Once again, Florida legislators are pushing to upend things by moving their state's presidential preference primaries up to the front of the pack among states. Imagine that! One of the largest states in the nation -- and one that may best represent the American electorate as a whole -- wants to be ahead of comparatively small states such as Iowa and South Carolina.
And how has that Iowa gig been working out for the GOP? Oh, that's right, they voted for Mike Huckabee in the last presidential nomination process. Now he's on TV, playing a banjo or whatever. And unless my memory is shot, I believe the Iowa GOP didn't even give the nod to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Don't misunderstand me. I like Iowa and the people I know there, and I certainly like South Carolina. But should we not all recognize that Florida has every right in the world to set its primary date whenever its elected officials so choose?
In my day I was very active in GOP politics, even at the national level. Let me assure you: One can't meet a bigger bunch of inside-baseball throat-cutters than partisan hacks that have, for the most part, never held office, but love to play "politics" as state party chairs or members of a national committee.
The Democrats basically kept Hillary Clinton from winning her party's nomination in 2008 simply by refusing to recognize her huge win in Florida. Had the delegates she won there counted -- later the party made accommodations for the Florida delegation, after Barack Obama was the clear winner -- Clinton would have jumped to the lead in the presidential nomination process and never looked back.
Even some strong conservatives feel that if there was no way to elect a Republican in '08, they would have felt more secure with Clinton as president than Obama.
In the end, Florida sealed the deal for John McCain in '08. It might have been a mistake for the party to have nominated him, but it reflected the mood of the GOP in that year. Currently it seems that Mitt Romney is best organized in the Sunshine State. Whether that will hold is anyone's guess. But regardless, shouldn't individual states be able to set the vote when they want it, rather than be slaves to party hacks or traditions that simply don't make sense years after they are formulated?
I wish we could return to a huge "Super Tuesday" that would take place early on. It would cut down on the expense of these campaigns and would quickly separate legitimate contenders from others who will be part of endless debates but have no relevance to the final outcome.
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