Tures: A tale of two primaries, two states

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On March 18, I stood on a stage with, Breckin McCoy, an undergraduate from LaGrange College, a stage where so many presidential candidates stood…no pressure, right? We presented on the 2016 election at a conference where the halls throughout the entire building were adorned with photos of these campaigns. And it was so unfair.

No, I don’t mean that I’m some elite and others aren’t. I’m not. It’s a conference….a really cool one, but a conference. It’s not like I was on CNN, or even C-SPAN (I have no idea who was filming it). This isn’t a column about me, or about Mr. McCoy, who gave a performance.

It’s a tale of two states, and a biased system.

New Hampshire has been having primaries since 1920. They have the “First State” Primary, which was why they got to host the 2016 election symposium. You could see all of the images of speakers, from Dewey, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson to Bush, Reagan and Carter, Obama and McCain, and many more who didn’t win but gave it a shot.

St. Anselm College, the host site, was full of folks about as gracious and generous as could be.  They really did their best to bust the myth of the cold Northeasterner, showing a sort of Southern hospitality typical of these parts. Scholars from all over the country were there, and treated us as polite as possible, with none of that anti-Southern sneer or contempt you might hear about.

The problem had nothing to do with the event, and everything to do with politics.

You see, New Hampshire, with its four Electoral College votes, gets everyone who has ever thought about running for president. Out here in West Georgia, we get a fraction of those visits, and it’s a very tiny percentage. The road to the presidency entirely runs through New Hampshire.  It doesn’t travel through this neck of the woods.

LaGrange’s proximity to Atlanta and Columbus, the first and second largest cities in Georgia, don’t give it a single thought in anyone’s mind, even though the college is only a little bit smaller than St. Anselm. Columbus gets far fewer visits than Manchester, NH, I reckon. In fact, I bet Atlanta and suburbs don’t equal this New Hampshire town for visits.

The problem is that we have a system where Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina ALWAYS seem to come first. Anyone stupid enough to try anything different, like Florida, find their state gets boycotted and delegates get counted as half a person at the convention time, as they did in 2008. What were they thinking by trying to get the same rights as an early state vote?

The process is unfair, and everyone knows it. Our Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew that the same three states would have this disproportionate level of influence on presidential politics than other Americans. Isn’t a Georgian’s opinion worth as much as a New Hampshire citizen? What if Alabama was an early state, instead of South Carolina?

The only unbiased way to do it is to have an order of primaries, which gives each and every state an equal turn at being first, as well as something to allow each state to go to the back of the line once their early turn is done. And for those who scream “tradition” to keep their state permanently first, well, why don’t we go back to King George III and rule by Great Britain if tradition is so great? A new revolution is needed for fairness in the primary system of picking the most powerful person in the world.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu.