Begun, but not yet organized. That organization will be the subject of my interview with RNC Chair Reince Priebus on today's show. The 2012 and 2008 Republican nomination processes were catastrophes for the GOP, an insane combination of the archaic when it came to caucuses and primaries --Iowa must go first, New Hampshire second etc-- and the incomprehensible, contrived and wholly random sequence of GOP debates, which evolved into an endless mud wrestling match of 30 rounds. Neither John McCain in 2008 nor Mitt Romney in 2012 benefitted from the fiascos, and we forget how terribly the 2008 Democratic nomination process spun out of the control of the Democrats. (We forget because the financial panic of the fall of 2008 rendered everything before it moot.)
The centerpieces of the general campaign --the debates with their absurdist "town halls" and left, left, and way-left-of-center questions and assumptions-- are also broken beyond repair. The very act of voting --who gets to do so and when-- is scrambled from state to state with the dope-smoking state of Colorado now embracing something akin to "everyone gets mailed a ballot six weeks early" rules.
The Framers would not be pleased. Getting to a new president is as entertaining as the best BCS-era shout-fest in a bar leading to blows over the Big Ten's September out-of-conference opponents or the legitimacy of saying "student-athlete" in connection with any number of specific programs. "Entertaining" is most definitely not the point, however. Finding a man or woman capable of winning the general and competent in the vast array of skills needed and ready to deal with Putin and the PRC politburo --this is what the system should be designed to produce. Not entertainment.
Priebus is a very smart fellow, and the parts he can control, mold and amend he is moving to control, mold and amend, with an early GOP convention a certainty and its location in a key city with necessary facilities and easy access is a certainty. (Did someone say Cleveland?) Fixing the primary calendar is a much more difficult task, but he and his team are wrestling with that too, and there is a very good argument that serious GOP candidates should simply say "so long" to the Iowa fire drill which isn't a fair assessment of anyone's strengths or weaknesses. New Hampshire, yes, a swing state with tradition and retail campaigning but also a real primary. South Carolina and Florida, yes and yes, also key tests of real strengths. But beyond those three primaries the RNC must impose a rational order: Favor primaries that are closed so that Republicans pick their nominees, and test the field and finalize the candidates in states that must be won if the White House is to be achieved --places like Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. And not by caucuses but by mass voting which is the same way those states will be won in the fall of '16.
Like the realities that finally brought change to college football, the realities of politics in the new era should force the GOP at least to impose order on its own nominating process. We don't want or need a long circus that entertains the Manhattan-Beltway media elite. Republicans and especially the vast center-right coalition that elected Reagan and W want to win the White House. That means a set of rules changes designed to produce the strongest nominee.
Time to bid farewell to the nostalgia and the needs of the cable networks. Time to win.
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