Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Michigan Primary: giving politics the underhand.

I may end up voting in the Michigan's Republican primary come January 15, but only because the party I usually support has taken any choice away from me. But I don't blame the party. I blame Michigan.

Perhaps you know that the modest states of New Hampshire and Iowa (who's combined population only equals half of Michigan's) always get first dibs on selecting presidential candidates. It's been that way since early last century, starting with Oregon in 1910, and now candidates face off in the coldest months in blustery states each presidential election season.

The problem some people have is the states chosen to go first. What's so special about New Hampshire and Iowa? Why do their primary and caucas hold so much weight?

Part of it is history. Since Truman got his butt kicked in New Hampshire's 1952 primary, that state has held the title of potential president-maker. Granite State primaries used to be held in March (featuring a lot more sane timetable, if you ask me), but they move it back each year to be first. Now it's held in January.

But Montana and New Jersey are last, and by then everything is pretty much decided. So now Nevada, South Carolina, and our own Great Lakes State has challenged Iowa and New Hampshire for primacy - tackling the same issue that Super Tuesday voters wrestled with as of 1988. Why leave it to mostly rural, mostly white states to pick a party's contender?

Michigan voted to have its primary moved up to January 15, thereby sprinting past Iowa and New Hampshire to be the first in the nation. And because of that, most of the Democratic nominees dropped out of the race. Their names won't even appear on the ballots - and only Hillary Clinton is offering her name for the primary. The Republicans? They're hanging with us. Mitt Romney is heavily canvassing his home state just to try the whole thing out.

So, as a registered Democrat, my own state's move into first on the calendar punishes me. And now it's not even first in nation; New Hampshire moved theirs to January 8. We could be voting on candidates in December next time around, which is madness.

I'm in favor of tradition when it comes to politics, and I had no problems with Iowa and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation status. It's been that way since I was a kid, and yes there are problems with it (as well as alternatives), but it's something to look forward to each election season.

The Electoral College? NOw THAT'S an issue to tackle. But for now, the primary system works for me.

Which is why I plan on voting in the Republican Primary this time around. Much like our primary two years ago for Representative, the Republican side is just more interesting. And if offers me more choices than my own party. My vote could help swing a Republican victory for a candidate I can stomach.

That means Rudy and Mitt won't be getting my vote. But McCain or Paul? Count on it.

This is actually how John McCain beat Bush in 2000: more Democrats switched sides for a candidate they felt comfortable with. Because I don't feel comfortable with Guiliani, I plan on voting for someone else. It's my own state's fault. Blame not the voter.

And besides, the national Democrats might strip Michigan of its electoral votes, leaving our state worthless in country-wide politics. Michigan's bold move ended up solidifying New Hampshire and Iowa's supremacy.

Meanwhile, I'll wait for Mitt and John and Mike to campaign for my vote - because me and others like me may end up swinging the entire GOP race on a cold day in January.

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