By Teresa Welsh |
That we are discussing the need for a national presidential primary a century after Rep. Richard Hobson of Alabama first introduced the idea in Congress in 1911 illustrates both Americans' dissatisfaction with the political status quo and the enduring merits of a reformist idea whose time may have finally come.
This year, Americans Elect is a step ahead of the curve, providing the American people with the first-ever secure, Internet-based nominating and convention platform. This "virtual convention" takes the power away from the parties and gives it back to the people.
At AmericansElect.org, any registered voter can become a delegate. Once delegates, they can pick the issues most important to them, match their positions to candidates from across the political spectrum, and draft candidates whom they believe will put the country's needs first.
By harnessing the democratic innovation of the Internet, voters can bypass the traditional political parties, the pundits, and the super PACs.
A same-day national primary would empower all voters equally and restore meaning to the principle of "one person, one vote." Under the current system, millions of Americans in later-voting states (including many of the largest, such as California, Texas, and New York) are effectively disenfranchised by a process that winnows the field before they can cast their ballots.
You need look no further than the current presidential campaign and its endless barrage of attack ads to see the need to reform the current, dysfunctional system.
Independent groups and super PACs on both sides have poured at least $70.3 million into a barrage of ads, most of them negative. The Democratic incumbent and his Republican challengers have pulled in another $330 million and promise to raise hundreds of millions more. Amid this avalanche of fundraising and spending, however, voter enthusiasm is tepid and turnout is lagging behind 2008.
With that backdrop, many candidates would embrace a national primary, which would level the playing field and upend the current system, which favors establishment candidates who have more money, bigger campaign operations, and Rolodexes filled with party bigwigs.
In order to change the way we govern, we first need to re-imagine our democracy and change the way we elect our leaders. A national primary might just be the way to get there.
About Ileana Wachtel National Press Secretary for Americans Elect
Terry Shumaker Former United States Ambassador and Democratic National Committee Member