Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Minor Complaint

A while back, I made a note about the upcoming election to the effect, "Wake me after football season." Well, that's proving to be a bit of a problem. This election season is beginning to look ridiculously front-loaded to the point that if I were to wait until after the Super Bowl to start thinking about things, the primary contest would be essentially over and done with. So, I need to give some thought to the candidates a little earlier than I'd originally intended to. But before that, I'm going to gripe a little bit about the schedule.

This is just slightly nuts.

A look at the calendar reveals that half or more of the delegates to each party's national convention will have been decided by the time polls close on February 5th. The national conventions aren't until late August and early September.

Can someone tell me why it's a good idea to have a five-month gap between the time when we know who the party's nominee will be and the national convention? Can someone tell me why such an insane amount of front-loading is a good thing?

Look: You know, I know, everybody knows that we're eventually going to have a national plebiscite primary system. It's going to happen by default, if for no other reason. I don't know that it's a good thing, necessarily, but it has it's own momentum and will be darn near impossible to stop. So let's try to think about how we can make it make some kind of sense.

There is no good reason for said plebiscite to happen in early February, with the general election in November. That's just a hair short of raving idiocy.

What would a sane schedule look like? Well, consider this: there's about two months between the national conventions and the general election. That seems like a good idea to me. Now, let's back up about two months from the nationals, and that sets a pretty good window for the state conventions. If the national conventions are in late August and early September, then the state conventions should happen in June, possibly early July. I think that most of them do take place in this time-frame already.

Now, prior to the state conventions, you need to hold local conventions. These can happen in April or May.

There is, therefore, no good reason for the national plebiscite to happen any earlier than March. Late March would be good. Early to mid-April would be a fairly defensible choice as well. This shortens the campaign season by a good bit, and lessens the extent to which the American voter succumbs to election fatigue. Not that this necessarily means that the campaigns will be more focused on serious issues as a result. No, they'll still engage in a race to the bottom with gusto and vigor, same as always.

But we'll have less of it to endure. That's worth something.