I've long written that the Democratic Party needs some shaking up and some new avenues for a real insurgency to finally bring the party back to its roots. And I think the idea of making some different states more prominent in the presidential nominating process is a very good one – especially the idea of giving the primaries some Western influence. As the New York Times recently pointed out, the Rocky Mountain region has a lot to teach the national Democratic Party about winning progressive/populist politics.
That said, we need to be on the lookout for those who are trying to use the current primary process negotiations and the desire to shift the primary process to actually make the process more insular, and less conducive to insurgent forces. What am I talking about? Well, just look at the states the DNC is considering moving up ahead of New Hampshire – they are Nevada and Colorado.
Those are great states that would offer a lot if they became more important in the nominating process. However, they are caucus states, not direct election primary states. And most who have worked on campaigns will tell you, the caucus process is far more under the thumb of the party establishment than direct election primaries. In other words, frontloading the Democratic Party primary process exclusively with caucus states (regardless of the virtues of any of those particular states) could actually make the primary process even more impossible for candidates outside the establishment to compete.
Look, I'm not saying having Iowa and New Hampshire as the two major primary states is perfect. But I am saying that if we are going to shift around the map, mess with how presidential nominations are awarded, and further frontload the process, we should be looking to states with direct election primaries. At the very least, we should make sure there is an even split at the beginning of the process between caucus and direct election primary states.
The Democratic Party establishment is insulated enough as it is. We need reforms that aren't going to further empower the party big wigs to anoint a nominee – we need reforms that are going to open up the process to populist insurgents that will kick the establishment into gear and finally start winning elections again.