Pushing back the Primaries: Don Means leads the National Caucus for 2012 Reform

by Laura Kirshner // Published August 1, 2008
The next presidential election year is 2012, so we ought to have a full four years to recover from this past primary season extravaganza, right? Well, unless we do something now about our presidential nomination process, we will likely see campaigns firing up in early 2011, and we'll start heading to our polls and caucus meetings before we've even had a chance to take down our Christmas decorations or to light our Menorahs.

Still, you might think to yourself, "We've still got three whole years before we need to worry about this stuff!" But, the truth is that we need to start this conversation now if we want to have a realistic opportunity to change the system before the next election.

Leading this crucial conversation is the National Caucus for 2012 Reform headed by Don Means. His site at www.NationalCaucus.org emphasizes the importance of effecting change now by working with the GOP and Democratic parties to change their rules:

"The good: The body politic now has a taste for the authentic participation it has long yearned for but hardly expected. Safe to predict this appetite will remain after the primary season concludes.

The bad: Voting in 2008 primary season came within an eyelash of starting in 2007. Even as 20+ states crowded into the first permissible date, Feb. 5, their choices by then had already been reduced from 12-15 to only a few. In this de facto national primary, there was zero opportunity for any but the most well known candidates to have a chance.

The ugly: No reform happens for 2012 unless the Republican Party first adopts a new calendar at their convention in September. The Democrats allow themselves more time but will have few options for change since the GOP will be unable, by rule, to respond."

There are a number of reform proposals under discussion, but there is little agreement about which proposal is best for voters or about which is the most practical to pursue. However, one thing that has achieved wide consensus is that the primary season must start later.

As Mr. Means points out, our last chance to effect change for 2012 is at the 2008 GOP convention this September, during which the nomination schedule for 2012 will likely be decided. According to Means, to do this we must:

-Call on every state chair of both parties to issue a statement of position for their state party. -Call on every secretary of state and even governor, to issue a position statement by late July. -Solicit editorial comment from every major outlet. -Encourage widespread blogging on issues. -Foster ad hoc groups to meet and discuss as well as invite any political/civic organization to include 2012 calendar reform as agenda item for already scheduled meetings.

With these clear action steps, and with a definitive goal in mind to get the GOP to delay the start of their nomination schedule, we can move forward with the process of fixing our primary system.