Presidential race starting in January?! Blame Pennsylvania
It turns out that Pennsylvania, and our Western PA neighbor Crawford County is to blame for this whole primary system juggernaut now upon us. If you read this before you can skip it, but below has been my primary season post in the past with the summary of how Pennsylvania history now impacts the nation, if not the world. Just consider, a century ago, the whole primary idea was still considered an experiment. Maybe democracy is a perpetual experiment.
For more you can read Western Pennsylvania History: The Origin of the Direct Primary: The Crawford County System. Volume 60, Number 2 (April 1977) , 145--158
Which then makes you wonder why do we have primaries at all? Plenty of modern democracies do not hold primaries.. Not even all states in the US have primaries. The caucus system is still in use in Iowa as we will all re-learn a year from now. Can you imagine a caucus system in place here? It turns out that the direct primary system got its start just outside of Pittsburgh. Crawford County, Pennsylvania created the direct primary in 1842. The local Democratic Party had a chaotic and ultimately failed county convention that year whereupon no slate of candidates was nominated. In the machinations that followed, they ultimately dealt with the situation by allowing all Democrats to cast equal votes for who would represent the party in elections that fall. Seems like a normal enough idea now, but it had never been tried that way before. The idea was so well liked that it transformed from a provisional measure to the permanent method of selecting party nominees. While the idea spread throughout the state and nation, it was not an overnight change. Pennsylvania would not have a comprehensive law requiring primaries until 1913.