by Jon N. Hall 8/3/15
Democrats are obsessed with firsts, as in first African-American president, first female president, first gay president, first transgendered president, etc. How about first non-American president? How about a foreigner like the U.K.’s Daniel Hannan or Nigel Farage for president? If I could appoint anyone on the planet to be president, I’d appoint America’s Undocumented Anchorman, Mark Steyn. But, alas, I don’t have the power to appoint the president. Besides, the Constitution requires presidents to be native-born. Which means Democrats will have to amend the Constitution so they can run the first extraterrestrial president.
For the highest political offices in the land, America hasn’t been getting her best and brightest. We’ve not just been settling for a cast of mediocrities, we’ve instead been installing crooks and clowns and those who seem to have some totalitarian gene in their DNA. We’ve elected extremists who call anyone who disagrees with them an “extremist.” We elect people who will say anything and do anything to get elected; so great is their need to be the “most powerful person in the world.” Assuming that the vote counts in our elections reflect our actual choices, this does not speak very well for us, the electorate.
Back in the 1960s and ‘70s one would often hear some scruffy leftist twerp proclaim that what’s wrong with America is “the system.” When it comes to how we choose our presidential nominees, that’s right: “the system” does not serve us well. The primary election system used by our political parties to select presidential nominees needs to be scrapped — or at least ignored.
Nominees should instead be selected at conventions. But, you object, we already have nominating conventions. Right, but those conventions have outcomes that are predetermined by the primaries. The conventions are merely rubber stamp affairs that ratify the will of the primary voters, whoever the heck they are. This all needs to change.
The selection of convention delegates is the key. Other than the selection of the president him- or herself, the selections of delegates should be the most important choices made in a presidential election cycle. Delegates shouldn’t be selected because of any commitment to a particular candidate, but because of their commitment to the principles of their party.
Convention delegates aren’t required to follow the primary voters off the cliff. If the primary voters have selected a loser, then the delegates should reject him or her and select someone else. If a party is nearing its convention and the polls say that the winner of their primaries simply will not win the general election, it should be the duty of the convention delegates to reject the choice of the primary voters and nominate someone else.
Furthermore, the delegates should not confine themselves to the other candidates who ran in the primaries; the delegates should have the freedom to draft anyone.
Some are saying that the Republican field in 2015 is so large that they need to winnow down the number of candidates. I say nonsense. Indeed, I would hope that there is no clear winner in the primaries so that the delegates will be forced to select the nominee. And they ought to consider drafting someone who didn’t run in the primaries, someone like Gen. “Jack” Keane or John Bolton.
I’m reminded of a line from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, when Crassus (Laurence Olivier) says that he “fought fire with oil.” If the Democrats are going to run their very flawed “first,” and the polls say she’s going to win, then that’s what the Republican delegates must do — fight fire with oil.
And that means nominating a woman. Luckily, the GOP already has a woman running, Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlett-Packard. I find this lady very impressive and I’d jump at the chance to vote for her.
But since I advocate “open conventions,” GOP delegates wouldn’t confine themselves to those who’ve been running; they’d consider drafting a woman who’s been on the sidelines. They’d consider drafting former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice. Republicans should relish putting Sec. Rice’s record at State up against Hillary’s. And because she studied the Russian language in Moscow, I’m confident Miss Condoleezza would not screw up the translation on a “reset” button.
And I ask: Why not Laura? I don’t mean the wife of a certain former president, although that would be another tantalizing symmetry, I mean Laura Ingraham. Laura is a solid conservative and would make a terrific president. I’d love to see her tear into Hillary in the debates.
Truth be told, there are many Republican women who would be far better for America than the Democrats’ “dragon lady.” And these conservative gals are younger, nimbler, more accomplished, and smarter than Mrs. Clinton. America needs her own Margaret Thatcher.
I’m not suggesting that folks not vote in the primaries. And I’m not saying that the Republican field is weak, quite the contrary. What I’m trying to say is that the primary system is a lousy way to find the best candidates.
In “The Presidential Primary System and What to Do About It” I floated this idea six years ago at GOPUSA; it’s now up at StubbornThings. The article is short and makes additional pithy points for you to ponder. (Try not to be put off by my use of “the editorial our”; I avoid that kind of thing nowadays.)
Since I wrote that article six years ago, primary voters have been responsible for losing a lot of general elections for the GOP. Republicans might have taken back the U.S. Senate in 2012 were it not for primary voters. Here in Missouri we had the case of Todd Akins who said some dumb things like: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I urged the “write-in candidacy” of Sarah Steelman. But that failed and Missouri, a state that never backed Obama, got a senator who was one of his early supporters. Thank the primary system.
Parties exist to save voters from themselves. Convention delegates need to be able to do an “intervention” and override the selections of primary voters. A year from now, delegates to the Republican convention may be facing a hard choice: go down with the primary voters or do something bold.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.