A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2013-Onward: End Public Subsidies for Partisan Primaries

Regardless of what political party you may belong to, one cannot escape the conclusion that “primary” elections, particularly at the national level, have been devolving into epic, money-fueled “sh*tstorms” for the last few decades. Every year it’s the same thing – a few small states suddenly become “important” for a few weeks, other states play games moving their primaries to be important, some states still have party caucuses and so on.
It’s hard to believe that it really wasn’t that long ago when primaries were not the main method of selection for delegates to the national party conventions – much less choose in advance who said nominee would be. I’ll skip a long history lesson and simply say this – it’s time to ask if primary elections are effective anymore in a post-partisan era, and more importantly, why cash-strapped states should be forced to pay for what is essentially an exercise by private entities to decide matters related mostly to internal governance.
Having lived in a caucus state in the past, I can tell you that while party caucuses can be a bundle of crazy in and of themselves, they do attract people who are genuinely interested in what’s going on, and supporting a certain candidate or political ideal. In the last few presidential years, participation has increased in caucus states, and I believe even more people would attend if they simply knew where to go (in this example I’m excluding Iowa for obvious reasons).
More importantly, people of a particular party should be the ones to decide their nominees – not lazy sometime voters who only vote based on junk mailers and obnoxious Super PAC TV ads. If they want to let in non-members that’s the party’s choice – but again, I don’t see why the taxpayers need to pay for it (and in the case of caucuses, they do NOT since it’s a party function. Heck Iowa’s GOP makes money off their straw poll!).
But beyond that, regardless of how parties want to conduct themselves, I still have yet to hear a solid answer as to why the state needs to spend millions to conduct an election that’s really just a private organization’s decisionmaking apparatus.
If a party wants to have us use county and state resources so they can have a poll about who they’re supporting as their presidential nominee (or whatever), they can simply raise the big time cash they raise anyway, and write a check to pay the costs. So to be clear – I don’t necessarily want to abandon them altogether – but the subsidy has to be reconsidered.
Heck, why not open up the voting booth to any private group that wants to poll their members? Maybe this is a money maker counties and states are passing up?
Seriously, it’s time to end the public funding of these moneybombed storms of tv ads, mailers, and more. It’s fine if the Democrats and the Republicans want to have their fistfights and their precious primary elections – they can simply reimburse the taxpayers so it’s one less burden on us when we really can’t afford it anymore.

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