One of my favorite things about American politics is the Punditocracy's resignation to ridiculousness. Fundamentally unjust and undemocratic aspects of our political system are treated like a wacky uncle at Thanksgiving dinner. "Isn't the electoral college just zany in way that removes power from the public at large and places it the hands of "swing states" and unaccountable electors intentionally unbound to those who voted for them? Ha, and now it's spilled it's wine again. What a nut!"
On caucus eve, I can almost hear Chris Mathews giggle as yet again world energy policy will be held hostage to the economic desires of a handful of Iowa farmers who are irrationally given a massively disproportionate influence on the national politics of the most powerful nation on earth. Oh, the wackiness
I have a idea: let's not do that.
Now is the time for change as other states have finally taken a look a Iowa and said "Hey I'd like a massive disproportionate influence on national politics too!" and have threatened to move their primaries as early in the election cycle as Inauguration Day.
Luckily, I have a solution.
I present to you: The Primary Draft Lottery
It's a little bit of the NBA draft, a little bit American Idol, and a little bit of genuine democracy.
On January 3rd of each election year both Parties hold a lottery to see which 3 states will go first in the the primary. But the draft is weighted; the higher your state's voter turn out rate, the better their chances of winning.
The three lottery primaries begin the first week February with a week between each. After that, you have four regional primaries with the order of each again determined by the voter turnout rate of each region.
So, what would the Lottery accomplish?
1. The early primaries return to their function as a screening/getting to know you process rather than the current "We hold more power than God" status. Candidates will not be able to saturate the early States or put all their eggs in one basket. Sure each State will have it's particular issues but they will no longer have utter blackmail ability Iowa currently enjoys with ethanol. National elections will be truly about national issues. Remarkable!
2. It cuts the length and cost of campaigns. No longer will the media be able to cram as much useless crap down our throats two years before and election because the just won't have a much to work with. The crucial details are unknown. And since the campaign season necessarily starts later and finishes quicker, primary campaigns become cheaper and Mitt Romney won't be able to waste 1.3 billion dollars to lose Iowa, thus saving his great-grandchildren from a jetski-less existence.
3. Create a little excitement and motivation for every state. Who wouldn't tune in to see which state goes first? Which state party wouldn't amp up their voter drives in hopes of increasing their odds? It sprinkles in a little bit sports and pop culture and almost makes politics - fun! Parish the thought.
So, as you watch the returns role in tonight, keep in mind no matter who wins, it's high time to admit our crazy uncle primary system has moved beyond quirky and endearing, and crossed over into dangerous irresponsibility. We need to do the mature, difficult thing and and take away the keys before somebody drives America into a tree.