POSTED BY: Don Means ON August 16, 2012 - 10:00am
“National Presidential Caucus for 2016 Primary Reform” Urges Ongoing Cross Party Consultation and Stronger Enforcement of Calendar Rules
There may be no greater public policy question than who is chosen to become president. How we make that choice, embodied in the election rules, has an enormous effect on who gets elected. The quality of our nation's presidential primary election process rests on our ability to establish an orderly, fair and inclusive process. Yet, with no central controlling authority to resolve the issue, the many interests of state and national parties as well as state governments must finally collaborate and negotiate a formula for each election cycle.
Since 2007, the National Presidential Caucus(NPC) has helped provide communications and relationship bridges to enable ongoing consultation among reform leaders from the two major political parties and others that has increased alignment and cooperation around the common primary calendar. The NPC also represents involvement across the entire spectrum of actors from state secretaries of state to state parties and state legislators to maximize inputs for deliberations to improve the essential if chaotic primary election process to choose the two or three “finalists” to become president.
Similar to the Democrats experience in 2008, the new 2012 primary calendar and voting rules substantially enhanced participation in GOP caucuses and primaries where many more states became relevant in the selection of the now-presumed nominee.
After the ’08 election significant improvements in primary rules resulted from both parties creating “change commissions” to explore and propose rules changes for this, the 2012 cycle. The changes adopted were successful in increasing participation levels as well as being contributory to the spreading out of election dates. However, the valiant attempt to move back the starting date for formal contests into February proved ineffective. Again as in 2008 the leadoff IA Caucus was held only a couple of days into the new year with intense campaigning and media coverage throughout the holiday season.
The question of the effectiveness of rules sits atop their credibility of tangible consequences for violations. Rules without enforcement breed cynicism, apathy, chaos and undermine efforts to improve an election system critical to our national democracy.
“We, the undersigned, are not all from the same party. We have different opinions about which specific reform plans to adopt. However, we are joined in common resolve to call for vigorous and widespread discussion and deliberation about how best to preserve and extend reforms from the current primary election calendar to next presidential primary in 2016.
We do agree that rules must to be enforced to avoid chaos and to increase participation for the next cycle.
We do advocate commencing the primary and caucus season no earlier than March with an opportunity for a limited number of states to hold events during February. This would remove it from the holiday season and shift the whole process toward a less attenuated duration.
We further resolve that this issue is of an ongoing nature and since circumstances invariably change over time, we commit to continuation of this open discussion and deliberation process that both incorporates and transcends party and governmental boundaries.”
James Roosevelt, Jr.
Democratic National Committee
Co-chair, Rules and Bylaws Committee
David A. Norcross
Chairman Republican Nat’l Lawyers Assn,
former Chairman RNC Rules Committee.
Director, Harvard Institute of Politics
Kentucky Secretary of State (2004-11)
Ohio Republican Party
Republican National Committeeman for Tennessee
Chairman, RNC Presidential Nominating Schedule Committee
former Co-chair DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee
Republican National Committeewoman, IA (2008-2012)
Elaine C. Kamarck
Democratic National Committee Rules Committee Member
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
William G. Mayor
Professor of Political Science
Joshua T. Putnam
Don Means, Director
National Presidential Caucus