Friday, May 30, 2008


Post 12:

This year the Democratic Primary has been one of the most interesting on record. Short of the 3rd presidential election there has never been an election this close and this interesting. Sure, we though 2000 with Bush V. Gore was close but it is nothing compared to what we have today. 150 pledged delegates separate two candidates, a popular vote difference of less than 1million which is arguably the opposite of what it counts as now. This is clearly one of the closest elections we have had, and, like the rest, it is vastly undemocratic. Caucuses: What Really Grinds My Gigantic Notched Wheels.

Caucuses are originally how we picked our nominees from the main political parties for president. The party elites (all rich white men) would sit in rooms, smoke some cigars, and then nominate a person at the convention. Frankly, this worked pretty well, as it let people who knew what they were doing run the system, and notice that we had some damn good leaders before we changed it to what we have now. Currently, however, the caucuses system has become one in which the people have a say. This sounds like a good move, however, it has three inherent problems with it: They do not allow every person to have a say, let alone the chance of one - they have too much power (especially in a state that also has a primary) - they are undemocratic.

They do not allow every person to have a say, let alone the chance of one:
Caucuses are held at one location, at a specific time, in each area. That means that one school, one church, on house (sometimes) is where you need to go, at the moment the polls close, and be there for several hours. Very few people can commit the time, or make the drive to these locations. Furthermore, what about voters that are overseas, in the military, or unable to go that far physically? Do they suddenly not matter? Caucuses are created to let the elite (who, until this year, were all that went) in control. So, our primaries are run by voting processes that do not allow any people who can not make it, for any reason or for a good reason. That seems like a great idea *rolls eyes*.

They have too much power (especially in a state that also has a primary):
Really, there is no need for a paragraph here, simply a presentation of some facts:
Texas Primary - C, 1,459,814 - O, 1,358,785, difference of 101,029 votes - C gets 65 delegates, O gets 61 - C net gain of 4 - each delegate is worth 22,370 votes

Texas Caucus - C, 18,620 - O, 23,918, difference of 5,298 - C gets 29 delegates, O gets 38 delegates - O net gain of 9 - each delegate is worth 635 votes

Now, lets look at this, Clinton beat Obama via a combined total of 96K, yet Obama got 5 more delegates over all. That is obviously a fault with this system. Furthermore, you can see that the worth of each delegate changes, creating a logical problem. Obviously, caucuses have too much power and are extremely illogical.

They are undemocratic:
So, I have already shown that they are worth less than a popular vote, that they have too many delegates, and that they don't let everybody vote. That said, they do far more that clearly shows that they are undemocratic (as if that was not enough). The way that the caucuses work is that they have you vote for your person, then, if you have less than 10% of the vote, you can revote for somebody else (after their leaders try to talk you over to them). To me that is bull. Right, so 635 votes to a delegate instead of 22K AND a fair amount get revotes. So, we have a democracy where the current losers get to revote to pick new winners. How the hell is that democratic?

What needs to happen is pretty simple, both parties should move this to straight primaries, as that is the most democratic thing that could happen.

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Kadim said...

There's quite a lot to say about the caucus v. primary thing. Many people do agree with you (in fact, the Progressives running the Ohio Constitutional Convention at the turn of the century did and Ohio is one of the few states that requires all parties, constitutionally, to have a primary. I guess that's fine for the major parties, but it's an enormous pain when small parties get ballot access and have to have a primary (typically because it requires the party to get ballot access an extraordinary time in advance.)

On the other side of things, the reason I don't like primaries is that they give the bill for what is an internal party selection process to the taxpayer. I can't help but feel, with such a system, that the Democrat and Republican parties are just two parts of the government. I don't think that's a good position for a democracy to be in.

Having said that, that would imply that I would be more comfortable with primaries if the parties footed the bill and established their own rules and the Secretary of State carried out those rules. That probably would be the case.

Barga said...

You complain about the primaries being hard on third parties yet then propose that they need to fund it themselves? That seems slightly contradictory

Kadim said...

Sorry, I could have been more clear about that. That last paragraph only had to deal with major parties.

Third parties, on the other hand, don't need (and from what I've understood--do not want) to have primaries. In almost all other states, their candidates are selected at state conventions.

Barga said...

I think that all parties should need to follow the same rules, and that they would need to be state run (to not run afoul of Bush V. Gore)

Kadim said...

What do you mean by state run?

I'd be fine if they all followed the same rules...alas, they don't. The ballot access restrictions on minor parties are horrific.

Barga said...

The way that they are now basically.
I think that any person with more than 1000 signatures should be allowed on the ballot, of any party, provided they are registered with it.

Kadim said...

Defined "provided that they are registered with it."

1000 is pretty steep. Very little in Ohio requires that. I think 100 is fine.

Barga said...

1000 means that they have a chance in the election, so that should be the standard

I think that you should need to be registered to a party to vote in their primaries

Kadim said...

(I'm continuing this conversation because I think it's interesting...I hope you don't mind.)

I don't think 1000 means anything. There are states with congressional signature requirements in the tens of thousands for minor candidates who won't get anywhere, and a congressional major party candidate in Ohio needs 50. (25 for a minor.)

Instead of using some silly signature count requirement as a standard of electability, why not put the person on the ballot and know...the election as the standard of electability. :-)

I can't say I am a fan or pre-registration for primaries (a concept which basically doesn't exist here). I prefer as open primaries as possible.

Barga said...

Why would I ever mind, please keep it up, this is fun (and jump to other posts if you so like them)

I simply want 1000 so that we keep from having every person who wants to have a small section of CNN devoted to their name from running

Kadim said...

Well, CNN really doesn't give minor candidates much attention anyway. I don't think that's much of a concern.

It's not like France, where the TV networks are required to give every candidate for president equal time during any one week. (That's a law.)

I don't support that law exactly, but I would support a variant of it (any time a candidate gets over any other candidate from news media should be converted into an "in-kind contribution" and listed on the candidate's campaign finance report.)

Barga said...

Freedom of the press, very simple responce

Kadim said...

Well my variant recognizes freedom of the press and continues (in my opinion) to maintain it.

However, it also recognizes that if CNN devotes 6 hours of (positive) time to candidate X and only 2 hours of time candidate Y, then the extra four hours are a huge boon to candidate X and should be recorded as an in-kind contribution.

An unlimited in-kind contribution, but an in-kind contribution nevertheless.

Barga said...

SO, everything should be fair?
tell that to bill o'riley


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