To paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, the Republican presidential nominating contest is nasty, brutish and long. Not to mention costly. The contenders are exhausting themselves, their bank accounts and the public’s patience. Low voter turnouts are evidence of how fed up the public is with the endless campaigning and tasteless attacking. And that’s just from one party. It would be unbearable if both parties had nominating contests this year. That’s likely to be the case four years from now.
Can we be spared? It’s not too soon for both parties to get to work to prevent further political damage. Or for the press to highlight the problem and point out that choosing candidates needn’t be so painful and debasing.
Among other things, the parties should be ruthless in preventing states from holding caucuses and primaries simply to bask in the limelight. Iowa and its caucuses should be sent packing. For much too long first-in-the-nation Iowa has lured candidates to its hog lots simply to satisfy the state’s craving for attention. If Iowa throws a temper tantrum, so be it. This, too, will pass.
If party-bigwigs succeed in convincing states to scrap the existing system, they will need to come up with a replacement. How about a return to the smoke-filled room minus the second-hand smoke? Professional pols might do a much better job of picking presidential candidates than the amateurs who have no expertise in sizing up political horseflesh who now select the presidential candidates.
Undemocratic? That’s essentially the system that for generations chose the nation’s leaders, including such giants as FDR. True, it produced some clunkers, but no system is perfect.
Speaking of undemocratic, the selection of vice-president is in a totalitarian class by itself. The party’s presidential nominee simply gives the nod to somebody, no matter how unknown, unqualified and inept, and presto! the person is a step away from the oval office.
A mature democracy ought to be able to do better. Just as it ought to produce something more coherent than the current mishmash of a presidential nominating system. Party bosses, get to work!!