Candidates, why the rush to drop out?
© Getty Images

Let me start by pointing out the obvious. To be nominated by the Democratic Party for president, you need to get 2,382 delegates. To be nominated by the Republican Party, you need to get 1,237 delegates. This will not change!

ADVERTISEMENT

I bring this up because I firmly believe that the nominating process for both parties is fundamentally flawed. Right now, if you lose one caucus or one primary, you are considered by the media as permanently damaged goods. (Anybody but Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBarr: 'I haven't looked into' whether Ukraine meddled in 2016 election Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference MORE, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles Hillary Clinton documentary to premiere at Sundance MORE or Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE). Right now, if you exceed expectations (Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Group of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE, Ohio Gov. John Kasich), you are on the rise and a sudden contender. It should not be that way and it doesn't have to be that way.

Let me make once again a college basketball comparison. The college basketball season is a long one. The 351 Division I teams play about 30 regular season games. Then they all (with the exception of the Ivy Leagues) participate in a postseason conference tournament. Then, if they are one of the 68 teams that make the cut into March Madness, they can play up to six more games (seven if they are one of the "play-in" teams).

The national champion who will be crowned in the first week of April will have played more than 40 games. It's not over in an instant. One or two or a whole bunch of bad games won't eliminate you from getting into the coveted tournament. But in this crazed political setup, a few bad losses eliminates you from staying in the game and going to the convention and competing.

I'll be more specific. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent more time in New Hampshire than any of the other Republican candidates. He finished a "distant sixth." He has decided based on that one experience to "take a breath" and suspend his campaign. Whatever I think of Christie and his views, I urge him to stay in there.

The same goes for Kasich, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Rubio; even dreadful Carly Fiorina (who has since also dropped out) and uninformed Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon Carson'Housing First' approach won't solve homelessness crisis Clarence Thomas blasts his Biden-led confirmation hearings: 'The idea was to get rid of me' Affordable housing crisis demands urgent, sustained action MORE. They should not allow the media to push them out just because of a few bad showings. If their candidacies have merit and substance, they should have enough confidence to continue and fight on. If they believe in themselves and the issues they are raising, they should seek to get an audience for those views.

The nominating season is not just to achieve instant glory and success, but to educate and inform, convert and convince. I just can't stand the idea that a few early wins by Trump or Cruz finishes off the rest of the field. There are later primaries where some of the candidates can do well and even win, but we and they will never know if they drop out.

As for the Democrats, why can't others drop in? For instance, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE of Massachusetts, Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday Pelosi announces support for new Trump NAFTA deal MORE of Ohio, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Key House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills 'Granite Express' flight to take staffers, journalists to NH after Iowa caucuses MORE of Virginia or Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Overnight Defense: Dems unveil impeachment articles against Trump | Saudi military flight students grounded after shooting | Defense bill takes heat from progressives | Pentagon watchdog to probe use of personnel on border MORE of Minnesota. Both conventions are in July. There's plenty of time for them to mount a campaign and make their case and let the delegates look them over and make a reasoned judgment. What's the hurry? We are nominating someone to be president.

Call me naive, unsophisticated, unrealistic. I would love to see an open convention where men and women of independent minds and hearts examine the candidates and their views and then make a sound decision. It doesn't have to be on the first ballot, either. The general election follows in November. Why does everything have to be settled so fast? Life doesn't work that way. Why does picking a president have to be any different?

This whole process is not supposed to be just for the convenience and benefit of the candidates, the Republicans and the Democrats, and the networks. No, it's supposed to be for the people of America. Let's for once try it another way. It very well might produce far better candidates and, in the end, a better president.

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.