A new plan for the presidential race

Friday, August 17, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:53 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009
David Rosman writes a weekly opinion column for the Missourian.

Columbia, “Dere otta be a law!”

Sorry for the Brooklynese, but I am a bit upset. It seems that one of the political parties in South Carolina decided that they should hold their primary on Jan. 19, 2008. (I don’t want to name names, but do the initials GOP mean anything?)

No matter the reason, an over-inflated ego, misguided self-esteem or the discovery that the South Carolinian primaries mean little to the rest of the country, the starting block has been moved.

New Hampshire is forced to move its “First in the Country” primary forward to December 2007, along with the Iowa caucuses, so both remain as the nation’s first focal point. The selection process for the candidates for president of the United States will be over by the end of the first week of February 2008, a full seven months before the national conventions. The conventions will be deemed meaningless, reflecting badly on the wonderful cities of Denver and St. Paul, the hosts to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Worse, the presidential race will be three-times longer than national campaigns past. Nine months of bad commercials, negative campaigning and special interest issue ads, name-calling and bickering, fundraising and more fundraising and on and on. You will be asked for your hard-earned money to support one of the two (or more) presidential candidates, who actually started their campaigns early in 2007. The money spent will be used to by more ads, an amount equal to the gross national product of Guatemala.

How long should the citizens of this great land endure these cruel and heartless conditions? How many months must we continue to suffer the name-calling, polarizing and meaningless debates before some brave soul stands up and screams, “Enough is enough! Stop already.”

The need to start earlier and raise more money will trickle down to Missouri politics, to those very patriotic men and women running for state and local offices on shoestring budgets. Even these political races will be forced to start earlier and suffer financial burdens never seen before. Fewer and fewer candidates will run for office because of the time constraints required to run a race and to raise the millions of dollars to purchase even more advertising. Money that can be put to better use.

We need to demand real limits on political and issue campaigning. There ought to be a law, one that limits a campaign to no more than nine months. Total! Money cannot be raised until the ‘start’ date. Campaign

contributions and expenses need to be limited to, let’s say, $50 million for president. Anything raised or spent beyond that will result in a financial fine equal to the overage and contributions beyond the limit confiscated. That money will be given, in equal parts, to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program and to the U.S. Department of Education to repair and build new public schools and to enhance reading and math programs.

Primaries will be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, except for Iowa and New Hampshire, who will hold their “First of the Nation” primary and caucus the week before. The national conventions will be held the second and the fourth full weekends of July. That would leave a mere 100 days for the selected candidates to get their message out. If Hillary, John, Barack, John, Mitt and Rudy need more than 100 days to tell us who they are, we don’t want to know.

There is more. If you want to know, write me. I answer my mail. What is more important is that We the People will no longer be held hostage to negative, insulting and degrading political rhetoric for any longer than necessary.

Two years of campaigning is too much. There ought to be a law.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at

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