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Simple change would get more people into politics

By most accounts, Super Tuesday lived up to its hype. Minnesota and North Dakota joined 22 other states in shattering previous participation numbers, aided no doubt by fascinating and unresolved races for nominations on both major-party tickets. ...

By most accounts, Super Tuesday lived up to its hype.

Minnesota and North Dakota joined 22 other states in shattering previous participation numbers, aided no doubt by fascinating and unresolved races for nominations on both major-party tickets.

Young and old are engaged in politics on a level not seen since the 1960s.

A black man and a woman are actually contending for the White House.

One of those pivotal times in U.S. political history is happening before our eyes.

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So it's too bad the process for determining the world's most powerful leader is overly entrenched in an archaic system that favors the politics of old.

North Dakota and Minnesota ought to abandon their presidential preference caucuses and move to a presidential primary.

Don't understand the difference?

Don't worry: Ask 10 people on the street, and nine won't be able to explain it, either.

Caucuses are run by political parties. The parties essentially ask those who identify with their belief system to cast a ballot in favor - or in preference - of one candidate for their party.

A primary is run by the state as an official election to narrow the field of candidates for a given race.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each system.

Caucuses are political events akin to pep rallies for parties and help them identify people who may lean toward their belief system, thereby boosting their ranks. Their selection system also doesn't cost taxpayers anything.

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Primaries are politically neutral, formal and do cost taxpayers.

Caucuses are certainly more fun and taxpayer-frugal.

So why advocate primaries?

Most people in our region and across the nation are not wholly Republican or Democrat. They are largely independent, able to be swayed to one party or candidate at any given time based on who speaks to their values and beliefs at the time.

However, those independents who ultimately decide what leader and what party will control the White House are largely limited to just a few options when they vote in a general election every four years.

Why not allow them to help whittle down the field, rather than the small fraction of party faithful who give everyone else a limited menu come election time?

The current system favors the status quo. It favors the few at each end of the political spectrum.

It's no wonder Americans bemoan the lack of political cooperation, the inability to address things that need doing, issues that need solving.

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And then there's the question of whether the preferences shown by all those people who packed caucuses last Tuesday really mattered.

After all, a caucus system is not terribly transparent and is accountable only to the party.

What's to say a few powerful partygoers couldn't determine the outcome? We already have super delegates, party big-wigs who wield a bigger stick than others come convention time.

It's time to change our system for the better, include all the independents and ensure credibility and accountability when selecting those who may become our president.

It's time we have primaries.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579 or mvonpinnon@forumcomm.com

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