Michigan wants to move its Democratic primary to 15 Jan 2008, one day after the Iowa caucuses and before Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. In addition, the Florida primary is on the same day as South Carolina, 29 January. The DNC has decided to strip Florida of all its delegates, and is encouraging presidential candidates not to campaign in Michigan or any other state that holds a primary or caucus before “the four”: IA, NV, NH, and SC. Richardson, Biden, Dodd, and now Edwards and Obama have signed the pledge not to campaign in Michigan and any other like-state.

I wrote a while ago on the dangers of the primary schedule we face next year. It is encouraging to see some body with power fighting back against this system that has spiraled out of control. More, however, needs to be done.

Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign manager and member of the rules and bylaws committee of the Democratic National Committee, writes in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on why Florida was stripped of its delegates and that the system needs a massive overhaul for the future. Quote:

Our nominating process is supposed to yield the best possible candidates for the most powerful position in the world. Unfortunately for all of us, it is a deeply flawed system in desperate need of reform. Recent proposals to create a regional rotation system in 2012, or the “Delaware Plan” to allow smaller states to go first, should be on the table for discussion starting this fall.

As we begin to contemplate the calendar for 2012, and the rules that will govern that process, both major parties must craft a system that makes sense for voters and candidates. We can begin by setting a reasonable starting date I suggest the time when the snow gives way to tulips and daffodils. We can make sure the nominating schedule does not unfairly favor the rock stars of politics. And we must make sure the campaign finance laws allow more than just the candidates with deep pockets and ties to big donors to be competitive.

That last statement in her article is becoming more and more concerning. From the NYTimes blog:

[…] to campaign in large states like Michigan and Florida, while also stumping in the approved early states, would probably require significant ad buys in expensive media markets. The campaigns of Senators Obama and Clinton may be able to afford that the others can’t, regardless of strategic priorities for either retail politics or mass messaging.

Any overhaul of the primary schedule in the future MUST be met with overhauls in campaign finance. Not just reforms. Overhauls. So far in this election cycle, all the presidential candidates have raised a combined total of just under $300 million. There is absolutely no reason this amount of money needs to be collected, and certainly not this early into the cycle.

The Founding Fathers certainly didn’t envision nor want running for political office, and surely not running for president, to be about who can raise the most money. Running for office is supposed to be about the most qualified candidate, regardless of anything else.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when just anyone could decide to run for office. Now you need money, money, and more money. In today’s system, only those with money or those with connections to money can run and win. A very sad reality, one which will likely get worse, because money is power. Those with money have the power. Those without want it.

Until Congress and the major political parties can wake up and act on both the primary system and campaign finance, we’ll continue living in the same corrupted system, a system bankrolled by millionaires, corporations, and other wealthy, politically-inclined organizations.