Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Prelude To A Three-Way? The nomination process is in desperate need of a makeover

I will admit my biases upfront and note that I have no intention of voting for the Republican nominee for President in 2012.  However, this Republican presidential nomination process has given me much to ponder.
Last week, the second full week of January, the Republican race was filled with so much excitement that each new day seemed like a telenovela, a limited-run, Spanish-language soap opera.  Coming into the week of January 13th, the race seemed almost over.  Many commentators had already declared Mitt Romney as the eventual Republican nominee.
On Monday, January 14th, fresh off of a very disappointing finish in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman Jr. declared that he was dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination.  It was unfortunate to me, that an intelligent well-spoken man, who has served his country well in many capacities, could not garner more support for his candidacy.  Although some of his more modern views were unpopular with the Republican base, Jon Huntsman Jr. stayed true to his beliefs.
On Thursday, January 17th, Rick Perry also declared that he was out of the race, and endorsed Newt Gingrich.  After rocketing to the top after declaring his intent to run for President, Perry badly damaged his aspirations by his poor debate performances.  Perry’s endorsement of Gingrich seemed to make the nomination process into a two-man race between Gingrich and Mitt Romney.  However, moments later to everyone’s surprise, after recounting the caucus votes, Iowa caucus officials declared that Rick Santorum won, with some ballots missing, and reversed the previously-declared victory of Mitt Romney.  Could this possibly turn the race into a three-way battle between Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich?
After turning on the debate moderator in the Thursday night debate (January 19th), when he dared to question Gingrich’s personal life, Former Speaker Gingrich enjoyed the support of the debate crowd and surged to a victory in South Carolina in Saturday’s primary.  As I am writing this article, Gingrich is gaining on Romney in Florida.
To me, this nomination process has highlighted a number of issues: the challenges of Super PACs-the legacy of the Citizens United ruling; the meteoric rise and fall of several candidates; the importance of debate performances; and last, but not least, the disconnect between the average middle-class citizen and Republican candidates.  So will it be the billionaire, the condescending Washington insider, or the long-shot conservative?  A better question may be, why do so few get to choose the candidate for so many?
Do we really believe that Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are representative of the rest of the voters in the United States?  While Florida is certainly more diverse, she is definitely not representative of the rest of the country either.  When are we as a nation going to devise a more representative selection process for candidates for the nation’s highest office?  This year, more than ever, it has become clear that this nomination process is in desperate need of a makeover.

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