A Super Tuesday?

It is Super Tuesday. If you are voting today I hope you will consider three things:

First – if you have five minutes – start your day with a video. It is a scene from the pilot episode of the TV series The Newsroom. I was reminded of it in an interview with the show’s creator Aaron Sorkin published this weekend. It might make you mad, it might make you sad, I don’t think you will be bored.

Second – if you have a few more minutes, review this prezi published here last summer. The character Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is not wrong in the scene above – the prezi will tell you why. Cliff Notes? As of last year the United States had slipped to thirteenth in the world in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. It is a measure that looks at three non- political measures of quality of life: Life Expectancy, Knowledge and Education and Standard of Living; but since then new rankings have come out…the US has now dropped to a tie for 15th.

Finally, here is a simple concept for you.

If the candidate you are considering has a world view at either side of this Venn diagram, our hopes for making progress and moving our country forward again are slim, I hope you will consider someone else. Historically, and by design, our government only works through consensus and compromise. Are the people you are going to send to Washington next year going to work together (even with people with different ideas than theirs?) …or not?

One more note about political primaries. Yes, these are only primaries today. There will be a general election in November and thus it may be tempting, particularly in races for Congress to think…”this doesn’t matter, we’re just going to do it again in the fall.” But when we vote again the field will be dramatically winnowed from more than a dozen in some cases down to two or three. If you want someone in the middle of the circles above, the time to find them and vote for them is now. If your primary isn’t today but you want to know when it is…here’s a link for you.

More on the next steps for Project to Find America and the 435 Voices podcast coming soon.

2 thoughts on “A Super Tuesday?

  1. I’m interested what your thoughts are on using ranked choice voting in the primary elections? One of the biggest takeaways from Super Tuesday was that the consolidation of the “moderate” candidates to back Biden helped right his campaign and push him over the top on Super Tuesday. Then on Super Tuesday itself there was essentially Biden and Bloomberg fighting for the same sphere of voters and Warren and Sanders doing the same on the progressive side. While I think it’s silly to say that every Warren voter would go to Biden or that every Pete voter went to Biden, I do think that the general sentiment is correct.

    That seems like a problem to me for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is that it leads to scenarios where all the candidates from one spectrum can drop out and help coalesce support around a single candidate and if the other spectrum/s don’t do the same they are at a disadvantage, and campaigns shouldn’t be forced to drop out because of the worry they are impacting the candidate most similar to themselves in my opinion. If ranked choice voting were implemented that would allay the fears of some of the campaigns about if they were doing more harm than good by staying in, and dropping our would be a decision made solely based upon the merits of their own campaign.

    I’m also interested in what your thoughts are on the current primary system with regards to IA and NH being the first and second states, and the outsized impact that Super Tuesday has. I’ve heard a ton of different ideas ranging from a rotating primary every 4 years to mix the order up, to all states voting on the same day, to aggregating data and prioritizing swing states as the first primaries. I don’t love any of these ideas, but I do agree that having IA and NH first is a problem (especially with IA using a caucus) when they don’t represent the party of the country. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I certainly think it will be a changed system in 2024 and curious to get your thoughts on it.

    ~Colin

    • I really appreciate the thoughtful question Colin. I don’t know a ton about the specifics of Ranked Choice Voting except that Maine has been using it and have read a bit more about it this morning on the site fairvote.org (an excellent site in my opinion.) I think the concept makes theoretical sense and it might be particularly useful to negate the effects of scenarios like the one you mentioned. There would appear to be some potential drawbacks too. In a field of three people with two at the extremes of the political spectrum it seems likely that the remaining person would win, really regardless of the content of their message or lack thereof. That, presumably, would push candidates toward more centrist positions, which might not be a bad thing but there might be some spilled milk on the way to that outcome.

      Yes – Iowa and New Hampshire are very strange choices to have the kind of impact on our presidential nominating process that they have. Many years ago, as a small market reporter in New Hampshire I certainly benefited from an opportunity to interview candidates I never would have had in say…Montana and thus I liked it at the time and still find it interesting to see all the candidates come within what amounts to a long golf shot over the Connecticut River to me. But – its hard to make an argument that New Hampshire (or Iowa) is really representative of the whole US in any meaningful way.

      To these challenges, I would also add Gerrymandering, the strange insistence in voting on Tuesdays in most states, negative advertising (thanks Citizens United,) thinly veiled efforts to suppress voter turnout that are masked as efforts to combat voter fraud and increasingly misinformation and disinformation as reasons why our national elections are pretty clearly not serving the will of the people.

      But while some of these things would have to be fixed by the states I keep coming back to Congress as the place where the overall fix has to start. I read somewhere that Bernie Sanders was quoted as saying to a new member of Congress, “you know – this place is a complete waste of time.” If he indeed said that I fear that today he is right. But if the legislative branch can’t fix problems like how we put representative people in the other two branches, where does that leave our government?

      Thanks again for reading and adding to the discussion Colin. What do others think?

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