I agree with the Globe editorial board: It is time to end the dominance of Iowa and New Hampshire in our presidential nomination process (“Kill the tradition: N.H. and Iowa should not vote first,” Editorial, Feb. 5). But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The Globe is too willing to abandon the civic engagement these contests represent as “an inevitable trend in the era of social media.” The cure for our unrepresentative politics cannot be to kill the retail politics of citizens interacting with candidates. Abandoning this for glitzy campaign events, advertising, and random social media eruptions is short-sighted.
The alternative of having more diverse small states replace Iowa and New Hampshire cannot happen overnight. Generations of tradition have fueled the seriousness with which New Hampshire voters take the process. That’s why voter turnout in New Hampshire’s primary rivals the general election turnouts in most states. How does democracy “win” if a smaller diverse state is first, and they have a much smaller turnout?
The Globe has it all wrong. The culture of retail politics needs to be replicated in our political process, especially in the age of social media. Any “solution” that abandons this concept will only accelerate the demise of our democratic republic.
Biden is not done
I am angry at the pundits who were claiming, with not all the Iowa votes even reported, that Joe Biden’s campaign is over. With the format of caucuses, which has no privacy or confidentiality rules, an uncertain voter may be influenced by seeing what people are standing in a candidate’s corner. The Globe reported that “half the supporters of former vice president Joe Biden joined the corner of former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, sparking cheers from the Buttigieg crowd and leaving Biden below the 15 percent threshold needed to earn state delegates in the first round” (“On the ground, a familiar ritual gets new rules and welcomes new players,” Page A1, Feb. 4).
People voting in a primary or general election are prohibited from voting if they appear within 100 feet of the polling place wearing a candidate’s campaign button or T-shirt. In federal elections, all states should play by the same rules. Also, Iowa is one of the least demographically diverse states. It is therefore absurd and potentially politically damaging to utter proclamations of doom for any candidate based on partial results from one unrepresentative state.
Janet Fitch Parker
The parties control our elections
The Iowa caucuses’ results-reporting problem was not a “debacle.” The proceedings were backed up by paper records and can be reconciled quickly. Also, Iowa is small and homogeneous and doesn’t reflect the national makeup, “debacle” or no.
But these are not the problems that make the process of choosing national and statewide candidates for election long, disruptive, expensive, ineffective, and unfair. The problem is that the process is focused on partisanship and run by the partisans. Political parties are private organizations, not government institutions. They are never mentioned in the US Constitution, and yet they serve as the gatekeepers to our electoral process. The Founders held the concept of political parties in disdain, even fear. Like-minded people will aggregate to promote their common interests, but seldom will such aggregations forbid their members from joining with people of other interests. My town clerk (by state law) cannot allow me to vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, even if my choices would include a presidential Democrat and senatorial Republican.
We need open, nonpartisan primaries, and we need elections with potentially large fields of candidates with instant runoffs, likely by ranked-choice voting. We probably can’t get the politicians out of politics, but perhaps we can corral them and return voting control to the people.