Enough with the Iowa Caucus. Bring on the Great Lakes Primary!

Before the debacle with the Iowa caucuses this week, many people – including myself – questioned the wisdom of having the state continue to hold the first primary contest each presidential cycle. Candidates to replace Iowa are already coming forward. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made his pitch for why the Land of Lincoln should be first in line:

If you click through to the NPR article, Illinois looks pretty promising based on certain metrics.

Since I’m about to return to Illinois after several years abroad, naturally I like this idea. Who wouldn’t want presidential candidates fawning over them? That’s power!

But of course, any one state getting that kind of advantage is really kind of ridiculous. In some sort of perfect world, there would be a national primary. But I’ll admit a personal element would be lost. It would become a carnival of TV and online ads and stadium events – just like the general election.

A compromise could be regional primaries – groups of related states all going at once. For example, the Great Lakes states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan – could all coordinate their schedules. Candidates would still have only a portion of the country to visit, and they could address the issues common to those states. I’d leave it to the other states to sort out their groupings, but natural ones seem to be northeast, south, plains, southwest, mountain, and west coast. If having large groups of states go all at once sounds like too much for a campaign, recall that Super Tuesday involves fourteen states in every corner of the country (as well as a territory and overseas Democrats).

Bottom line, as a proud Midwesterner, I’d like to see more focus on our states and issues. If the Great Lakes states can work together to coordinate their primary schedules, that’s one step toward that goal.

And of course, we should go first.

Transparency and my vote

Even though I consider myself a journalist, I refuse to let that deprive me of the privileges of citizenship. So, when an issue clearly has one answer – gun control, for example – I’ll make my support known. Also, I vote.

Living abroad as I do, I vote by mail. Today, I shipped my ballot to Illinois ahead of the March 20 primary. Following the notion that “transparency is the new objectivity”, here’s who got my vote.

I pulled the Democratic ballot (you pick one party’s ballot in the primary) and chose for the following candidates:

  • Daniel Biss & Litesa Wallace for governor and lt. governor
  • Nancy Rotering for attorney general
  • Brian Deters for 18th Congressional District representative
Voting in downstate Illinois as I do, all of the other races either had one candidate or no candidates on the Democratic ballot.

Trump and stability

While Trump has always been erratic – adjusting his message to suit his audience and mood and reflecting the last person he talked to – I’ve begun to worry about his stability more and more.

With Hicks leaving, Kushner on the ropes, Mueller progressing, and ongoing tension with his staff and cabinet secretaries, he will feel isolated. Reportedly he is planning to replace his National Security Advisor. Among the choices – again, reportedly – is Josh Bolton, who has advocated for nuclear war with North Korea. We can’t count on him to keep his own counsel. We are in dangerous times.

By the way, this danger is partly a consequence of Congress allowing an imperial presidency to grow. The office has become vested with far too much authority and power. It might have to step up. But for that to happen, the Republicans in Congress would have to choose country over party, and that is cold comfort.

Only half-jokingly, I wonder if Fox & Friends could calm him down…

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On opponents and enemies

In a comment on a recent post of mine, I was called a “domestic enemy”.

I realize that emotions are running high in the presidential campaign, but we need to work hard to avoid this kind of thought and language on all sides of the political debate.

When you face enemies, you engage in war. War, ultimately, knows no bounds and always results in atrocities and deaths.

We cannot see our fellow Americans in this way.

Instead, despite all inclinations to do otherwise, we must see one another as opponents.

When you face opponents, you try to defeat them. Now, things can get heated when we face opponents. Sadly, there is always the possibility of violence. Politics is about things that deeply matter to people. It is about their identity. And defending that can lead to strained emotions. But your fellow Americans remain opponents. You try to defeat them. But you do not seek to kill them. You do not seek to destroy them.

Words have impact. While they can never hurt you physically, they can certainly incite behavior that does. We must choose our words carefully.