Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Coming Primaries

I've been flirting with writing something about Iraq, especially after reading this op-ed by the National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley. But I'm not going to do it. The whole situation is simply infuriating, and the only thing left to do is wait for this "new" strategy to go the ways of previous "new" strategies and then hope the Republicans bail on the President and the Democrats remember how to use the power of the purse. In the mean time, I would like to share a few thoughts on the upcoming Presidential primary season.

First, there has been much ado about the Democrats proposal to shift around the primary calendar. The big shift's primary change is putting Nevada (home of the Senate Majority Leader, hmmm...) in between Iowa and New Hamshire. It's not a bad idea on it's own; western state, moderate, labor, lots of things the Democrats could use more of in picking its candidate (not to mention running the whole operation).

This, however, has upset a lot of other states who got passed over. Several states have threatened to push their primary forward as well, compressing the primary season even further. The Democratic Party has rules against this, of course. If a state holds its primary in violation of DNC rules, the party can disqualify the state's delegates. This op-ed argues it should be against the law for the DNC to hold such power. While I agree with the idea that "party action" == "state action," I also know that the party will have an easy time in court explaining why it has a compelling interest in organizing the primary schedule (easier for the candidates, historical tradition, etc), where it probably had less of a compelling interest in excluding blacks. So I don't really think the law is going to help here.

What really gets me about the primary calendar is how Iowa (as the first) has been able to literally hijack the Presidency with regards to ethanol subsidies. The state has everything to gain from high subsidies, so I'm not surprised that their delegation pushes them with gusto. But the historical quirk that places Iowa at the front of the calendar should not allow them to blackmail presidential candidates.

So, when I hear that Florida and California, huge states with significant interests of their own, consider moving their primaries forward, I'm not the least surprised. If Iowa showed a willingness to select a candidate based on more then their own petty self-interest, then perhaps this wouldn't be happening. Instead, the early states have shown a willingness to push their advantage to the absolute brink. And now, here we are... the brink. If California or Florida push their primaries up, Iowa will respond by scheduling even earlier. And then the race is on.

I wonder, in a race between a small agrarian state and a state whose economy is the 8th largest in the world, who is going to win?

1 comment:

Dan Widmaier said...

ethanol subsidies for all!