Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

New Hampshire's tradition of arrogance

I am getting really, really tired of these guys:
Democrats shook up tradition on Saturday by vaulting Nevada and South Carolina into the first wave of 2008 presidential contests along with Iowa and New Hampshire — a move intended to add racial and geographic diversity to the early voting.

The decision by the Democratic National Committee leaves Iowa as the nation's first presidential caucus and New Hampshire as the first primary, but wedges Nevada's caucuses before New Hampshire and South Carolina's primary soon afterward.


New Hampshire objected loudly to the lineup and has threatened to leapfrog over the other contests to retain its pre-eminent role.

"The DNC did not give New Hampshire its primary, and it is not taking it away," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said.

Secretary of State William Gardner, also a Democrat, emphasized again Saturday that it will be his office, not Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who picks the state's primary date.

"That's going to be based on state law, and it will be a date that honors the tradition," Gardner said after the DNC action. "It appears that he's in the driver's seat taking the Democratic National Committee on a collision course with the New Hampshire tradition."
The people running New Hampshire seem to think their state has a God-given right to anoint the Democratic nominee for president every four years. How dare anyone propose making the process more democratic! I mean, how dare they:
"It's pretty insulting and disrespectful to the potential candidates and to the people of the state that they're being threatened," said Gardner.
Being threatened?

Oh....that's right. It's not about preserving "tradition", it's about the tremendous business that New Hampshire enjoys every other election cycle.

I've got news for you, William Gardner and John Lynch. You and your constituents are not superior to anyone else. In this country we have a document which declares that all of us are created equal. You do not have a God-given right to be the first state in America to hold a presidential primary.

It's about time the privilege that your state has enjoyed for so long was taken away. Might I remind you this is our party's nominee, not your state's nominee. Your criticism of Governor Howard Dean, who represents the whole of the Democratic National Committee (which has elected representatives from every state) is outrageous and unfounded. It is clear that it is based on selfishness.

Your state had the arrogance to pass a state law basically declaring New Hampshire to be superior to the rest of the United States of America. As University of Virginia politial scientist Larry Sabato noted:
Why should two small, heavily white, disproportionately rural states have a hammerlock on the making of the president? Together, Iowa and New Hampshire are a mere 1.4 percent of the US population, and about 40 percent of their residents are rural—double the national proportion. Their average population of African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos is 3.6 percent, while the nation as a whole is 24.6 percent minority. Even if one assumes, incorrectly, that the two states are somehow representative of their Northeast and Midwest regions, the South and West (containing 55 percent of the country’s people) are left entirely out of the critical opening window of presidential selection [...]
How about we in Washington State pass a law that requires our state to hold our presidential primary a week before yours? Wouldn't that be something?

Snark aside, the system we have now for picking our party's nominee is unfair and broken. Sabato has identified a solution called the "Regional Lottery Plan". David Yepsen (the dean of the Iowa political press) has proposed another solution:
The two parties should agree that the first state allowed to have a contest in the nomination process will be the closest one in the last presidential election. The second-closest state will get the second contest, etc.

That way both parties avoid process fights and are starting their campaigning - and their candidates are expending their greatest efforts - in those states likely to be the most competitive in November.
The DNC ought to forge ahead in its attempt to shake up the process for the selection of our party's nominee. In the end, though, a permanent solution will likely require more - a constitutional amendment, an agreement with the Republicans, or possibly even a compact between states.

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