Early Nevada Caucuses a "Hare-Brained Idea," Declares Prof. Ken Bode
August 11, 2006August 11, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - "For reasons not entirely comprehensible, the Democrats have decided to add a little sex and glitter to the 2008 presidential contest," writes Ken Bode, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University. "To reduce the longstanding lock held by Iowa and New Hampshire on the opening events of the campaign season, the Democrats' rules committee voted to wedge the Nevada caucuses in between those states."
In his weekly op-ed in the Indianapolis Star, Bode argues that an early Nevada vote will diminish an already problematic presidential primary process. "For years the press and public have complained that Iowa and New Hampshire have vastly too much influence on presidential nominations in both parties. Beginning even now, the candidates and reporters are spending every spare weekend in those states; when the actual voting begins, the race often is over once Iowa and New Hampshire have had their say. In an effort to grab part of the action, other states have rushed to move up their primaries and caucuses to the point that the system is now dangerously 'frontloaded.' A presidential nominating process that ran from February through early June is now over in three or four weeks, far less time than the voters need to sort through the 10 or so candidates in each party."
Nevada's move up on the primary schedule, championed by Senator Harry Reid, will give the state more attention and clout, Dr. Bode writes. "Unquestionably, the early states have an important edge on policy questions. Since Ronald Reagan, and probably before, New Hampshire Republicans have demanded that presidential candidates "take the pledge," meaning sign a promise not to raise taxes under any circumstances. In Iowa, candidates of both parties have had to promise to support farm subsidies for the development of ethanol, fuel from corn."
Similarly, Bode declares, presidential hopefuls will have to take early stands on issues in Nevada. He imagines, "the candidates might talk about the system of legal brothels by county option, a system that has worked there for 50 years. Or, they might be asked about the efforts of sex workers in Las Vegas to form a union. Or, do they support the idea of putting EDT machines for cash withdrawals for welfare and food stamps in grocery and liquor stores, as the gaming industry has proposed? It is said that the Democratic Party has a moral values problem. Adding images of flying dice and spinning slot machines with the surrounding sex industry isn't likely to help."
In conclusion, Bode declares, "Reid's hare-brained idea will embarrass the entire Democratic Party. The best solution in the short run is for the presidential candidates to ignore the Nevada caucuses and stick to the old schedule."
Access the complete essay by clicking here.
Ken Bode talked with a Nevada newspaper Wednesday about the implications of an earlier primary. His previous Star op-ed previewed the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Connecticut between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman.Back