Why Primaries Suck
It is a mark of a fanatic to think all evils are caused by a single problem, but if there is a single problem responsible for the incredibly bile driven government we have today it could easily be primary elections.
The problem with primaries is that they filter out the very candidates most Americans would prefer to have in office. After all, who votes in primaries? “The base”, that's who. “The base” simply being a polite phrase for the rabid fringe partisan lunatics out on the left and right margins. And who gets elected in the general election? The ones who make it through the primaries, that's who. The ones overwhelmingly elected by the lunatic fringe. The “basest” candidates, that's who we get.
Naturally, come every election cycle, the candidates all try to “appeal to the base”. But even rabid looneys still have a small particle of brain lodged in their skull. If there is a phoney candidate making phoney appeals to “the base”, and a real rabid moron speaking from his heart to “the base”, the base can tell the difference. They'll elect the real rabid moron every time.
Once we get to the general election, we are faced with the task of selecting the least rabid of two rabid morons. And no matter which rabid moron we pick, we'll still be sending a rabid moron to Washington to “represent” us.
What happens when packs of rabid morons get to Washington? Plenty of bile spewing, but certainly nothing that comes close to leadership. The only thing the rabid packs care about is getting reelected and preventing the opposition morons from getting credit for doing anything. That seems to be a pretty fair description of the government we have today.
Can we fix it? Probably not. After all, the rabid morons in office were elected using the system we have now. They don't see anything wrong with it. A system that got them elected must be in flawless working order.
But if we could fix it, I would love to see any form of the several possible “instant primaries” replace what we have now. The simplest being the ability for the voter to rank his choices. If his first choice doesn't get the the most votes, then his vote is switched to his second choice, etc.
The advantages of this system would be enormous. Not only does it save money on elections, but no one has to appeal to “the base” anymore, and “the base” no longer has a way to prevent reasonable moderates from getting on the ballot.
In the Presidential election, we wouldn't have to vote only for the candidates New Hampshire leaves us. We'd actually have a choice as a nation about who we want for President.
With no primaries to draw out elections, the whole painful election cycle would surely contract into a much more reasonable time frame.
But most important of all, we couldn't be scared into voting for the candidates the two party machines want by dire warnings about taking votes away from the saint and letting the boogeyman get elected. We could vote our hearts with no fear that those votes would be wasted (which has always been a silly argument anyway, since close to half of all votes always turn out to be wasted anyway).