Kent Sorensen, Michele Bachmann’s Iowa Campaign Chairman, has defected to Ron Paul. On one level, it boggles British minds to see politicians spending a year publicly fighting members of their own respective parties as an integral part of the system. It boggles them even more than the question of how anyone might have been uncertain as to whether Bachmann or Paul better represented his views.
However, so closed has the manner of, effectively, appointing most Members of Parliament now become, that something akin to primaries needs to be introduced, although allowing for our tighter, more European model of party membership. In the course of each Parliament, each party should submit to a binding ballot of the whole constituency electorate its locally determined internal shortlist of two for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, and submit to a binding ballot of the whole national electorate its nationally determined internal shortlist of two for Leader, i.e., potential Prime Minister.
In the meantime, what of the American primary system? Why not give everyone three votes, one for their preferred candidate on economic policy, one for their preferred candidate on social policy, and one for their preferred candidate on foreign policy? Each state could have a number of delegates equal to three times its number of votes in the Electoral College.
Or even each state could have the same number of delegates. Say, 45, 15 in each category, with the highest scoring candidate in that category being awarded five, then four, three, two, and one. In the event of fewer than five candidates, you would simply go back to the top of the list, so that, if there were three, the first placed scorer would get five, the second placed four, the third placed three, the first placed another two, and the second placed another one. That would mean the return of proper conventions, choosing nominees by exhaustive ballot while thrashing out platforms genuinely representative of broad ranges of opinion.
Primary ballot access could be made conditional on nomination by at least five per cent of electors in the state, including at least 10 per cent in each of its congressional districts, all signatures having been collected by registered electors in that state. With that safeguard in place, all primaries could and should be open, even regardless of simultaneous participation in the other party’s as a voter, though not as a candidate.
If and when things all really do become too much, and a new party really does become necessary, might not this be the way to go about ensuring its broadest possible base and its highest possible level of participation?