Joseph Stalin, the 20th century Russian dictator, is reported to have said that it didn’t matter who controlled the voters what mattered was who controlled the vote counters. In this year’s Republican presidential primaries and caucuses that certainly is becoming the case. The first caucuses in Iowa were won by Romney - Oops not exactly. He won on caucus night according to the state Republican headquarters but when all the paper ballots were eventually rechecked it turned out that Rick Santorum had won. This announced some week after Romney got the full media benefits off being proclaimed the first winner.
Now we have the results of the Maine caucuses. The precincts in Maine are allowed to set their caucus dates and at least one county delayed to Feb. 18th when it was hit by a sever snowstorm this past Saturday. The Republican state party has declared Romney the winner of the caucuses by 194 votes based on 84% of the caucuses. The party leadership holds that if you didn’t get the results of the straw poll into them by Sat at 6pm the results don’t count. As for the snowstorm county too bad you don’t count either. Sure helps to control the vote counters.
Money today owns our politics and our politicians. We always saw millions buying ads and paying for campaign expenses as a way to dominate the process. Now large scale multiyear contributions to those who control the counting can also have its benefits. Of course these caucuses use paper ballots and the aficionados of paper, the Luddites who fear machines, say that paper guarantees an honest count. I beg to differ. Paper ballots are more prone to chicanery - to loosing the paper, to smudging the ballot and now we just delay reporting returns. It’s not easy to lose a machine or erase an electronic cartridge secretly. I would rather trust the firmware inside the direct recording electronic voting machines used in my county of Delaware (Pennsylvania) than the paper coming out of a box being counted with some sheet of results being phoned into a state headquarters.
Is this any way to choose the President of the United States - the leader of the free world? No
We need a national direct election with nominees being chosen in national (or five regional) primaries with standardized rules as to a ballot access and with minimum percentages need (40%) to win or we hold a run-off. What would be so bad about a possible four votes: Primary, Run-off Primary, General Election and run-off election? The likelihood of those four occurring in one year not strong but if so why is so bad for the American people to focus on who should be their President four times and focus as a nation voting for the one elected official who represents the entire nation. Instead we use primaries that are based on states, counties and congressional districts to allocate delegates to conventions that haven’t really picked the candidates in sixty years.
Patrick Henry said back at the time of the Revolution - We are not Virginians, or New Yorkers nor Massachusetts men we are all now Americans. He was right and we should vote like Americans in a national election to choose our leader. And while we’re at it let’s change the term of office to six years with a single term limit so that the Congress (which should also be term limited) has no incentive to emasculate the President.
12 February 2012