The primaries method has proven to be excessively expensive and divisive in the modern media age, and largely ineffective in nominating the best candidates.
While I agree with you on the charges of divisiveness and ineffectiveness, I’m not so sure about cost.
I just saw a report the other day that showed the cost of the nomination hasn’t even kept pace with inflation over the last fifty years or so.
I think it would be better for all of the primaries to take place on the same day, which is preceded by a year during which there is a ban on all political advertising in the electronic media and press.
What’s the point of that? The problem is that the electorate is already too ignorant of the candidates and the issues — a year long media blackout, followed by the primary elections is guaranteed to end up worse than high school student council elections. You’d end up with the guy who has the best head shot winning. Derek Zoolander for president? I suppose he’d be an improvement on Santorum, but that can’t possibly be what you’re after.
As it is, we are making the most essential characteristic (without which there is nothing) for a future president be his ability to raise campaign funds. They say Obama will be raising a $billion. I think there are much more important selection criteria.
But campaign fundraising — under some reasonable conditions — is a reasonably good proxy for the candidate’s worth. It’s not as if the money comes from his own pockets — he has to go out and convince people he’d do a good job in order to get their money.
Right now, we have a problem in that those reasonable conditions aren’t enforced. When the Supremes declared anonymous campaign contributions to be free speech, they made it possible to simply buy an election. Back before the Citizens United decision, there were limits on how much an individual contributor could give. Put those kinds of limits back in place, and campaign contributions start to look like votes — it’s not one-man/one-vote, but it’s a reasonably faithful proxy for it.
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