It doesn’t matter if you are a conservative or liberal, republican or democrat I think you would agree that the debates are broken and need to be fixed. The question is how to go about doing that? The good folks at Intelligence Squared US have an idea, get back to what the debates are supposed to be about, the issues and seeing if the candidates know them.
This isn’t about the sound bites you hear the candidate make time and again. This is the candidates knowing about a specific issue and being able to talk about it in depth.
I’ve been a big fan of the debates they put on and as I have mentioned before they are always respectful and thought provoking, no matter what opinion you have. If you have not listened to them, I highly recommend you give at least one a listen.
To that end the people at Intelligence Squared have created a a petition to have at least one Oxford style debate this election cycle. With our help they can get some civility back into political discourse.
This article seems to prove my point about primaries.
With the primary season about half way through (thankfully) there have been two issues which have bothered me. I believe these three changes would make the primaries more meaningful for those who are running and more importantly for those who are voting.
- Closed Primaries – I was amazed to discover how many states didn’t have a true closed primary. Meaning only if you were a registered Democrat or Republican would you be able to vote in the primary. For some reason the state parties (or state governments) believe their primary should be open in some way. This doesn’t work because only the people who have decided to sell identify with a political party should be the ones who decide the fate of the party. There is nothing wrong with considering one’s self independent and not in a party; however if you do then you need to understand you can’t vote in the primaries. I do practice what I’m preaching here. In NYC there is no way to really effect change unless you are a registered Democrat and therefore in spite of my not really having any ideological agreement with the party I am a registered democrat. This also will take care of anyone who just wants to create chaos and vote for the weaker general election candidate.
- Early Voting – I am not talking about absentee voting (if you will be away or are in the military). I’m talking about people who are too lazy to go to the polls on Election Day and are able to vote about a month in advance of the state’s primary. This is a silly thing to be because (a) the candidate you voted for might not be in the election any longer (E.G. Marco Rubio) and (b) late breaking news can change the way people think about the existing candidates. If you are voting early you don’t have the benefit of the later information. If we are going to have early voting, maybe the first past the post style needs to be changed to an alternative style
- Super or Undeclared Deligates – These deligates are designed to not allow the registered party members their full say in he election. They are allow to vote for who ever they want (usually the front runner) even though the rank and file of the party had other ideas. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is undemocratic and shouldn’t be allowed.
- Winner Take All – This is a bonus one because even though I would prefer this style of primary, I see the point a candidate shouldn’t be punished for winning a district but not the entire state. I don’t see a big need to change the way a large number of states award deligate. It’s just a personal preference.
These three changes would make big differences in the how effective primaries are in selecting the candidates for each party. Additionally it would restore fairness to the way primaries are set up.