Publisher Larry Tobin's Ups-n-Downs column in Aug. 14 Tomahawk Leader:
I have an idea. I know, that’s scary. But I’ve been following with some interest the efforts of a lot of states to move up their presidential primaries “to give their states more influence in determining the candidates!”
So here’s my idea: Why don’t we hold our primary the day after the general election? That would give us the first shot at deciding who the next president might be. It would probably make the incumbent work harder to make correct decisions since the guy who will be running against him next time will be on top of his every move.
The trouble is, we’d have a four-year campaign to endure. It’s bad enough now. The election is still nearly 15 months away and I’m already sick of it. What do we have … about 20 candidates or so? There are two that I could accept as tolerable and the rest you could throw into a bucket and not come up with a good batch of catfish bait (and if you’ve ever fished for catfish, you know that’s stinky stuff)!
I know it reeks as undemocratic, but I dislike the primary system of choosing presidential candidates. I think the old smoke-filled room bartering produced candidates who were more acceptable to a larger portion of the electorate. The polls doing the selecting were at least aware of the need to find more middle of the road candidates.
What we have now is a system where the candidate representing the largest minority wins!
Consider the possibilities. Say each of the two major parties has 10 candidates running for president. It is technically possible for a candidate to win a primary election with 10 percent, plus one of the party vote. If that happened in both parties, you could have two candidates that 80 percent of the voting public can’t stand!
And you wonder why we end up with presidents that so few people actually like.
To go back to an election in which I actually wanted to vote for a candidate for president rather than for the lesser of two evils, I have to go all the way back to George McGovern. I know, I’m still embarrassed over that one. I even campaigned hard for him.
Over the years I’ve become convinced that the best government is one in which neither party dominates. For example, when we have a president or governor from one party and congress or the legislature is controlled by the other. That way, whatever gets enacted is usually in the best interest of the public, since both sides have to agree to it.
When one party controls both the executive and legislative branches of government, they simply become arrogant and whatever gets enacted is usually bad for the majority.
I also do not like Wisconsin’s primary system in particular. I would bet that, if a survey were done, very few voters actually vote a strict party line. Most people, I think, simply want to see the best candidates in any election.
In Wisconsin we used to be able to cross over in primary elections and vote for whoever the best representatives might be. Unfortunately the Democrats thought that Republicans were crossing over to vote for the weakest candidates. I know, I was working for the Democrats at the time.
Looking back on it, that idea is just plain stupid. I don’t believe anyone is willing to waste a vote like that. Like I said, most people want good government and that means choosing and electing the best candidates.
So, if we must have primaries, I’m for going back to the old way – open primaries that allow you to vote for the best candidate in either party.