OPINION – Turn out the lights, the party’s over.
What started out late last year with a couple of straw polls and evolved into something that, at least for a short time, held promise of a little drama, ended Tuesday with a resounding thud as Texas pushed presidential hopeful Mitt Romney over the top in his bid for the Republican nomination.
For Romney, of course, it means he gets to take a break from the rigors of campaigning for enough delegates to make it all official when the Republican Party gathers in Tampa, Florida in late August to seal the deal.
But, for many voters, it’s like dropping the flag after racing 350 miles at the Indy 500, or declaring somebody as the world’s fastest human for a blazing time in the 80-meter dash. It’s a race incomplete.
The beauty of a primary election is that it forces candidates from both parties to go out on the stump, shake hands, kiss babies, and listen to the needs, wants, and desires of the voting public. During the election season, the voter gets to be the squeaky wheel for awhile, holding the attention of a candidate who is courting their vote. But, unless a candidate knocks on your door, how can you tell him what’s important?
As usual, Utah was snubbed again this year.
Most of the Republican primary ballots will be gathering dust before Utah goes to the polls on June 26. But, the Beehive state is not alone. California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota also have yet to go to the polls.
Romney will, of course, make a few token appearances here and there, even though at this point the remaining primary votes are as meaningful as a Justin Bieber song. His focus, however, will now switch to raising funds for his presidential run.
Well, they will go to the polls at the end of June and push some buttons that will surely give Romney a few more delegates. But, if it wasn’t for the runoff between incumbent Orrin Hatch and upstart Dan Liljenquist to determine who will knock the tar out of the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in November, the turnout would be abysmal. Your vote in that race is meaningful. Your vote for Romney against the GOP field? Not so much. In fact, I would wager that at this point, Romney would rather you write a check to his campaign than check his name at the ballot box.
How did Utah get stiffed?
To be honest, this was one time when I can pat the Utah Legislature on the back. You see, when Jon Huntsman Jr. was running the show as governor, he pushed a bill through the Legislature that would bind the Utah presidential primary to the date of a Western Region Primary.
The thing is, Utah’s neighbors wouldn’t play along, refusing to participate in a regional primary. That resulted in the Utah primary getting kicked to back of the bus.
This voter inequity is why the United States is in desperate need of election reform.
The first thing that needs to go is the Electoral College, which is the greatest buzzkill there is for encouraging participation in the presidential election. It pretty much nullifies the power of your single vote. Besides, eliminating it would prevent the theft of a presidential election, like we saw in 2000.
The next thing that needs an overhaul is the way we pick our candidates, whether they wear the uniform of the Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians.
To do that, Congress should mandate that the country be divided into thirds, with a primary for the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast eight weeks apart to give the candidates adequate time to touch the ground everywhere.
That would give each state more influence, more relevance, more recognition.
We are hearing a lot of the same complaints we heard during the midterm election two years ago, that our leaders are simply not listening, that they are not paying attention, that they just don’t get it. It’s a legitimate, across-the-board complaint from both sides.
Dumping the Electoral College and setting up regional primaries that would force these guys to drop into the neighborhood for more than just a fundraising visit could go a long way in grabbing their attention. I mean, are Utah’s needs really the same as those in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, or Massachusetts?
I don’t think so.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.