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Anyone for a March 17, 2020 primary vote?

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POSTED April 21, 2017 1:43 a.m.

Trying to get the elected leaders in the small states that hold sway other the Electoral College to abandon it is the textbook definition of an exercise in futility.

Why would you give up leverage?

Without delving into the politics of the recent presidential election, the issue isn’t the constitution or the basic game rules that many describe as archaic. The United States is a union of 50 states. And because we are a union of 50 states California can have many laws and standards that really matter in our day-to-day lives that are different than in say Alabama, Kansas or Texas.

The Senate was created to give every state an equal say in the federal government. The House of Representatives was designed to represent the people. While the Senate indeed does just what it is was intended to do, the House doesn’t quite accomplish that because of the guarantee that every state should have at least one representative regardless of population. The Electoral College numbers reflect how many of the Senate and House seats are distributed to each state. This was — and still is — considered a form of checks and balances where the majority doesn’t hold absolute sway. Enough of the basic civics lesson.

The better fix is to make California count. We have 12 percent of the population yet by the time the primary elections for president appear on the ballot for the Golden State our say is pretty much useless in determining the nominees.

Almost all of the initial states to conduct primaries through Super Tuesday — save Texas — are small states. No offense to Colorado and Georgia but population wise they are not in the same league as California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, or Ohio. California has at least twice the population as every other state except Texas. You’d have to add Ohio to Texas’ 27.8 million residents to match California.

So why shouldn’t California that can effectivity be disregarded by both major parties in the general election except to serve as a cash cow and gets the short end of the stick in the primaries every election since 1968 when the state upset the Democratic party machine and gave the primary votes to Robert Kennedy move up its presidential primary?

The State Senate now has a bill that would make the California primary the third primary or caucus after Iowa and New Hampshire. Those two states have 4.4 million people or the combined population of Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Alameda counties.

Not only do presidential hopefuls follow a strategy that cuts California out of the picture for all practical purposes in November but the little states also get to virtually dictate who we get to vote on in the general election.

The bill would make the election the third Tuesday in March. It would also give the governor the authority to make the California primary even earlier if other states try to leapfrog ahead of it.

Now for the reason why such a strategy matters to those upset with party politics. The primary calendar is typically controlled for the most part by the Democratic and Republican national party apparatuses that do not take too kindly to large states messing with it. When they do as they have in the past the national parties have found ways to punish them by diminishing their influence in conventions and elsewhere.

The Electoral College is in the Constitution. The two party system isn’t. And more precisely the Republicans and Democrats were not anointed as a party by the Constitution yet they are a political arm that has a great deal of leverage over who gets elected president by essentially manipulating primary election dates.

So would California voting early in the primaries have changed who the nominees were in 2016?

Conjecture on “who would of” advanced in an earlier state primary isn’t the point. It is to give some weight to 12 percent of the country’s population.

The most equitable solution would be a national primary. That has its drawbacks as it would take a massive organization and arguably a lot of money to run concurrently in all 50 states. The result, of course, would be only well-heeled — read that party machine candidates — would prevail by concentrating on the biggest states.

Perhaps regional primaries — the Pacific Coast, the West, the Midwest, New York-New England, the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast  — would be a possible answer. The primaries could be staged two months apart over the course of a year and rotate the order that they occur every four years.

You could make a case that any of the changes — what is before the California State Senate, a national primary, or regional primaries — would skew the system against the “little guy” in terms of the candidates. But if the goal is to dilute the power and influence of the small states judging by the complaints being voiced, either of the three options does the trick.

If there is no stomach for that, then just grin and bear it. The Electoral College isn’t likely to change given enough states that would be reduced to irrelevancy in a general election campaign aren’t likely to vote for a constitutional amendment to change it. And since it is in the constitution and quite clear, no court is going to rule it unconstitutional.

Anyone interested in a California presidential primary on March 17, 2020?

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