Building on the success of the 2007 National Presidential Caucus to stimulate participation through local presidential straw poll caucuses across the country, the NPC has since taken up the challenge of acting to facilitate cross party consultation in an ongoing effort to make continuous improvements in the common primary election calendar rules.
"Working for Primary Election Reform"
There is a near universal consensus on the need to reform of the presidential primary process by both parties and by the state governments who must finally schedule and typically pay for primary elections. There is near complete agreement that the primary season starts too early and lasts too long. There is also a general feeling that so-called retail politics is beneficial to the selection process but only possible in the small state environment.
Yet due to the decision making process where nearly all have to agree, very little has changed over the 40 years since the primary system was implemented as one reform plan after another has been offered and for one reason or another ignored or rejected.
2008 allowed a handful of states to reduce a qualified field of over a dozen candidates down to 3 even before Super Tuesday, Feb. 5th. The unexpected and prolonged Democratic race was the exception that proved the rule that citizens rarely if ever get a chance to cast meaningful votes to select their party's nominee. The 2012 race saw a similar extended contest for the GOP nomination.
The good: The body politic has gained a taste for authentic participation, long yearned for and now expected. Each major party has formally committed to enact changes proposed by their respective "Change Commissions" leading to an ongoing debate with the potential to make continuous improvements. These parallel and unprecedented initiatives create a real prospect for ongoing and meaningful reform.
The bad: Voting in 2008 primary season came within an eyelash of starting in 2007. Again, in 2012 voting began mere hours into the new year as states attempted to jump in front of each other to get to gain perceived advantage on the calendar. This long standing tendency is still very much at work and threatening the 2016 elections with chaos.
Leading Reform Proposals:
There are many competing plans but no consensus. Popular sentiment is to have a single national primary day. The National Secretaries of State and the National Governors Association support rotating regional primaries. Neither major national party has a comprehensive plan though they and other players have begun to more closely cooperate in rule making and enforcement.
Opportunity to Push for Reform:
Due to the enormous effect that primary election rules have on the selection of party nominees and thereby the US presidency, the National Presidential Caucus urges everyone to engage on this issue and to advocate for their positions and proposals at state and national levels.
The National Presidential Caucus for Primary Reform is a open discussion platform to promote, convene and moderate multi-party deliberations. Its goal is to foster consensus on specific actions that will increase order, fairness and participation in this critical process to select the "finalists" to become president.
Historically this issue has been the sole province of a small group of party members. But given the massive growth in political/civic participation over the last few years combined with the intense national experience of the last two cycles, we hope that millions of citizens people will -become aware of the implications and feel a responsibility to participate in reforming this critical electoral process. -develop opinions and advocate their ideas for reform.
The NPC seeks to stimulate this discussion to the widest possible range of participants. To encourage as many groups as possible take up this complex but extremely important issue.
Opinions, statements and proposals from targeted constituencies including the 100 state party chairs, the secretaries of state & governors will be highlighted on the project web site. We will also prioritize posts from key members of the national parties, other large member organizations as well as outcomes from any groups who provide links to their own internal deliberation content.
Achieve consensus for reform by mobilizing broader discussion and deeper deliberation about the 2016 primary calendar.
Convene leading representatives of the relevant rule making bodies to cooperative in developing ongoing improvements to the common primary election calendar.
Call on every state chair of both parties to issue a statement of position for their state party. Call on every secretary of state and even governor, to issue a position statement by late July.
Solicit editorial comment from every major outlet. Encourage widespread blogging on issues.
Foster ad hoc groups to meet and discuss as well as invite any political/civic organization to include 2016 calendar reform as agenda item for already scheduled meetings.
NPC on Primary Reform is a project of the Open Caucus Institute, a non-profit public benefit corporation.
Don Means, Director
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