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Jim Shaw: Political process grossly unfair

With the 2016 presidential campaign already in high gear, I'd like to say ... The process is unfair to most of the nation. The only states that seem to matter are Iowa and New Hampshire. Iowa has the first presidential caucuses, and New Hampshire...

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With the 2016 presidential campaign already in high gear, I’d like to say …

  • The process is unfair to most of the nation. The only states that seem to matter are Iowa and New Hampshire. Iowa has the first presidential caucuses, and New Hampshire has the first primary. Candidates spend much of their time and money in those states. Residents of those states expect it, as if they are a privileged class of Americans.

The candidates have no choice but to operate that way. If they don’t do well in Iowa or New Hampshire, then they have virtually no chance to win the nomination. Many of the candidates who do poorly in those two states will lose precious monetary donations, media coverage, and support from voters in other states. They will be forced to drop out of the race before most of the nation’s voters have a chance to weigh in on them. The populations of Iowa and New Hampshire combined represent about 1.5 percent of the country, which means their influence on the process is way out of whack. There is no national law that says it has to be that way; it’s strictly up to the political parties. However, New Hampshire has a state law that mandates it to hold the first presidential primary. At least Fox News is holding a debate in August with only the top 10 Republican candidates in the polls, much to the chagrin of party activists in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Here’s my proposal: hold a national primary to nominate candidates. If a candidate doesn’t receive 50 percent of the vote (highly unlikely in this year’s crowded Republican field), then there’s a runoff primary with the top three vote-getters from each party competing. I realize there’s as much of a chance of this proposal becoming reality as Charles Manson being elected president, but it gives all voters in the country an equal say in choosing the nominees.

  • Republican presidential candidates are in a pickle over the Supreme Court’s ruling to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. In order to have any chance at the nomination, they must oppose the ruling. However, that opposition could hurt the nominee in the general election. That’s because polls show 60 percent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, which is an amazing change from 20 years ago, when only about 25 percent of the country supported the idea.

Some Republicans have called for a constitutional amendment to overrule the court’s decision, but that has zero chance of happening. The Founding Fathers deliberately made it difficult to amend the Constitution. Amendments need approval by two-thirds of the Senate, two-thirds of the House, and three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

  • Judges who rule the way you want them to “uphold the law,” while judges who don’t are “activists.”

Shaw, Fargo, is former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. He can be heard Fridays, 10 to 11 a.m. on WDAY AM radio. Email jimshawtv@gmail.com

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