Opinion » Letter From The Editor

The Four Primary Colors



By the time you're reading this, the all-important New Hampshire primary vote will have been completed. We'll all know whether the old white finger-pointing guy beat the young white gay guy who acts kinda like a Republican. Or maybe one of the two white women senators managed to move up in the standings and win enough votes to get "momentum." Or maybe the other old white guy — the former vice president — came out of nowhere and "beat expectations."

It's all so meaningless. As it's currently constructed, the presidential primary system is skewed beyond any possible usefulness, except to provide bloviation opportunities for the cable news outlets for a month.

The Iowa caucuses are absurdly undemocratic. Anyone with a night job or who has small children to care for or who is out of town or who lacks transportation to get to the caucus site is out of luck. Or maybe you're physically challenged and can't spend several hours arguing a candidate's merits in a local gymnasium. Or maybe you just don't think this is the way democracy should work. Tough. You don't get to vote in the Iowa presidential primary. Go suck on a corncob, loser.


As has been pointed out elsewhere, it would be difficult to find two states less representative of the current Democratic Party. It's almost like the Republicans picked them out to sabotage their opponents. New Hampshire is 94 percent white; Iowa, by contrast, is a bastion of diversity with 91 percent white residents.

People of color make up around 40 percent of Democrats, nationwide. I don't think it's an accident that when the first two primaries rolled around this year, all candidates of color had dropped out. The Democratic Party is killing itself with this system.

Imagine if, say, South Carolina, had gone first, followed by California a week later. Would the party have the same two front-runners? I seriously doubt it. Californian Kamala Harris would still be in the conversation, and so would Cory Booker, since South Carolina has a large African-American vote. Joe Biden might have started with a win. Who knows? If you started with those two states, the system would skew in an entirely different direction, and again, not necessarily one that's reflective of the party as a whole. The point is, singling out certain states to begin the nomination process is a bad idea, no matter what states you choose.

Billionaire candidate Mike Bloomberg, another old white guy, isn't even pretending to play along with the current system. That's because he's so rich he can ignore the primaries and just buy ads all over the country — and all over your Facebook feed. Bloomberg realizes that Iowa and New Hampshire are basically meaningless if you've got the money to ignore them. This ain't the way to get the best presidential nominee, folks. Not even close. So, I hear you saying: What's the answer, smarty-pants editor guy?

I thought you'd never ask. It's staring us in the face: Super Tuesday. The first one, on March 3rd, will feature 13 states, American Samoa, and Democrats abroad. Expand that process: Have four Super Tuesdays on sequential months, say February through May in the presidential election year. Tie the four Super Tuesdays to the four principal time zones in the U.S. and rotate who goes first every four years.

You'd have to tweak it to account for states with acreage in two zones. So give Tennessee to the Central and put Indiana and Kentucky in the East. Since the Mountain Time Zone is a little sparse, population-wise, put the Dakotas and Nebraska in with the other big-sky states. Add Alaska and Hawaii to the Pacific, and you're set. The Super Tuesday Quadfecta!

Candidates could focus on regional campaigning instead of blowing all their money in one state, which would dampen the Bloomberg effect. And there would be plenty of racial diversity and lots of urban and rural areas. Most important, a candidate couldn't become a "front-runner" by winning a single obscure state. After a couple of these regional Super Tuesdays, you'd have a pretty clear idea who the public favored.

Genius, right? I've only been pitching this idea for three election cycles, but nobody wants to listen to some schmoe in Memphis. I'm begging you, if you know DNC Chairman Tom Perez, give him a call. Tell him it's your idea. Let's get this fixed before the 2024 election cycle rolls around.

Assuming we have a 2024 election cycle.

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