Friday, March 07, 2008

The Will Of The People?

I have to admit it: I am a bit of a news junkie. I read some online newspapers, I listen to news podcasts throughout the day from four different sources (intermingled with my MP3 collection, of course), and I watch three different newscasts at night.

One thing that keeps getting airplay in this political season is the story of the voters disenfranchised by the Democratic Party in Michigan and Florida. (Or as the news keep putting it: "The Michigan/Florida problem.") I submit to you, however, it is not a problem with Michigan and/or Florida but with the inherent unfairness of the process that the Democratic Party has put in place for the selection of their candidate.

Don't get me wrong, the Republican Party's method is no fairer, and I am not a big fan or party politics period! I am very Jeffersonian in that respect. Jefferson warned that the newly forming political parties would be the bane of Democracy and freedom of choice and we now see that he had s positively prescient perspective on the problems of party politics.

But the problem here is two-fold. Not only do we have two parties bent only on gaining and holding power, but they perpetuate their power by the systematic suppression of any serious third-party. The second part of the problem is that the system that they have put in place for the selection of their candidates is inefficient, time-consuming, and inherently unfair.

Both parties have spread-out their primaries over the course of an ever-increasing span of time assuring that it will cost copious quantities of cash to run a successful campaign. Additionally, by spreading it out, many of the choices available to the earlier states are no longer available to the later states. Unless you live in Iowa, Wyoming, or New Hampshire you are presented more a fait accompli than a choice. Your choice dwindles the further from the start your state is.

Can you blame Florida and Michigan from wanting to be earlier in the process?

Having lived abroad, I can appreciate the problems with our electoral system all the more. In the UK, the whole process of the election that I was there for was over in six weeks. They also have dozens of parties to choose from as well as well as truly independent politicians. Now, I'm not proposing that we go to a parliament as they have; there are problems with their government too – let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater… but let's not keep the bath water! It's time to rinse off!

The obscene amounts of money spent over here would not be necessary if the primaries/elections tool less time. Sure there would be tons of advertising, but the amount of advertising in a given time span is finite. Dragging the process out this long just assures that there would be more that can/must be spent.

As far as what to do with the Florida/Michigan problem… well, that's a problem to be dealt with by the parties. Anyone interested in a valid third party?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you'll be active in the political process – whatever your personal political preference!

Don Bergquist – March 07, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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