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Friday, August 03, 2007

Fixing the Presidential Primaries (Part 2)

Darren and I went back and forth on the presidential primary system. Yesterday was Part 1, here is Part 2. Darren's in blue, I'm in red.


Darren: I would not make a case for a national primary system for the reasons you soundly outlined. I would if candidates were granted a minimum of ad time in all districts. I would also like to set some limitations on campaign spending, but then we get into the tricky issue of free speech. So, to answer your question, I am not advocating for a national primary.

I also agree with the problem of Iowa and NH having too much influence over the candidates' policies. Candidates have to pander to the most important issues in those two states to even have a chance on the national stage; corn and taxes. It doesn't seem fair to the rest of the voting public for the politicians to alter their messages based on sample populations.

In order to create an environment where the candidates can be more open with the public about their issues, I suggest a rotating regional primary system composed of 5 or 6 (or more) regions. This would allow candidates to speak to a broader public about issues they want to focus on, not on issues that will only get them votes.

Thoughts? Criticisms?


Ian: We're close. I don't think having Iowa then New Hampshire then South Carolina was 100% ineffective. Let's not forget what that system did bring the table: A) Under-funded candidates had an opportunity to compete and B) Uber-funded must still meet with John Q. Farmer and Stephen C. Wageworker, or else risk losing to said under-funded candidates.

To break the country into six voting regions would halfway solve each problem we've discussed, but also ensure that each of the problems remain. An under-funded candidate, though not as much as in a national primary, would still get killed in ad-buys across a region and numerous television stations. And an uber-funded candidate, while not having the complete ability to sit back and let money do the talking on the airways across an entire nation, would still be able to target several big cities in these regions as they come up and wipe out the little guys.

(Besides, who's not to say Iowa actually does speak for the midwest farmers and New Hampshire does speak for the Northeast liberals and South Carolina does speak for the southern conservatives? Are not those constituencies getting say through one of their representative states? Are not candidates having to speak to the issues of that entire region when they go to those singular states?)

Therefore, again, we halfway solve those problems, but each of those problems halfway remain. So what's my solution?

We rotate the early primary states. My suggestion would be rotating five different opening states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Oregon, and New Mexico. Tradition is kept with the front three. All regions are represented. None of the states are too big. Most importantly, this is rotated, so one state cannot keep its political influence. Therefore, in 2008, Iowa is first. In 2012, New Hampshire is first and Iowa fifth. In 2016, South Carolina is first, New Hampshire is bumped to the end. And so on. I think in twenty years, after the shock of Iowa and New Hampshire not always being first is worn off, we can choose five new states and redo the process for the next twenty years.

I have more thoughts on restructuring the primary process, but I'll stop here. What do you think?



D: All great points. Underfunded candidates still struggle in the current primary system so, to me, that point is moot. Even if they do do well in the primaries, the uber-funded candidates have the means to increase their ad volume in order to win that states' primary. You could also argue that the underfunded candidates are underfunded for a reason - because not enough of the public supports his or her message or platform. Personally, I feel this is due more to media coverage than anything else but that can lead us into a whole other topic.

My central problem with the primary system is not with letting individual states have primary votes, but with the influence that the populaces of those states have over the candidate. Why do we have a system where Iowa votes, then New Hampshire, then South Carolina, then we have Super Tuesday?

I like the idea of having a rotating state primary system, but I'm still skeptical having the population of one state influence a candidate's platform/message so overwhelmingly. Splitting the country up into regions/partitions would alleviate that influence, but as you said, it would also alienate under-funded candidates. As I mentioned before, this speaks more to the media's role in the political process, rather than the primary system itself. As you soundly pointed out, John Edwards would be struggling heavily if it were a regional primary system. Why? I think it's got to do more with a female candidate who happens to carry the Clinton surname and an ambitious African-American candidate.

I still think having more than one state vote on the first few primary days would be more beneficial than having single states vote. Splitting the country into regions doesn't necessarily mean that the states have to be bordering or in the near vicinity. Why not have groups of states from all locations of the country vote on the same days and have say 6 or 7 or X number of primary votes, then rotate those groups?


I: The answer to your final question I already addressed: To spread the first primary across a half-dozen states would effectively eliminate all but one or two candidates from contention, evidenced by examples at the end of this section. I understand that it's difficult for the under-funded candidates to contend as it is, but they have a much better chance with a state by state vote than a region by region vote. So to eliminate the power of Iowa and New Hampshire, I propose rotating those early states. Keeping the early state by state system, but eliminating the consistency of the early states. That's the ticket. It addresses your primary problem (influence of early states) because the same state wouldn't be first in the next cycle.

If you'd like, I'll go one step further: The primary schedule will not be decided until, say, one year before the general election. That forces candidates to appeal to the entire country until only two months before the first primary, when they will then scramble to get to that state and woo those voters, but by then, their platform must be solidified. Retail politics survive, with small time candidates having a chance to win over voters, and one or two states don't get too much attention for election cycle after election cycle. This doesn't effect fundraising much, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich aren't counting on Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire for raising the bulk of their funds.

To address one more of your points: You asked (rhetorically, I think) why Edwards wouldn't compete if there were regional primaries or a national primary. Your answer was because of a woman and a black running against her. Does that make them inherently better candidates for the party or for the country's head of state? Of course not! So how is that good for America? Many make the case that the reason big money candidates have big money is because they're the best candidates, but I don't think either one of us believes that.

However, this gets down to the problem at hand. Most candidates who are not yet eliminated under the current system would be under regional primaries or a national primary. This is best evidenced by Bill Clinton, whose second place New Hampshire finish resuscitated an almost dead campaign. A national primary in 1992? Bill Clinton is not the nominee. Regional primaries in 1992? Bill Clinton is not the nominee. (This happens throughout history. Most recently, Howard Dean would have won in 2004, not John Kerry.) And, of course, Clinton went on to be a two-term President who most consider successful, especially his own party, who almost didn't nominate him.



D: I do like your idea about having the rotating state by state primary but have some questions. Who would set up the schedule for the rotating primary system? Would both parties have the same schedule or adhere to completely different ones? I'm not completely sold on your points about underfunded candidates not being able to handle regional primaries. I do understand that it would be more expensive for them, but my main point about that had more to do with the effect of the media influences on the public. Regarding John Edwards, I was not implying that Hilary or Barack were better suited to lead the country, only that the media is choosing to focus more on them because one is a woman and one is black. I don't think you can not argue that the media has played a crucial role in advertising these two candidates. The more that journalists focus on these candidates the more popular they become to the public equating to more support. We know that the candidate with the best ability to lead is not always nominated, as evidenced by the Republican primary votes of 2000 and 2004. Clinton was a great president, but we don't know if Harkin or Tsongas would have been better. It's a truly hypothetical situation. Would Clinton have been better if the Republicans hadn't taken the White House back in 1994?

I still advocate for a national primary, influenced by an article that a friend sent which can be read here. The primary would be national yet it would be based upon proportional support for candidates. Each congressional district would vote for candidates but to offset the bias that has been created by gerrymandering, the two candidates with the most amount of votes in each party would then be nominated as presidential candidates. Why must there only be one candidate from each party? It's a whole new ballgame with four presidential candidates, two each from the major parties vying to be chosen as the president. Again, the presidential election would be held by districts, whereas the candidate with the largest amount of popular support would win the Executive Office. After the election is certified, the President selects his or her Vice President. I understand that this transformation is a radical shift from changing only the primary system, but I feel that overall it would be the most effective at securing the popular vote.


I: Earlier I said, "I have more thoughts on restructuring the primary process, but I'll stop here," and you just asked the questions that allow me to share those thoughts. Who would do the schedule for this primary system? The National Committees. One of my biggest problems with the current set up is that each state gets to decide when their primary is. How long did we expect the larger states to sit back and let Iowa and New Hampshire decide simply because it was tradition? This cycle, twenty states moved up to the first week of February, and Nevada and South Carolina tried to leap frog New Hampshire, so New Hampshire tried to move up, putting it in front if Iowa, which mean Iowa had to move up to stay first. This could very well lead to a December, 2007 primary.

Therefore, there needs to be a centralized decision by a body on what the order will be. The National Committees should supersede all the state parties. Therefore, the DNC should order the Democratic primaries and the RNC the Republican primaries. To answer your second question: the two committees can absolutely make different primary schedules. Of course, there will need to be rules, such as the home state of a candidate cannot be before Super Tuesday, as well as the most populous states should be barred from being before Super Tuesday. With a centralized "decider" in place, my rotating state system can work.

The proposal outline in your last paragraph, though being a completely unrealistic shift from the norm, is worthy of consideration. I don't think all of the possible detrimental consequences have been accounted for. I'll chew it over for a while and we'll revisit it some other time.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Fixing the Presidential Primaries

Darren and I were at it again this week. Here's Part 1 of our email correspondence on the presidential primary system. Darren in blue, me in red.


Darren: I wanted to talk about changing the current primary system? What's your position? Are you for or against the current setup?


Ian: No doubt about it, the primary system in this country is in dire need of a shape-up. I know you have similar thoughts. What do you think should be changed?


D: Agreed. The primary system needs to be completely revamped. The states that hold their primaries first (Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) wield an unequal amount of political power and sway over the politicians. These states are also extremely influential over the rest of the voting populace. But do the citizens of Iowa have the same needs or political desires as those in east Texas, Los Angeles, or Cleveland. Are these states so representative of the American population, that they deserve to be able to influence the rest of the country's nominations for President?


I: No, they are not. For years, when it was Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states in the cycle, it was clear that these overwhelmingly white, rural states did not accurately represent the desires of the entire nation. (Nevada has now been thrown in the mix, which alleviates 10% of the problem of the format.) This is a problem because whoever took the early lead after these primaries usually went on to win because people love voting for whoever's in the lead. But I must ask this: if someone from the tenth primary state has their vote affected by who earlier states voted for, how dedicated were they to their original candidate in the first place? It seems that they should not have had their minds changed so easily by Iowa.


D: In our previous discussion about the voting habits (Editor's note: linked here) of Democrats versus Republicans, we said that Republicans (in general) tend to vote in a more unified manner, so as to give their party, not just the candidate they support, political control. It's quite possible that after the populations of 9 states have voted for the candidate they want nominated, someone in the 10th would analyze this as a decision representative of the whole (the whole, being here the primary voting population of that persons political affiliation). Why wouldn't that voter think to his/herself if the majority of voters in 9 states before me want candidate X to be the party's candidate for president, maybe they have the best chance of winning the White House. This begs the side question, is it more important to vote for your party in the Presidential race or should you vote for the person whom you most relate to? Going back to your example though, don't Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have the most decisive influence on the voter from the 10th primary's choice? If what you say is true, then these three states have been shaping our elections throughout the modern era. If I infer correctly from your analysis, you think we shouldn't change the order in which states vote because people who vote in later primaries will always have their votes influenced? Does this mean you advocate a national primary?


I: I answer with none of the above. I think a national primary is a terrible idea. I also think we should change the way the primary system is run. My solution is coming later, after I articulate the problems with the above systems.

Let me start with the latter suggestion. Iowa and New Hampshire have garnered way too much prestige and influence in the primary format. On the surface, this appears unfair because they get much more attention every four years than later states, and this of course leads to politicians spending more time the there, and they shape the election for reasons we've outlined. But it goes beyond that. Early primary states have influence every year, not just presidential election ones. The most glaring example is Iowa's most important issue. Could a presidential ever come out against ethanol and compete in Iowa? No way. With an issue as important as energy, why should the fact that Iowa's tradition as the first caucus play a role in this country's policy? It seems unwise domestically, internationally, and politically.

A national primary is also a bad idea. This would absolutely eliminate small money candidates. I understand small money candidates have little shot as it is, but in a national primary, it'd be all about the money. John Edwards would be out of contention right now if it was a national primary, as would all candidates with less money than him. Is an automatic two-candidate fight good for politics? It might even be limited to one candidate. In 2000, John McCain and Bill Bradley NEVER would have made a run at Bush and Gore, respectively, if it was a national primary. They counted on success from early primaries to make something of their candidacy, as are Edwards, Romney, Thomson, all of the second and third tiers, and to an extent, Barack Obama. Clinton and Giuliani's national leads are much more difficult to overcome if the whole country votes in one day.

Would you make the case for a national primary system?



Part 2 tomorrow, where we dissect the national primary system.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Presidential Politics banter Part 2

A continuation of the July 17 emails. (Part 1 yesterday.) Darren in blue. Me in red. This should not be mistaken for political affiliations.


Ian: I assume you meant Dems in general and not these three candidates.

I think, when it comes to domestic issues, both sides are pretty genuine. I mean, a lot of people disagree on universal health care and abortion, whether they're politicians or not. There's enough of a faction on both sides of the big issues for a candidate to be elected regardless on which pole he resides. Therefore, you say what you believe and try to find a district that will elect you.

The gray area comes in when you try to soften your language to appeal to a broader constituency. If Giuliani is talking to Democrats in New York, he says that a woman has a right to choose. If he's talking to Republicans in South Carolina, he says it should be left up to the states. Is that flipflopping? I'm not sure.

One thing is for sure - truth serum in these candidates would be a lot of fun.

Which begs the question, of all major presidential candidates, which is being the most honest about what they believe, regardless of political implications? Which most champions the issues that mean the most to them?



Darren: Yes, I do mean Dems in general. I don't think it's flip flopping unless the issue is being raised and discussed on a national issue and the candidate is wavering. Truth serum. I would love that.

As for your question, I have to say that on the Democratic side, I think Obama is sticking to his guns and is dealing with issues that he sees as fundamental. For the Republicans, it's gotta be McCain, and Ron Paul, but I guess he doesn't count. Paul can afford to tell the truth. McCain couldn't and look at what happened. I think there are probably some issues where he may change his message, depending on the audience, but I don't think he's revising that message to assuage different groups of people. Hilary seems genuine on some things and on others not so much. I think Edwards is probably the least genuine. I'm not so sure about him. The $400 haircuts aren't a big deal, especially in the age of personality politics and looking-good-for-voters. Since 04, he's kind of done some shady things, like that job he took at the financial firm that foreclosed loans or whatever. Not exactly helping to alleviate poverty.


I: People who care about the poor are allowed to be rich. Look at Robert Kennedy, and to a point, his more famous brother.


D: They served their countries in various governmental positions. I never said he's not allowed to be rich. Read this and this. And then tell me you believe every word he says?


I: I'm not at all troubled by those articles. The first was ingenious. Is it bad that Edwards furthered his presidential campaign by helping the poor? What's wrong with a win-win? Besides, if he wins, he can do a lot more for them anyway. The poverty issue has never been a vote getter. I think he's as genuine and charismatic a politician there is in this race, he just doesn't look like he's supposed to be because he's a brilliant, good looking white guy with a $400 haircut.


D: I'm not saying he wouldn't hold true to his promises or again I will reiterate that it's bad to further his campaign or be rich and campaign for issues of poverty. He lived the experience. But, 1. How does he not know the hedge fund he's working for gets into subprime loans? 2. A lot of poor people were made poorer because of subprime loans. 3. Regardless of his sincerity, he looks hypocritical. 4. I think he's not as genuine as wants us to think.


I: All right, if a Democrat feels the way you do, at what point does electability become an issue for a Democratic voter. Edwards matches up the best in head-to-heads against the leading Republicans, while Hillary Clinton matches up poorly Obama not as poorly (basically, the exact opposite of the national polls for the Democratic Primary). At what point does a Democrat voter get desperate to take back the White House? Might Hillary's unfavorables in a general election still play a factor in a Democratic voter's mind in the primary? On the flipside, for the Republicans, Rudy Giuliani is not the perfect conservative candidate, but it's more likely he'll beat a Democrat compared to say, Mitt Romney. So, what are your thoughts here: Would electability influence your primary vote?


D: Electability influences the average primary voters in every way. The top three candidates are vying to be the most electable to the Democratic population. Once the winner is chosen, their message will soften and move closer to the center to make the candidate more electable to the national population. They downplay their unfavorables and play up their favorables. We live in the era of personality politics where electability counts above all. I don't think the average voter looks at the head to head polls to see what Democrat matches up best against the potential Republican candidates in a national election. It's the candidates job to try to persuade the voters that they are the most electable.


I: Did you mean that electability in the general election "influences the average primary voters in every way?" If so, how could they possibly avoid the projected head-to-head polls? If the candidate hasn't persuaded the primary electorate that he/she is the best candidate to win the general election, then we're both implying that could really hurt them in the primary. Therefore, poor numbers against candidates of the opposing party would seemingly be a death knell to a campaign.

Let's take a look at Clinton and Giuliani. These two national poll leaders are very interesting in regards to electability. Clinton leads the national polls for the Democrats, but thus far, is considered the least electable of the Dems' Big Three, and that issue could be her ultimate downfall once Obama and Edwards prey on that in December and January. (The reason they wait is obvious: bringing that issue to light now gives the Clinton campaign six months to change the minds of Democratic voters.) Meanwhile, for the GOP, Giuliani leads, but he matches up the best against the Democrats, and that issue, more than national security and foreign policy, could ultimately garner him the nomination. (Worth noting: He leads nearly all head-to-head polls against Clinton.)

First, tell me this: would you rather your dream candidate get the nomination with a 40% chance to win the general election, or would you rather your third or fourth candidate get the nomination with a 60% shot to win the general election? Second, is that a question the average primary voter asks themselves?

D: Very interesting questions. I just read this great series where Bill Clinton described the voting habits of the American public, "Democrats prefer to fall in love with their candidates and Republicans fall in line." I think Bill is exactly right. Dem voters choose who they connect with most whereas Republican voters choose who will advance their socially conservative agenda best. One major criticism of the Democrats (which can also be seen as a positive) is that they are too varied in their stances on issues. Republicans basically have the same agenda. You can't really stray too far from it because the base won't vote for you (which is what I think we'll see happen to Giuliani). I was talking about electability in the Democratic primary, which does translate to the general election. Those head to head polls influence the candidates and the ways that they campaign, but I don't think they necessarily influence the primary elections in the way you say they do. Hilary's unfavorables were there before she started campaigning. It's now her job to convince voters otherwise. I really don't think Democratic voters vote for who they think will win the general election. I think they vote for who they see as most in line with their personal issues.
I: You stole my thunder for my next topic - the voting trends of each party. I think the risks are too great for the Democrats to nominate anyone but their best chance of getting a Democrat in the White House. I'm not saying Clinton doesn't have a chance to win in November, nor am I saying Obama or Edwards have a better shot than her. What I am saying is that if it becomes clear one of those candidates avail themselves as the most electable in a general election, then the Democrats would be wise to vote for that person. Do you realize only one Democrat in the last forty years won with more than 50% of the vote? Republicans have more success in campaigns for precisely the reason Bill Clinton outlined.
So what do you think about Democratic tendencies to be more spread out in their support of candidates and be myopic in the primary process? Hasn't it hurt the Democratic Party? I mean, if it wasn't for the President, the Republican Party would still control both houses of Congress and be pushing through the Republican agenda. Meanwhile, Democrats might still not know how to win elections (It was the general consensus that the GOP lost in 2006 more than the Democrats won).
So if Democrats can't figure out how to look at a candidate and their electability in a November election, they deserve another loss. To stubbornly stick by a candidate and swing for the fences every time results in a lot of striking out. To nominate a candidate with the greatest chance of winning and then string some hits together and score a few runs down the stretch, that's the smart play here. After all, could a Clinton supporter be that upset with an Edwards Administration? Would an Edwards fan be that inconsolable if President-elect Obama is putting together his cabinet? The answer to both is no. So why not find which Democratic candidate could do the most damage in a general election and nominate them?


D: Great points - I completely agree. Why not nominate the candidate who has the been chance of bringing the party back to the White House? I think the Democratic voting population is definitely more varied in their issues than Republicans. In general, Republicans want a social conservative to provide a socially conservative agenda and transform the nation. Democratic voters have different needs and wants throughout the country. The best candidate the Democrats can nominate to win the election and be the most effective leader is Hilary. Obama offers a fresh perspective and hope. If either of these candidates win the Democratic nod, it's highly unlikely that they win the general election. Edwards certainly has the best chance to give the White House back to the Democrats. Why? He's white, male, and from the South. In a general election, I think independents (who have more influence in the g.e.) vote with what makes them feel secure and comfortable. Sadly, that's a white male as leader. If what I just said is true, why then, is Edwards trailing Hilary and Obama? Democratic voting tendencies tend to be much more spread out than Republican. Republican politicians barring the Northeast and Southern California are pretty much generic in their platforms. A Democratic politician in the South is completely different than one in New Mexico who are both different than the one from Chicago. Democrats seem to be disorganized in their voting tendencies because voters priorities are much more varied and diverse than Republican ones.
I: Right. It's significant that you, a non-Edwards supporter, realizes that Edwards has the best chance to win in November 2008. However, as we've now articulated ad nauseum, the average Democratic voter is myopic in the nomination process. They want, they need, their perfect candidate to be nominated. The reason Edwards is trailing Clinton and Obama is, because, in the Democratic Primary, being a southern white guy is not an advantage. How could Edwards possibly be a more progressive than a woman or an African-American? It seems counter-intuitive, despite Edwards' liberal agenda. At the same time, if he were to get nominated, that counter-intuition would work in his favor, as conservatives and independents, like you correctly outlined, would find themselves drawn to Edwards' traditional looks and Clintonian potential. His liberalism wouldn't scare away nearly as many voters as Clinton's or Obama's liberalism, for obvious and unfortunate aesthetic reasons.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Presidential Politics banter

This email conversation happened two weeks ago on July 17th. Darren and I discussed many things about the upcoming race. To differentiate our emails, I'll put Darren in blue and myself in red (no political allegiances with the colors).


Darren: I could definitely see this leading to a strong Republican-esque Independent candidate. This may actually be a good thing. I could see Brownback stealing a lot of the conservative votes from the more moderate leaders like Giuliani and Romney. Thoughts?


Ian: Don't forget, Romney's a conservative now. I've maintained the GOP will not nominate Giuliani, and with McCain a mess and Thomson a paper tiger, they'll flock to Romney and he'll be strong. More importantly, he'll be conservative enough to keep a third party conservative out of the race, because they know such an entrance would be handing the White House to Hillary f'n Clinton.


D: Romney's definitely a conservative but I think a lot of Christian evangelicals may have trouble voting for a Mormon, no matter how often he spells out his commitment to Christ. I think a lot of Christians see Mormonism as fake, which is why they are probably having trouble voting for him. Plus he's from MASS! The bastion of liberals. I think it's really interesting. We could see an extreme right candidate and an extreme left candidate (relative to the others) in Obama get nominated and have a centrist win. Gore/Bloomberg all the way?


I: Gore's no centrist.

We're generally on the same page. The Republican nominee won't win the nomination as much as be the last person standing. Basically, they won't win the nomination as much as his competitors will lose it. Which one of these candidates' negatives is the least detrimental? I think it's Romney and his Mormonism.

On the flip side, the Dems nominee will have to win it among three very viable candidates. I think Democrats love their candidates this year; the Republicans do not like theirs.



D: Exactly, I agree. Gore isn't a centrist, but I'm unsure of his ability to win the Dem nod now. I think he'd be better suited as an independent candidate, with a strong veep like Bloomberg. I think a lot of people would vote for those two over a Brownback/? combo.


I: Does Bloomberg fund himself as a Vice-Presidential nominee?

Brownback goes back to the Senate if he doesn't get the nod. Do you think he honestly wants to see the Clintons in the White House instead of Romney? A comparison cannot be made to Nader or Perot, the former who didn't think he could affect an election and the latter who didn't care if Bush lost.



D: Bloomberg won't fund himself to be veep but I don't think he can resist teaming up with Gore. Brownback (naively) has more confidence in himself as a prominent conservative Senator than fringe candidates like Nader and Perot. I also think he doesn't care about giving Clinton the White House because he wants to give conservative evangelicals what they want (which is him in office).


I: Fair enough, but does Gore run third party? Surely he's not as naive as Brownback and realizes the Democrats cannot have another Republican in the White House. Although, come to think of it, the new President would still be preferred over President Bush, especially in foreign policy.


D: Brownback would actually act in Darfur, which would be a HUGE improvement. I think Gore could run third party because I think he's so passionate about global warming and the environment that he will do anything to get in and try to change domestic policy and set the global agenda on the issue (which is what we should be doing no matter what). We are analyzing this from a rational outsider's perspective. We have to think about what drives these people to seek roles of leadership, ultimately, ego and to an extent the confidence they exude in the issues they stand for (as some would call "courage of conviction"). Why does Nader consistently run as a third party candidate, when he MUST know that he will not only never win but never get 5% of the vote to gain public funding?! 1. Ego 2. The principle (again, here we could substitute courage of conviction). I'm sure there must be other Green Party candidates that could be just as, or more, viable than Nader. Perot was pissed off at the status quo and at what he saw as an attack on middle class values. According to Wikipedia, Perot was born to a Texas cotton farmer. He was never upper class even though he had money and I think he saw the political elite as an established cancer on the middle class and what the American Dream stood for. I think he knew he couldn't win but he didn't mind spending his money to shift the national debate.


I: Great points all, except Nader is not your average irrational politician. The guy flies coach on places, for Pete's sake.

I think Gore is already getting people to pay attention to the global warming issue. His movie won the Academy Award. If he runs, he's in it to win it, not to bring the issue to light.

Brownback might be a step or two (or ten) above President Bush for many Americans, but Democrats cringe at what he might try to do socially to our country.



D: Oh, I think Democrats would do anything and everything to keep Brownback out of office, even though, you're right, he'd be way better than Bush on FP.


I: Call me crazy but, of the announced Republicans, I think Democrats would least hate a Huckabee Administration.


D: I think you're right, he's not overly pretentious with the Christian values. Democrats still don't trust most Repubs farther than they can throw them. Now that you mention his name, he's probably got a better chance than Brownback of getting the nod. More executive experience as governor, good positives to Christians, could probably lay the national security on thick to attract the rest of the Republican base. Good call.


I: You think a governor has a better shot to win on national security than a U.S. Senator?


D: Yeah. Think about it. He directs the National Guard, he's got "executive experience" running a relatively poor yet medium sized state. Remember the other governor from Arkansas beat the incumbent President (all be it with a little 3rd party help). Senators have a much harder time winning national elections because they mostly talk in the Senate whereas Governors act in their positions. I also don't think those two would be hyping national security as much as Giuliani is. They're going to talk about Christian values, family values, social issues more so than foreign policy or national security. Republicans already have the reputation of being strong on terror and all that BS. Why do they need to prove it to their own base? We know the reason why Rudy is talking up nat. security - because he's liberal on social issues and will get creamed once the base starts to focus on that.


I: Agreed for the most part on the strengths of the executive, but I'd argue the one area a Senator has it up on a Governor is national security and foreign policy. A governor sees no intelligence reports and makes no decisions outside of that state. A governor never has to look at the big picture like a Senator.

Of course, no Senator has won since Kennedy in 1960, so it seems as if all the gubernatorial advantages have outweighed the senatorial one. Still, it seems to be our first national security election without an incumbent President or Vice-President since 1928, so there's not much precedent to work off of.


Also agreed on the Republicans' strength in national security. It's just the way it is. And the Democrats are strong on domestic policies.



D: Good points. This is definitely one of the more interesting elections in the era of modern presidential elections and definitely the most exciting in our lifetimes as of yet. This question is kind of abstract and definitely depends on the politician, but it also showcases my cynicism; How genuine do you think Dems are on domestic issues?


Part 2 of the email conversation tomorrow. See you then.
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