-lene? I understand they're all gonna ask you folks vote for them, and rahfrain from actin' out like a bunch of ignorant tom fool yahoos and poo-flinging baboons in voting for ... let me read this again; yep: that human viral cyst, Donald Trump, or thaht cretinous zoo'd out Ben Cahson, or the feller with that crazy Grampa Sam Dracula mask ... hold on: I'm bein' told that's no mask. Anywho, they's all gonna ask you to stop actin' like human be-ins who feel betrayed by theyah pahty an vote like good reliable obedient Rahpublican sheep, uh, votahs, cuz they's outsidahs watchin'.

mlbxxxxxx said...

It actually makes a lot of sense for the first states to be small ones. It forces the candidates to do retail, one-on-one politics and to at least eyeball some regular folk. Also it provides an opportunity for a breakout candidate like Jimmy Carter who probably never could have been successful starting in, say, Pennsylvania or New York.

But it doesn't have to be the same fucking two states every goddamn cycle. There are lots of small states that could serve the same good purposes. It'd be great to see what would happen if candidates weren't required to pledge allegiance to ethanol, for example. Maybe they'd pander to Big Sweet Potato down in Mississippi. We know they're gonna pander, it'd be nice to get a little variety, though.

Nonetheless, as you say, it isn't going to happen. Election season always reminds me of Christmas because of the hoary, often meaningless, crap that always has to happen and seems to make the pundits just as giddy as when we were kids decorating the tree every year. That said, we did get rid of the execrable Iowa straw poll this year, so that's something.

Ten Bears said...

East of the Rockies is New York to me.

Ain't nothing out there I need.

As in: doesn't represent me.

Don't give a damn.