Talk about whining. Both major political parties are doing it now. On the one hand, Howard (waaaaaaaahhhhhh!) Dean is upset because the Demo nominee was not decided on Super Tuesday, and may not be decided before the Democratic convention late this summer. On the other hand, the dullest of the dull among Republicans, including Texas governor Rick Perry, are calling on Mike Huckabee to pull out of the Republican race because he is "hurting the party."
What are both parties so afraid of? I invite you to look at some of my earlier posts for more detail, but in a nutshell, the thing that scares both parties is the possibility that their respective conventions will have to be conventions! The very thought that they may have to pick a presidential candidate in a national convention scares them to death.
As I have stated earlier, we would have five or six less great presidents if parties had always done the long, drawn-out, nobody-wins-and-everybody-pays series of state primaries that we are cursed with now. What the entrenched powers that be want in both parties is a quick declaration of a victor -- a candidate -- in both parties by early February. That way, the parties could throw all that federal money they soaked, three dollars at a time from taxpayers, into smear campaigns and crusades for one person. They would have from February to November -- 9 whole months! -- to try to scrape the ugly off their chosen candidates and present something that remotely resembled a president.
Then the conventions could be what most modern big-party honchos want them to be: expensive, elaborate coronations of an already-widely-known candidate, and platforms for other politicians to cement their own days in the sun. Most politicians think the primary purpose of a political convention is to launch their own campaigns 4 to 8 years in the future, or cement the deathgrip they have on their current house or senate seats.
In truth, political conventions are boring, unbelievable, and incredibly shallow to most Americans. When Al Gore spends one evening publicly showing everyone in America how much he loves his wife and kids in a staged event that probably took two weeks of practice and coaching to prepare for, we can see how utterly useless these things are. They make the Grammy awards look spontaneous and sincere (and that's hard to do).
I have said it before, and I say it again: We will never have another great president until a party has to pick one during a convention. It may even be one currently running, but if history has any evidence, it will be someone we're not thinking about right now. Maybe it will be a long gone Democrat like Bill Richardson, or a dark horse like Harry Reid. Maybe the Republicans will suddenly find a Sam Brownback or return to Fred Thompson. The truth is, most of the great presidents would have never made it through the primaries. Primaries allow the moneyed mediocre to float to the top, much like slag does when iron is being refined. Both major parties say, "I guess this was the best we could do," and they blindly decide to half-heartedly support a dull candidate.
It doesn't have to be this way. There are probably 25 to 50 great candidates in both parties, plus independents, that could give us the president we need, instead of the one we will settle for. I am grateful to Barak Obama for stopping a coronation of Ms. Rodham-Clinton, something that was supposed to be a "done deal" before the first Democratic primary or caucus. And to Huckabee, I say, "go for it!" When his own party whines that he needs to get out to "save the party," invite them to draw straws between him and McCain, who could do the same thing. While we're at it, bring back the dropouts from both parties, and let them all draw straws. We have a better chance of getting a good president through dumb luck than we do of getting one through this made-in-hades thing they call "primaries."
As I heard network pundits praising "Super Tuesday" as "the closest thing to a National Primary we have ever had," I thought, are there really normal people who want something like a "national primary?" I can think of no good reason to have one, and fifty good reasons not to.
So get ready, you backwards, boring "powers-that-be," the kind that let people like Dick Cheney have power when he deserves none, or that bring a total nobody like John Kerry into the national spotlight. Get ready for some knockdown-dragout convention fighting. Get ready to be bruised, beaten, and sore. Get ready to spend some money on what you should have been doing anyway: picking a candidate that's a real Republican or Democrat instead of the phonies you keep trying to enthrone.
I couldn't have planned this one any better myself, anyway: we've lost the "frontrunner" former New York mayor who never had a genuine conviction about anything except that he happened to be mayor on September 11, 2001; we've seen the demise of Mitt Romney, who thought he could buy delegates with his millions, his makeup, and his lies; we're seeing that you have to do more than wear a dress and be a liberal to be a "shoo-in" this year; the millionaire "advocate of the poor" who made his money by suing doctors and hospitals and raising the cost of health care for all of us. And they keep falling.
I'm grateful to Huckabee and Obama for keeping it alive in their own ways. I'm not sure either one of them would make a great president, but I'm holding my breath that they've propped the door open to those late summer conventions, and that their tenacity will allow some as-yet-unnoticed leader to slip in the door, get a few votes on the first split ballot, gain a showing on the third ballot, and make a few strategic moves on the 14th ballot, and then, in the midst of fatigue, sweat, and sudden realization, gain a nomination on about the 21st round.
Then, with only a little over two months to go, they would neither have the time to dig up any skeletons on each other. It would be about exciting voters and challenging the nation to pick someone to lead. Is that too much of a dream. Huckabee says he "majored in miracles," and Obama talks ad absurdum about "change." I can only hope for both.
I can hope for a real presidential election this November. We haven't had one in quite some time.