I hate the primaries as they currently exist, so here is my proposal for a new way to do them.
In 2020, take the census, and create five groups of ten states as closely approximating them to 20% of the population as possible.
Create five dates- either five consecutive Tuesdays, or five tuesdays two weeks apart, starting the month of March or April.
In 2022, group 1 goes on 5 April, group 2 goes on 12 April, etc., with group 5 finishing on 3 May.
In 2024, just start with group 2, with group 1 going last.
Every ten years, reorganize the states according to census data so that they remain apportioned at 20% of the population per group.
This will hopefully avoid geographical and other biases, we won’t be led around by Iowa and NH, and it can but an end to the fucking racial bullshit that certain campaigns trot out every fucking eight years.
Far too rational.
does your modest proposal do away with caucuses in favor of primaries exclusively? (speaking from a caucus state).
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
Francis lays down the ban hammer!
Eliminate the primaries. They really only serve to cement the two-party system by crowding out any attention by any other party. I challenge anyone to answer to me who the frontrunner is for the Presidential nomination for the Green party or Libertarian party. Primaries are nothing more than a marketing exercise, subsidized by the national press, for two political parties to the complete exclusion of all others. Further, it requires that US elections take 2 years, which undermines how government works.
Replace it all with IRV. Everyone running runs. You’ll have 26 Republicans on the ticket and 5 Democrats and however many 3rd parties and they’ll all campaign with no early decisions to drag the process out. And everyone gets an equal shot at voting for Gillmore.
It’s a good idea, John, but if you want the five groups to have close to 20 percent of the population, some will have to have fewer than 10 states and some more. California’s like 11-12 percent of the total by itself. Also, would you try to have them be as geographically unified as possible?
@David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch: BAM? Trump will surge with evangelicals for this. They never subscribed to the Catholic definition of Christian anyway. This might as well be an endorsement.
I predict he’ll surge with Catholics for this. Republican Catholics want to give Francis the middle finger for telling them their faith isn’t about hate.
I think this proposal is rational and makes sense. Therefore the US Congress would never even consider it and it will never get to a committee, much less a general floor vote.
It’s on par with getting rid of our first-past-the-post voting system. The two parties are entrenched interests in maintaining the status quo.
So good idea John, but like the policy platform of both Democratic nominees, it won’t get past the monster Congress.
EDIT: Maybe first we should try to get congressional districts created by computers and not by humans so there’s no chance of gerrymandering. And yes, humans write code, so make it open source so it can be audited by anyone.
@? Martin: Jill Stein? Do I get a prize?
I’m with you for Instant Runoff Voting, but as with all the bigger problems in our political system, how do you get the members of a system that benefit from the status quo to tear down that status quo.
Hell, we can’t even get our federal election day to be a Federal Holiday.
JMG is right about population, unless you split everything up by congressional districts, which is a horribly unmanageable idea as long as elections are run by the states.
But even if that wasn’t a concern, you’d have to do the reapportionment every 20 years, not every 10. Suppose you started this system in 2020. The next census would be in 2030. A state that was in group 3 in 2020 might move up to group 2 in 2030, and would therefore move from the first primary in 2032 to the last one. Once you start a rotation is needs to say set for one complete cycle of all five groups.
Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class
So the Republicans are at war with each other, and conservative American Catholics no longer have the most sympathetic ear in Rome.
Iowa Old Lady
Trump is in an insult match with the pope.
I’m just trying out that sentence because who could have predicted that one? We live in strange times.
Don’t bother doing it by population. Divide the states up into ten groups alphabetically, have a primary every two weeks (so about 4.5 months for the whole season), order of the groups rotates each cycle.
Of course, any attempt at a rational solution runs into the Iowa/NH ME FIRST problem. NH actually has a state law stating that they must schedule their primary to be first in the nation.
No primaries, no named candidates, no political marketing or campaigning. Publish party platforms not more than two weeks beforehand. On election day, give each voter a red ball and a blue ball.
Somewhat OT, but has Gail Collins always been this snarky? She’s pretty good!
“Here’s the way forward: First, we must secure our border, the physical border, with a wall, absolutely,” he said. “But we also need to have an entry/exit tracking system. Forty percent of the people who come here illegally come legally, and then they overstay the visa. We also need a mandatory e-verify system.
@Iowa Old Lady: Well, Trump has multiple flying vehicles with his name emblazoned on them, but Francis has that sweet Popemobile. We’ll give that round to Trump. On the other hand, not even the YUUUGEST and CLASSSSSIEST Trump property can match up to the Vatican, so Francis wins that.
Guess it’s going to have to go to the tie-breaker round: The dance-off.
IMO, one factor in favor of our current drawn-out primary season is that the first four states are small enough and have cheap enough media markets that smaller campaigns can participate. Let’s say that one of the voting blocks is CA, WA, OR, and NV. There’s no way Obama (or fort that sake, Bernie) wins that block against HRC because his small but highly competent campaign staff could not have demonstrated their chops before they started raking in big bucks.
Iowa Old Lady
@singfoom: I don’t believe Congress has anything to do with how the parties pick their candidates. AFAIK, the parties control it.
Congress doesn’t have any say in how parties apportion delegates or choose their leader.
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
But the long primary is bleeding the GOP out. It’s too awesome.
In my recollection, yes. Collins used to do this dialogue thing on Wednesdays (maybe she still does) where she demonstrated the art of suffering David Brooks gladly.
@Miss Bianca: I’d do away with primaries. Keep in mind that the only other countries where internal party elections are organized by the state are one-party state. In democracies, political parties organize their own internal elections.
The Pope just announced that contraception is allowed to help stop the Zika virus.
I feel like I’m in an alternate universe.
@Iowa Old Lady:
State parties control the actual rules for their states but they do it with “input” from the national party organizations.
I would like to see elections of national officials [president, senate, representatives] be put under federal control with identical requirements for voting all over the place. States can run elections of state and local officials any way they damn well please.
Yes, think about something else. The last two cycles the current system has produced, on the GOP side, milquetoast moderates (by their standards), and on the Dem side the ideal President (by Juicer standards). Why would you want to change that?
Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask, though, because if it were up to me I’d abolish the Presidential system entirely.
@Seebach: Bunch of leeches!
@Russ: I wonder how Rubio is going to explain how an entry/exit tracking system is going to find someone who enters but never exits.
Besides that such a system already exists of course. Is he really so dumb that he doesn’t know that people have to provide their passports for international flights? Has he ever actually travelled abroad?
Antonin Scalia was the Pope of U.S. Republican Catholics.
@MattF: She cut her teeth on New York pols, and LI in particular, at New York Newsday in the 80s. Al D’Amato is still licking his wounds.
@David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch:
And with a minimum of bloodshed.
Everybody needs to realize the primaries are a private event held by the political party. Having Congress step in with specifics is of doubtful legality (although IANAL) and kinda/sorta the same as having Congress step in with regards to the local Lion’s Club election.
Iowa Old Lady
@Calouste: Party candidates are picked by party rules and procedures, not those of the state or national government.
I, too hate the primaries as they currently exist but for different reasons. Democrats can’t seem to walk and chew gum. We had a protracted Bernie v. Hillary retread discussion (which is happening all over the internetz) while the republicans are making their case that President Obama should not be allowed his Supreme Court pick. Since we’re so “distracted”, the repubs. are busy changing reality.
Frankly, I’m disgusted.
@Anoniminous: Primaries are not a private event held by a political party (caucuses might be). Primaries are run by the states, the states set rules for ballot qualification, the results are collated and certified by the Secretary of State or the equivalent highest election official, etc. etc.
How about 4 regional primaries separated by two weeks each.
Rotate who goes first each cycle.
Primaries will be done in two months.
Wonderful idea. Has as much chance of becoming the way we do things as I do becoming the next Holy Roman Emperor.
A better idea. We have a Constitutional Convention without any Republicans and adopt a variation of the Germany and French Constitutions (Parliament/House with 1/2 the representatives chosen at large by popular vote with a 5% popular vote cut off for representation for a particular party and the other half by territorial districts with independents and small parties eligible for election from territorial districts, most domestic executive functions vested in a Prime Minister responsible to a majority coalition in parliament with the military and foreign policy authority vested in a President serving a five year term, no more than two terms in a row. An upper house with authority to delay legislation, but not permanently block it if it passed by House 3 times.) Parliamentary systems are not perfect (I have lived in theme and we can see across the border that even the sensible Canadians had Stephen Harper rule them for about ten years with a minority of popular support and Cameron is ruling the U.K. with less then 40% of the popular vote, but our Presidential and Congress separation of powers system just does not work in when you strong ideological parties, particularly when one party is made up of people who just gone around the bend of sanity.
When there is no internal party democracy we get the sad case of an atrophied party like the Congress in India, which went from a force that challenged the British empire to the fiefdom of one family. Whose current heir to the throne is a thoroughly incompetent politician.
A proposal like this would have prevented someone like Obama winning a nomination in 2008. In order to compete in primaries representing 20% of the population, you’d need to have a massive amount of cash from jump street.
For all the problems that New Hampshire and Iowa present, they do offer certain advantages. They allow retail politics in a way that this proposal wouldn’t. Retail politics allows candidates who don’t already have a big warchest to get into the game. They’re also small enough states that you can run a primary campaign in them without large dollars. With your proposal, that goes out the window because you’re going to have to campaign all over the country from the beginning.
Make it random. Five primary dates as you say, but eight weeks before the first primary date, the names of 10 states are drawn at random. Then, and only then, will candidates know where to campaign. Eight weeks before the second date, 10 more states are drawn. Etc.
That will prevent meaningful campaigning prior to the eight week mark which will compress the campaign and reduce the ridiculous amount of time devoted to it currently.
Iowa Old Lady
Here’s the Wikipedia link for who runs what part of the primary/caucus process. It’s a very mixed process. Here are some highlights:
State governments set some of the rules under which primaries are conducted just as they set rules under which Insurance companies can operate.
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
@Lee: I don’t. The pope and the head of the Russian orthodox church last week.
@Iowa Old Lady: Which wasn’t what I said. I said that primaries are organized by the states, not that they determine the outcome or the rules. And even then, a lot of states affect the outcome or the rules, by determining whether a primary is open or closed or anything in between, by sore-loser laws, ballot qualifications, etc.
Iowa Old Lady
@Calouste: Sorry I misunderstood. It’s a complicated system that even people who pay attention to politics don’t always get straight (including me).
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
South Carolina Poll — Monmouth — Feb 14 thur 16
@KG: New Hampshire and Iowa also have severe disadvantages, such as being rather unrepresentative of the country at large. Iowa largest metropolitan area is ranked 89th and New Hampshire’s is ranked 131st.
Jill Stein is the only candidate for the Green Party.
Fuck that. I understand the desire to have some kind of ranked preferential system, but there are two serious problems:
1) Our ballots are already too complex. Ranked preferential systems may be acceptable when you’re voting for a single office like a member of parliament, but that’s not the case here. I already have to vote for upwards of 20 offices in some elections, which is more than most people are capable of processing well even when they’re just picking one candidate from a list. Going with a ranked preferential system just ads to the complexity, especially if (as its advocates predict) it increases the number of people on the ballot for each office. Making our ballots even more cumbersome will just drive people away from voting, which is the exact opposite of what we want.
2) IRV is far from the best ranked preferential system around, so even if you want to use a ranked system, you should choose a different method of tallying the ballots.
Only if the state runs the election. That’s why in Washington we have a caucus. Washington doesn’t have any primary elections, so the parties have to come up with a way to choose delegates on their own.
The ideal would be every four years for the Democrats to ask me who I like and give me the sole authority for picking the candidate.
Barring that, I think primaries should be over in one month total. Iowa and Vermont can go “first” – by 1 hour, so that Vernal Notch and Happy Hills or wherever can get their press coverage.
Early voting is taking place in GA. I was going to cast my ballot for Hillary this week, but I’m holding off. If it looks like Cruz is on a roll, I’m going to vote for Trump. Cruz scares me the most.
@Calouste: I fully concede that NH and IA have issues, particularly with being representative of the country as a whole. Perhaps there are smaller states that would be better suited to being first, but if you try and run with New York, California, Illinois, Florida, or Texas first, you’re dooming yourself to Bush vs Clinton vs Romney for generations to come.
@Roger Moore: Fine with alternate counting methods. But the problem is that the winnowing process produces other effects – not the least of which is the elimination of other voices in the debate. Just get rid of it.
The problem isn’t the primary process, but the tacit acceptance that there should be a primary process. There shouldn’t.
Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim
@Amir Khalid: It’s become worse for Collins lately. She’s paired with Arthur Brooks of the AEI.
Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.)
I think this makes sense, but I would group the states another way, with the smallest ones going first, and then states voting in turn as their populations go up. That way, the little ones go first, and they get a lot of press, and the politicians swarm to them, since less known ones can have a shot at breaking through, but the big ones mean something, too, since there won’t be many delegates assigned until later. Everybody wins.
I grew up in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania still holds its primary in late April, when the race has been settled already, so Pennsylvania seldom gets to weigh in in any way that means anything. This way, though, Pennsylvania still goes late, but there won’t have been too many delegates won yet, so the voters there get to have a say that means something.
I would be willing to let the first four states, Iowa, N.H., S.C. and Nevada still go first, since there’s no way they’d ever let something like this go through unless they got to keep their super special early elections, and they’re small enough that it wouldn’t fuck things up too badly.
@Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim:
Who did she piss off? AEI should be bombed, then scraped from the planet. Ironically, they’d approve of the bombing.
probably just ideal to have all the primaries/caucuses on one day. general elections used to be on different dates too, now we’re slightly wiser
Campaigns in this country are way too f*cking long, billions of dollars spent in producing the world’s shittiest reality show with nothing to show for it but a broken political system and the lowest voter participation rates in the democratic world.
@KG: Someone in another one of these threads suggested Delaware as an early state. WV might not be bad.
The Ancient Randonneur
Primaries are run by parties at the state level for good reason and mocro-managing the primary process is a waste of valuable resources. We need parties organizing at the state and local level to groom and run good candidates. The 50 state strategy was an elegant solution to address the issue. You’re offering a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. You may not like it because you find the process irritating but it is not broken.
What makes more sense is to have the parties roll out online voting for primaries. The states don’t control primary elections, the political parties control them. By running polling places and updating registrations the state is subsidizing political parties to run a function that is of benefit to the political party. I say experiment using blockchain technology (cryptocurrencies are based on this tech) and make it simple for people to vote. They can use an app on a personal mobile device or go to a polling place with appropriate technology. Elections results would be available a few minutes after the polls close.
The states are critical to the entire process but most especially voter registration. THIS is how it’s done:
True. I can think of no other country where presidential campaigns last nearly two years, for an office whose term is four years.
@srv: They say Trump actually has a 66.6% chance of winning the NV caucuses.
You need to have a few small states before you get to your Super Tuesdays, to allow smaller candidates to compete.
@Amir Khalid: How about each U.S. president gets one term of six years?
@Germy: Lame ducks don’t get to make ANY appointments! :P
Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class
I always thought of New Hampshire as the northernmost suburb of Boston.
Basically, massholes without the couth that is associated with beantown.
@Iowa Old Lady:
Thanks, I know the parties control their primaries, I was mixing the primaries and our first-past-the-post NOT PRIMARY election system together.
Judge Stark once suggested something similar.
Jeb Bush’s saddest moments compiled in one amusing montage:
“Best news today, my mom told me today I’m her favorite..”
“No! Of all my children? No!”
@? Martin: I’d say instead of the primaries, have the presidential candidate decided by what are now called superdelegates, with the caveat that the overwhelming majority of them should hold an elected position (Senators, Governors, Representatives, certain folks elected at the state level, almost no delegates based on party position only). The voters would still have an indirect say, and it wouldn’t be financially prohibitive for a lesser known candidate to lobby 2000 or so individuals for their vote.
@FlipYrWhig: The president would enter the office as a lame duck!
You’d have to amend your Constitution to make that happen. All I’m gong to say about that process is: Oy.
ETA: And would you want 12 years of President George Walker Bush? Because that’s how long his two terms would have come to.
@beltane: In parliamentary democracies, elections and campaign season is fairly short.
No. I should have been clearer. I meant each president is limited to one six-year term. No campaigning for a second term while in office. No lame ducks. Just one six-year term.
@Germy: Why have the President term limited? FDR was one of the best presidents ever!
You’d settle for just six years of President Barack Obama, then?
@beltane: I think at this point it’s a feature and not a bug. Any change to the system is a threat to the existing parties.
@Germy: I think terms should be limited by the voters, not the law.
Add that to the 10,000 other ways that are better than the current system, I guess.
Nothing will change until there is a critical mass that decides a change is required, which will need resolution of the current national deadlock between the Confederates and everybody else.
The primaries and caucuses aren’t federal things. There’s no ‘law’ that says a state has to hold such an event and no law to prevent a state. How the hell would you get Iowa to give up the billion dollars it makes in added revenue every 4 years or make everyone of both parties promise to protect corn? No matter how awful it is for health (syrup) and the environment (ethanol)
How about a primary without a Clinton or Bush involved? It’s been almost 30 years since we’ve been without either of them….
@Amir Khalid: Almost every other country I’m aware of has presidential or parliamentary election campaigns that exist for a limited period of time and are focused on a specific election. In these countries, elections are like the World Cup, eagerly awaited events that garner much interest and attention. Here, by contrast, political campaigns are like an endless loop of Biggest Loser, a dreary saga of exploitative crap that the majority of the population tunes out as much as possible.
@singfoom: 80% turnout would be disruptive to our current system. The 1/3 midterm/1/2 presidential election turnout figures suit the PTB in both parties just fine.
@Loneoak: 10000% right. Cosign, This. Spot on. Truuuuth!!
A big multi-state start would advantage establishment candidates – and remember, our bestest prez evah™ needed the small Iowa caucuses to prove his chops.
So unless y’all got some type of leveling proposal that could ensure that a Carter or an Obama would not be fatally marginalized…Cole’s plan and others like it are flawed enough to be called NUTS.
@siciliandish: Also this lil fact is somehow unknown to too many above.
Pretty much anything would be better than the 16-month three-ring circus we have now.
We could abolish all parties, as the Founders intended, but the Cole plan has a far better chance of success.
@Punchy: It’s only been 4 years actually.
Iowa Old Lady
@beltane: As someone pointed out a while back, we have an extended campaign season because candidates know when an election will be for years ahead of time. That’s not true in a Parliamentary system.
If elections in most countries are like the World Cup, American presidential elections are like a league season followed by post-season playoffs. Except that the season lasts two years.
Trump may surge with Republican Catholics over this, but, believe it or not, the majority of Catholics leans blue by a small margin. You’re skeptical? Keep in mind that the vast majority of Hispanics are Catholic, and they make up a pretty good chunk of US Catholics.
In fact, with the Latino population going from ~20% thinking of the GOP as hostile to them in 2012 to about 45% today, I suspect the number of Catholics leaning blue might have a rather large margin at this point.
So, no, Trump won’t surge with US Catholics overall, but there probably will be an uptick in his support among the minority of Catholics that already lean right.
– signed Religiously Agnostic Irish/Polish/Lithuanian-American Cultural Catholic who knows whereof he speaks.
When 5 term President Obama makes Cuba the 51st state then what do we do?
wow, john; this is almost identical to one i discussed with a friend less than a week ago.
brilliant minds and all that! of course.
@siciliandish: For what it’s worth, I think the corn rule only applies to Democrats. Trump’s big endorser was drill baby drill Palin. Cruz also said something in one of the debates that I thought was very corn-blind at the time (I can’t remember exactly) and it had like zero impact.
And one of those effects is that it produces elections that are manageable for ordinary people who don’t obsessively follow politics. Going to a ballot where there are 20 open offices and 50 people running for some of them won’t produce a vigorous debate. It will produce a cacophony where there are so many voices competing for attention that nobody will be able to hear anything for the din.
Consider the current presidential election as an example. There were 17 Republican candidates, plus 5 Democrats, and a bunch from various minor parties. Do you really think you could do a good job of ranking the candidates? How would you rank the Christian Liberty Party candidates vs. the Independent American Party candidates? Bear in mind that it could theoretically be important because of the way ranked preferential voting works.
Cole’s plan sounds pretty good.
One thing about current system is that starting with relatively small population groups allows candidates to start with very retail politics, which I think is a good thing. Not sure how that would work with a CA or a TX in the starting group. Not sure how to work the big population states into it without making it a big money media circus from the beginning.
One idea is that all the media in the first round of states has to go through BJ blog. I suggest an editorial board of DougJ and BC run things, and maybe Cole too if he behaves himself. Silverman vets national security and foreign policy, Mayhew health care and TaMara (who will recruit Michelle to help out) the candidates’ recipe policies (a sadly neglected but important part of the national scene)..
Will also force Cole to recruit the ennvironmental/climate change guest front poster he nattered about a while ago.
That would mean that not any old JSF would emerge for the Dems and GOP (Sorry, JSF, those are the breaks).
@David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch: If convicted on all counts (probably won’t happen) because of the firearms enhancements those idiots are looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of 82 years, no time off for good behavior and no concurrent sentences.
None of them will ever see the sky without bars or fencing ever again.
Feds are apparently also rounding up a bunch of the lesser actors from the 2014 ranch standoff. Word is not one is going to be left to go free. Bet posting your face and your firearm on the Facespace doesn’t seem like such a great idea now, does it?
Pretty close to it, although the column you link is admittedly a bit more pointed than usual. Collins wrote like she wanted to be a MoDo clone wannabe for about the first 6-8 months she had her column. I don’t know what happened then, maybe she just realized it wasn’t working for her, but eventually she found her own snarky voice and has been pretty good since.
@David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch: Slow and steady appears to have won this race. Count me as someone who was pretty unhappy that Cliven Bundy wasn’t dealt with in 2014, but this is a pretty great outcome.
@Calouste: A system very similar, the caucus system, was used to nominate presidential candidates in the early national period. The candidates would be chosen by a caucus of the congressional members of their party. This system was abandoned as undemocratic and replaced by conventions starting in 1832.
@Linda Featheringill: “I would like to see elections of national officials [president, senate, representatives] be put under federal control with identical requirements for voting all over the place. States can run elections of state and local officials any way they damn well please.”
That is exactly what I want. Exactly.
@Amir Khalid: The fattest country on the planet and we we have opted for our elections to be marathons, not races. What we really should think about is holding elections to be like sitting on the sofa all afternoon watching TV followed by a trip to some place that offers bottomless french fries.
Why not have all the primaries on the same day? We do it with general elections. Let the candidates choose where to spend their time by whatever criteria and let the chips fall where they may. I would like to see a later primary date – June, so everyone has a good look at the hopefuls. Do the conventions in August, and have a couple of months to campaign for the general.
I think there is considerable value to having the early primaries go one state at a time. That give an outside with a great message but little money or organization a chance. If that one does well, the money and organization may come. If the primaries only came in big blocks, only big money would have a chance.
Call me crazy, but I really think this spat with the Pope might be a bridge too far, even for Trump.
On the other hand, a very larger percentage of our population seems to have lost the plot, no longer realizing or understanding how a democracy is supposed to work. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that President Obama would have to (basically) say in a press conference that the other party has to decide whether the United States is going to remain a democracy, and act accordingly. I applaud the president for calling them out.
That is such a fucking easy problem to solve:
Have the presidential election on a different day from state/local elections. Since we’re already giving up one election day (primary) for another, it’s a wash.
Cole is worried about the racial crap – that’s because primary elections aren’t representative. They are subpopulations where any marginal view can be escalated to a majority view. If you eliminate the subpopulations by making the campaign both national and across party lines, nobody could afford to appeal to these marginal views. The primaries allow candidates time to reform their positions to an electorate that never witnessed the original viewpoints. This would end that.
@CONGRATULATIONS!: They’ll be facing those terms until a Republican gets into the Presidency and pardons all of them.
ITYM almost 4 years. There wasn’t one of either in 2012.
@WaterGirl: I wish I could say that, but there are several members of my Parish who are very much for Trump and have strongly negative feelings about the Pope.
Trump isn’t going to lose their support over this.
In fact, I would tend to think the only supporters this might threaten maintaining their support are Catholics, and the vast majority of Catholics who are for Trump don’t like the Pope, so this won’t have much of an impact.
It might be more interesting on what effect it has on those Catholics that support Cruz, many of which are also cool toward the Pope. Might they gravitate over to Trump out of sympathy?
I guess it depends on what you hate most about the current system.
The thing I hate most is that, whether we like it or not, the Presidential race starts the January or February after the previous midterm, but NOTHING CONCRETE HAPPENS FOR A WHOLE GODDAMN YEAR, except usually a shitload of debates where all dozen or so candidates have to be treated as real, even if they’ve got no chance of winning anything.
So the thing I’d like to see most is for a primary or three to go into the odd-numbered year before the election year. It would force some of the vanity candidates out early, and if they weren’t forced out, at least it would give debate sponsors a tangible reason to exclude some of them.
Yeah, I can also get on board with any of a number of systems that tell Iowa and New Hampshire, “OK, you’ve HAD your turn, it’s someone else’s turn to be the BFD for awhile.” But that’s secondary to me.
Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class
You must not be watching my local news feeds. Anti-pope comments are rolling in at a rate of 8 to 1. RWNJs can’t seem to filter their misanthropy or racism, and are happy to pronounce their shit in public – overwhelming comment sections with their posts under their real names.
“Tomorrow Belongs to Me” would get a good airing with them.
Obama has made statements to the effect that the richest and most powerful county on earth can afford to take generous risks – to offer opportunities that other countries cannot afford to get wrong. This was part of the thinking behind Iran – if it goes south, the US is uniquely positioned to correct for it. I think it’s also part of the thinking with the Bundy’s – so long as they aren’t harming innocent people, the US can afford to wait until such time that this can be done with a minimum of harm to the Bundy’s themselves. The solution to the Waco problem was the calculation that the US can stay on their toes a hell of a lot longer than the militia folks can, so long as they can resist the temptation to be baited into a rapid action either by the militia folks or by the GOP. The Bundys may have proclaimed that they could hold out forever, but everyone knows that’s not true. By comparison, ATF and the FBI really can hold out forever, their agents able to go home at night, and even retire with new hires to take their place.
So why not take a generous risk here? We can afford it. No need to be so reactionary.
Iowa Old Lady
@japa21: What’s hilarious is the degree to which the pope does not care what Trump says about him. You can’t get more secure in your position than the pope is.
Automatic voter registration, as Oregon now has.
Same day registration/party switch.
Seconded. I’m thinking John Cole has the right idea of consecutive tiers voting in the primary, but maybe we start with half-a-dozen smaller population states having contests, with an accelerating schedule: two weeks between the first two states, ten days to the third, five days to the fourth, and five days to the next two being held on the same day.
The we move to a successively larger tiers. Divide the states into five groups: the 8 smallest remaining states, the next 9 smallest remaining states, then the next 9 smallest remaining states, then the next 9, finishing with the 9 largest states.
The 9 largest states make up about 50% of the population, so, theoretically, that means the primaries couldn’t be decided until the last day – assuming the convention delegates are assigned proportional to population.
They’d basically enter office a lame duck, encouraging Mitch McConnell to intone: “This lame duck president should not be allowed to nominate…arglebargle….”
Although, he’d finally deliver on his promise to make the president a one-term president.
Now, all you have to do is convince New Hampshire to repeal its law requiring that it be first by at least a week. While you’re at it, can you eliminate the Electoral College?
Gin & Tonic
There’s now been, what, 8 months of “bridges too far”? He’s waltzed over every one without breaking a sweat. I submit there is no such thing as a bridge too far. As Il Donaldo himself said, he could shoot somebody dead on 5th Avenue and lose only that one vote.
@low-tech cyclist: I think it will be hard to limit the duration of political races unless we develop a much stronger party system. Even with much stronger campaign finance laws, as long as a candidate is in stages where he or she can avoid spending lots of money, they can tool around and say that they are ‘exploring’ running (that brought us the wonderful Jeb! campaign). Wouldn’t there be massive free speech problems in trying to limit electioneering, apart from campaign finance laws?
In some ways I like stronger party systems, as in UK, where the party has a much more specific policy proposal platform that is publicly debated. Candidates are forced to conform to a more coherent set of policies that are more well defined. I think that is one reason voters tend to be more well informed and higher turnout in Europe, for example. The stakes of the election are clearer. I have no idea how that kind of system could work in the US political framework, though.
But I hate the never insufferably long and ending campaigns too, and wish there were a good way to limit them.
They aren’t. At least on the GOP side, more solidly red states have proportionately more delegate power:
Texas has 44 at-large delegates, 34 due to the bonuses, CA only 10, 0 due to the bonuses – we’re blue end-to-end. CA still has more delegates due to districts, but winds up pretty close in spite of a sizable population advantage.
Let THEM have the first primary? (better weather than NH in January, for sure…..)
@Gin & Tonic: A large part of the reactionary movement hates the Pope as much as anyone on earth (though maybe not quite as much as Obama, but it is probably a close call).
I see in the news that Limbaugh was ranting that Sanders is conservative compared to Pope Francis.
Trump’s sensitivity is interesting. If Trump had ignored the indirect criticism, or at least have given a halfway thoughtful answer, the thing would have disappeared from view within a day.
I think that if Trump’s over-reaction makes hating on the Pope a regular freak show roadside attraction on the right, it will just cause increasing polarization among the electorate. I guess will force a few religiously moderate and tolerant but politically conservative US Catholics to make decisions they would prefer to avoid. Not sure if that is a significant number of voters, thought.
Edit: but for most sympathetic to Trump on GOP side, it will be Trump >> Pope.
When there’s a marathon system like this one the “lame duck” label appears much earlier because, hey, we’re electing a new President! … more than a year before the sitting one leaves. A few decades back, the race wasn’t even on the collective radar until a couple of weeks before the New Hampshire primary, and then only if there was an upstart challenger. I’d go along with anything, up to and including the drawing of straws and the reading of chicken entrails, to shorten the goddam thing. A few years ago, at the close of a British campaign, a woman being interviewed on TV said, “Thank god it’s finally over. I couldn’t have taken any more.” It had been going on for about six weeks.
The system also encourages — or at least, opens the door for — nonstop horse-race coverage in the media; it’s the top two or three stories almost every day. Meantime, real news is out there, important things are happening … and it’s either buried or we never hear about it.
@Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class:
obama’s ability to persuade republicans to punch themselves in the junk must be rubbing off on francis.
@Punchy: @Roger Moore: FWIW there was a Bush in 1980 as well. I guess VPs don’t run in primaries so ’84 is out.
@? Martin: Late to the party, but it does make sense to answer the questions:
1) What are the primaries/caucuses for.
2) What is the proposed replacement for.
If we just want nationally (or at least large-regionally) known politicians to get on the ballot for President, then primaries/caucuses aren’t needed.
If we want someone without a lot of money, but willing to spend the time to get known in a couple or handful of states (think Jimmy Carter in 1975-1976), to have a chance at winning, then a regional primary isn’t the way to do it – it’s too expensive.
If we want to make the early states more representative of the nation (at the cost of needing much more money to run and become known if an outsider), then Iowa and New Hampshire probably need to lose their special status.
Intelligently done rotating regional primaries make some sense, if they’re drawn so that the regions share media markets and the like. If the states are scattered geographically, then it will not help much (unless the goal is to make campaigns even more expensive).
I don’t think, at the moment, that any proposed calendar changes are going to make much difference in the trends we’ve been seeing – unknown but highly qualified candidates will still have a huge hill to climb; governors and senators will still have a huge advantage; money will still be very important but not a guarantee (and too much too early seems to guarantee failure); and the results from Iowa and New Hampshire will be important but not guarantees for success.
I don’t think doing away with primaries and caucuses entirely is the way to go. We’ve seen what happens when determined fringe candidates work their magic in the back room (Paul’s people in 2008). We don’t want to make that even easier in the future. And if Iowa and New Hampshire end up picking people who don’t win and eliminating people who can, then eventually the candidates will wise-up and not give them so much attention.
I tend to think it won’t hurt the Donald much, if at all. The Donald said not so long ago that he could shoot someone in the street and not lose any voters. As crass as this statement is, he appears to be right.
Great minds think alike Cole. I proposed this same idea on a comment here at BJ several weeks ago.
How do you get the states on board? This is a state not federal decision. You think the party bumpkins in Iowa will easily give up their first in nation status?
@? Martin: @? Martin: I could get behind this idea
I think all you’re doing is trading one evil for a different one. The problem of excessively complicated ballots is real, and it drives away voters. You’re talking trading a system where we have clear-cut but inadequate choices to one where we have some meaningful choices buried in a sea of meaningless ones.
I fundamentally see the party system as a valid, viable way of dealing with that problem. The problem is not with having separate primary and general elections. That lets you winnow down the range of choices so that you don’t wind up with a dozen candidates representing more-or-less identical worldviews. The problem is that the general election is first-past-the-post, which tends to drive things toward a two party system. So maybe some kind of more complicated ballot system (either ranked preferential or some other system that lets people express more than a single idea with their ballot) is warranted, but we desperately need to winnow down the choices to something manageable by an ordinary human mind.
Do away with primaries all together. Parties pick, who will run in the general election. Vote for one party’s candidate or the other party’s candidate.
This is what every other country on the planet seems to do.
It’ll cut down on the perpetual campaign culture.
actually, it;s fairly easy to get nearly equal groups by population and number of “states” once you include the non-state primaries.
I just did a quick spreadsheet that produced 5 groups representing between 64.3 and 64.7 million people ea, 3 groups of 11 and 2 groups of 12.
The moving about due to census results couldn’t be any more chaotic than the quadrennial jockeying for position in the smoke filled backrooms of the DNC.
of the above comments, the Pope just said contraceptives mmay be ok in areas affected by the
Hey Cole you think this is Vulcan where we would do something logical and that makes sense.?
@gene108: what we have now but with closed primaries?
Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class
OT, but did Betty Cracker take a job at JP Morgan as a chart graphic artist?
Steve in the ATL
Then we enjoy our Cuba Libres made with Coca-cola with cane sugar instead of HFCS
RE Trump V Pope mega-match, TPM blog has an interesting recap of Trump comments on Pope Francis.
My favorite Trump tweet (which I hereby dub ‘Twreemp’):
” The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, ”
Except at about the same time, Trump criticized the Pope for doing humble ordinary person type stuff, like a loser. In Trump’s view, the Pope is a Big Shot and should act like one!
Trump Sang Pope’s Praises For Years Before Calling His Remarks ‘Disgraceful’
5 regions with roughly the same population and state numbers:
South Dakota 858469
North Dakota 756927
Alaska 738432 63290327
New Mexico 2085109
Texas 27469114 64290631
District of Columbia 672228
North Carolina 10042802
South Carolina 4896146
West Virginia 1844128
Florida 20271272 64175741
New Hampshire 1330608
Rhode Island 1056298
New Jersey 8958013
New York 19795791 63236226
Ohio 11613423 66425895
of the above comments, the Pope just said contraceptives mmay be ok in areas affected by the
OT but over on WAPO Plum Line there is an article about the stakes involved in the SCOTUS nomination fight. The short version is that the GOP is demanding that ‘advise and consent’ be changed to ‘GOP preapproval of all nominees by a democratic president’. And who says the Constitution isn’t a living document open to interpretation
Iowa Old Lady
OMG, thank you!
@Steve in the ATL:
Groceries on the west coast sell Mexican Coke. Made with cane sugar in glass bottles.
My in-laws are very conservative Catholics. They loved the last pope. They love the current pope. They’ll love the next pope. That is what they do; they love the pope. They are expats, but always vote absentee, always Republican. Even this summer, I was pretty sure they’d never vote for Trump. Now with him attacking the pope I am certain of it. They are not the type to be on twitter or post on FB. And I know a lot more Catholics who are steady GOP voters because of abortion. With Trump squishy on abortion, and now attacking the pope, they won’t vote for him either. They won’t vote Dem, but they’ll stay home.
@Steve in the ATL:
and watch the legal wrangles over Bacardi’s Rum business in Cuba that was confiscated. Those battles will go on for many many years.
@Iowa Old Lady: Don’t worry things will get better and more interesting in every way. How about this for pitch for wacky political black comedy:
Obama nominates the quite liberal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump’s sister, to SCOTUS.
‘ [Trump] has said he believes his sister would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice but also agreed appointing her would be a conflict of interest. That didn’t prevent his opponents from thrashing around over the possibility, though. “The one person he has suggested that would make a good justice is his sister,” Republican candidate Ted Cruz has warned. “She is a hardcore pro-abortion liberal judge.” ‘
The wacky, utterly speculative short list to replace Scalia
I assume Senate would nix that nomination, so it would be nice stunt by Obama. But, he doesn’t do those, does he? He thinks that he is a sensible moderate progressive with great respect for institutions and process and stuff. But his secret identity (does he know?) is a feckless weak inadequate fiendish super-genius with the implacable will and super-human ability to destroy America!, except when he is simultaneously pathetically spineless and incompetent.
Real life is so damned odd. Just this once, Obama should make it a little odder.
Oh good, back to the fucking 1800s for us.
Do any of you understand why the progressive electoral reforms of the early 1900s were so important?
How about the reasons for the McGovern–Fraser Commission and what it’s conclusions were?
Jimmy Carter couldn’t have competed in that set up. Neither could Barack Obama nor Bernie Sanders nor Bill Clinton. No one actually could unless they have tens of millions of dollars in their campaign fund six months to a year before the first vote is cast. So every single President from now on would be some version of Bush, Romney or Trump.
Other than that, it’s a great idea.
Democrats choose from within their ranks who runs.
Republicans choose from within their ranks who runs.
You have to work for the Party, in order to get on a ticket for any seat.
Party bosses have all the power.
A NY Times article claiming Rubio’s polling numbers are “climbing” cites, as its supporting evidence, a NY Times story from February 4th regarding a NEW HAMPSHIRE poll. Seriously.
How do Canada, Great Britain, etc. survive?
They do not have open primaries, as far as I know, like we have here (I could be mistaken, so correct me, if I’m wrong).
You run on a Party’s ticket for the seat or you form your own Party to run.
If you want to cut back on all the campaigns and all the elections all the time, something has to give.
Fewer elections means less money needed to run for office. And a shorter campaign cycle.
Nominees get announced a couple of months before the election and you pick, who you want.
Edit: If you want to cut back on the campaigning it is one way to do it. As it is now, with the lack of campaign finance laws, we aren’t really doing away with the undue influence of the rich and powerful in the election process, so I don’t see a problem with putting things in the hands of each Party. If the candidates they run are not good, they will lose seats in November, so they still have an incentive to keep up with what people want.
@Barney: Good job Barney. You have just completed step one.
Next would you please be so kind as to calculate what it would cost to run a competitive primary campaign in each of those regions. And then for comparison grab some data that shows how much is liken to be spent by an average campaign in Iowa and NH.
I’ll come back after supper.
@gene108: I don’t think that they have American style backroom party bosses, though. They have relatively democratic party conventions where party platforms are chosen and leadership elected, for the government for the ruling party, or the shadow cabinet/government for the party out of power.
A strong party system run by party bosses would very soon turn into the corporate and big money dominance that we have now. You like that?
Your proposal offers a fair and equitable approach to insuring a democratic method of electing our leaders by the will of the people.
I therefore declare it dead on arrival in the context of the current triumph of the corporate oligarchy.
Over and out.
@of the above comments, the Pope just said contraceptives mmay be ok in areas affected by the:
I thought it was simpler: “no nominees by a Democratic president”.
I propose the California Primary. California is a host unto itself, about 12 percent of the US population.
A sequence of California counties can be found that will represent the US, more or less. We can create a sequence of California county elections that will approximate what Cole and others suggest, but on a state rather than national level.
It will produce GOP candidates may be very conservative, but less likely to be completely insane than from the national GOP.
I say, let’s do it.
@gene108: Well, then all the fighting would be over who determines who the party’s pick is, which would probably become a system of apportioning representatives based on a mix of what the party’s rank and file supporters want and what the party muckety-mucks want. Which is what we have now, just organized state by state.
@gene108: I do not see how we make the jump from our version of political parties to the political parties of a parliamentary democracy.
They are different animals.
@Matt McIrvin: So, even if Obama nominates someone more reactionary, corporatist and hackish than Alito, the GOP will not consider, in order to prevent Obama from getting the credit.
Man, that be some real and genuine spite.
@gene108: In the UK it used to be that the party leader was elected by either the parliamentary party (i.e. the Members of Parliament of that party) or by the party congress. In the last decade, both the Conservatives and Labour have move to a system where party members can vote directly for the candidates (who will still have to be an MP already.)
Personally I think the original system was better. It’s not much use picking a party leader who doesn’t have the backing of the people on whose votes s/he relies.
Party bosses maybe a bad use of terms.
But I’m just sayin’ if we want to cut back on all the campaigning do whatever it is they do in Canada or Great Britain to pick candidates for seats.
They do not have primaries.
The Parties have a lot of control over their members and who gets to run. Election seasons there are very short, in comparison to here.
Shorter election season means less money needed for campaigns, in theory.
You could realistically look to publicly fund campaigns, if say people only ran from mid-September, after conventions till early November.
I think the current primary system is a mess.
Part of the problem with voter participation in this country is there are so many damn elections all the time.
Usually each year has at least one election, if not two, such as a school board election, state and local offices, etc. It gets hard to keep track. Some elections in off-off years, held in June, for a school board, for example, have ridiculously low voter participation rates.
Have elections every two years, in November. You can have early voting, mail in voting, etc. With votes finally getting counted after the first Tuesday in November to keep with tradition.
What we’re doing does not (1) give people confidence in the political process and (2) does not lead to better outcomes than other countries.
If folks want to copy the “socialized medicine” of other countries, why stop there? Why not start using some of their political things too that seem to work more effectively than ours.
@JPL: I think it is smart to vote in the Repub primary (when you normally vote Blue) to vote for the Repub candidate most likely to fail against a Democtratic candidate.
@Botsplainer, Cryptofascist Tool of the Oppressor Class: That’s southern NH. The rest of the state is rural, and the western portion is actually politically more like Vermont.
In the “let’s get it straight” department: Congress has nothing to do with primaries. The parties run their own primaries, and make all the rules. The parties could adopt John’s version–which I would like better than the current–or for that matter, one of the parties could do it and leave the other with the current method. Aim your reform at the right target.
@gene108: OK. I think could have a good debate on desirability of Canadian or UK party system in the US. I think a lot to say for it. For one, somewhat more emphasis on issues rather than over-emphasis on personality. I am not a fan of ‘voting for the person not the party’ as long as there is some minimum standard of who can run enforced by a strong party structure.
I think often results in a more coherent set of proposed policies and principles.
Tough question is how to get to that endpoint in US political and legal system? What are feasible changes needed to make it happen? Anyone have any ideas, let me know.
Part of the problem with our political system is people, who do not hold elected offices sometimes wield undue influence. The Party Bosses were (are) people with power within a Party, even if they are not part of the government.
I think maybe allow people, who have or are actually in government to form up nominating committees at various levels to get people onto seats.
Make it as local as possible.
A congressional district would pick its own candidates, for example.
A state wide convention would pick people for Senate, governor, and other statewide offices.
Just food for thought.
@gene108: As long as it doesn’t end up as Mark Hanna versus William Marcy Tweed.
Or, for more recent parallels, Karl Rove versus Tony Coehlo
True as far as it goes–the states run the mechanics, but the parties decide who can run under their banner, when they’re held (within some restraints, like Vermont’s law that says it has to be first), how many delegates and how delegates are apportioned, etc. It’s a f’n mess.
@TooTall: I’ve voted in the repub primary several times, but unfortunately the down side is soliciting by the repubs. ugh.. According to Nate Silver my candidate has a 99% of winning the state, so I’ll probably vote in the repub for my man Trump.
It’s risky. Anyone who actually gets nominated has a substantial chance of winning, regardless of who it is. So you’re potentially helping get the most terrible President elected.
I think this is where you are on to something. Focus on the money.
Shrink the supply of money, and the size of the campaigns will follow. We are one justice away from getting some help, but even then it will take a while. It still may be quicker and in the end less complicated than mandating how political parties act – which might not even be possible.
We should find a way to use the tax code to “encourage” a better process. Have a highly progressive tax on all money collected by PACs. Not much incentive to collect 130 million if anything over 100 million is taxed at 90% and any over 50 million is taxed at 50%. And so on.
If it is unconstitutional to prevent it from being given, would it be equally unconstitutional if it were taxed once it changes hands? Not gonna happen soon, but this might be a way that sidesteps the need for an amendment.
@Keith G: Good thought. Maybe if you can get a SCOTUS that allows Congress to shrink the money drastically (when ideological complexion favorable, maybe after 2020?) then political parties may have power and incentive to move towards Canadian and UK system, as much as compatible with US system?
Probably, realistically, if GOP stays the same, Dems move towards more European approach, and GOP gets itself a boss.
Not a bad idea, but it’s a system that would have to run on a 20 year cycle. If you reconfigure the groupings of states every ten years, you could theoretically cause a situation in which a particular state may not get to be among the first group for many decades if it keeps getting moved around into different groups every ten years.
So yeah, I like the plan, but you should only change the groupings after every five presidential election cycles. Otherwise, the whole point of giving each state the opportunity to be one of the first states to vote every fifth cycle gets messed up by census reconfigurations. Obviously, by the fifth election in each cycle, there’s a decent chance that the state populations might have changed so much that the five groups are now significantly disproportionate in population, but it’s the only way to ensure all 50 states get their turn being first, middle, and last in line every five cycles.
@Keith G: Probably something else PAC-like would emerge in their stead, and have to be regulated all over again, like how limiting contributions to candidates spawned PACs, Super PACs, 527s, etc. But it sounds like a good idea to me (IANAL).
@JBL72: Someone, I think on another blog, suggested having the states with the highest turnout percentage getting to be the earliest primary states. Because the perk of being an early primary state is that you get hotel rooms, TV and radio ads, and so forth. So why not have states compete for that?
@FlipYrWhig: Many good ideas here.
So, I go back to my initial reaction to Cole’s proposal: inescapable conclusion is to have BJ blog run the primaries. No question about it.
i, too, want to see some more polling before i vote. that way i’ll know who to vote for or whom to vote against.
This is the most thoughtful and intelligent post about the voting process that I have ever seen posted on Balloon Juice.
In addition to your suggestions, I’d add the following:
Get rid of all delegates during the nominating process and go strictly with popular votes to determine the nominee.
Get rid of these stupid fucking caucuses and have every state hold primaries instead.
No more voting on Tuesdays, instead voting should take place on Saturday and Sunday.
That’s still not fair to the states that go last or next-to-last, as candidates who may fare better in them may be forced to drop out before they get a chance.
I’m a firm believer that the Presidential primaries should all be one day, all states, using the same primary voting method, sometime in mid-May (Memorial Day weekend would be best). I also believe in a hard-cap campaign cycles of running within the Year of Election itself. None of these goddamn 4-years-starting-before-the-previous-election-is-even-counted screwups where we got people fund-raising NOW for 2020 (or Gods help us, 2024). You can’t announce, can’t raise money, can’t even tweet about it until Jan. 2nd of the damn year you’re running for President. Force the goddamn media to stop covering politics like a goddamn horse-race every 24/7.
@Keith G: I’m sticking to the thread subject, for the moment :) . But at least regional primaries would mean less traveling, and shared media buys in some cases.
Make it a geographical spread of states, and I, a biostat NH resident, am in!
“Dear Mr. President, there are too many states these days. Please eliminate three. I am NOT a crackpot.”
That’s what I’m NOT proposing.
I think we’re pretty much stuck with the sort of cycle we have, where the next nominating cycle will begin in January or February 2019, just as this one began at about the same time in 2015. What I’m proposing is to move a few primaries into 2019, so that some of the vanity candidates can be weeded out early (either by dropping out, or being disregarded by debate hosts), and we can have a longer discussion just involving the candidates that actually matter.
There’s nothing in the First Amendment that says that all the primaries have to happen in years divisible by 4. And there’s nothing in the First Amendment that says debate hosts can’t ignore candidates who draw no support in the early primaries, even if they insist on not dropping out.
The networks will never permit it. They need two solid years of electioneering to pump up profits, with drawn-out primaries to heighten drama and secure eyeballs.
Cole’s proposal sounds sensible.
We should create a post called Comptroller of the United States and appoint Cole to it. The seal of that office would read “Make stuff work.”
Great idea! I’m all for it!
Why the fuck do you care who goes first? Iowa and New Hampshire are completely irrelevant by the end of February. The number of delegates they send to the respective conventions are trivial. And everyone in America (including those of Iowa and New Hampshire) have completely forgotten about who came first, second, or whatever by the time the villagers have moved on to the next horse race. Can you drop this obsessive mental hobgoblin?