A Proposal for Presidential Primary Reform

Introduction

The presidential nominating system is widely perceived as out of control and badly in need of reform. As I travel around the country, I constantly hear that the current system of seventy-one primaries and half as many caucus/convention arrangements is too long, ill-focused, debilitating, and apt to produce a candidate who is not the choice of the party rank and file. The system, it is also claimed, works against informed debate.

Despite the widely held belief that something is very wrong, there is no agreement yet as to what can or should be done. While the memory of the1980 election is still fresh and debate centers on how different rules or mechanisms might have altered the outcome, I want to examine the primary election schedule, campaign financing, the selection of delegates, and the role of the media. After this analysis, I would like to suggest some alternatives to the present approach which could produce more representative candidates and more effective leadership.

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