Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?
Readers of my blog probably realize by now that I assiduously try to avoid political discussions. That’s ironic, because my third most read blog is the one in which I renounced my lifetime affiliation with one of the Big Two U.S. political parties. That post way back from October 14, 2013, received 11,790 views, and it averaged 649 hits a day over the course of the final eighteen days of the month in which it was published.
With that amount of success into my one and only foray into politics, why do I avoid a repeat?
Because too many people today, quite frankly, are either too ill-informed or far too immature to handle an adult conversation on this vitally important area. Want proof? Just look at the comments section attached to almost any online news story. Even if the story has absolutely nothing to do with any elected representative, you probably won’t be able to get past three or four comments before some mental midget discovers a nonexistent “connection” that allows him or her the opening to start attacking a high-profile politician — president, presidential candidate, senator, congressman, etc.
If you’re one of these people, then please feel free to forego this week’s blog posts. You’re not going to enjoy the bursting of your bubble, the subsequent eye-opening education into what’s going on, the thoughtful conclusions, or Friday’s call to arms. But my readers are as a whole a very intelligent lot, so I doubt I’ll suffer too great a loss in readership for the week.
Still with me? Good. Here goes:
The two major party presumptive nominees for president of our nation are in my view the two worst choices during my lifetime. And most people with whom I’ve discussed this are in ready agreement. I’m not going into what I consider each candidates’ most telling flaws, because what is important to me may not be what you perceive to be each candidate’s most glaring flaw. What’s important is that poll after poll shows that as a whole the electorate are not happy with the choices being forced upon them during this election cycle.
But, how can that be? Don’t we get to select the candidates for which we’ll be voting in November? No, we do not. That’s the biggest lie of our current selection system. Our candidates are selected by a very narrow segment of an even narrower-minded group of individuals, even though you, the taxpayer, gets to foot the bill for their party. That’s right. You read correctly. Your state pays for each party’s primary (we’ll get to caucuses in a moment) using funds supplied by you through taxes and other revenue streams. But did you actually get to vote in both the Republican and Democrat primaries, even though you footed the bill? No, you did not.
Depending upon the rules of the party in your state you may have had to “declare” as a Republican or Democrat to vote in that party’s primary, which automatically denied you the ability to voice your opinion on the other choice. What if you consider yourself an independent? In some states you might be allowed to vote in one primary or the other, but probably not both. In other states you get no voice in either selection. That flaw in the system has produced a situation in which Donald Trump is one of your choices despite only garnering 6.1% of the vote (both primary and caucus) of all eligible voters in the country, and 9.1% of the vote of all registered voters in the country. And the other candidate? Hillary Clinton is only marginally more “representative” of the electorate’s true desires. She garnered 7.2% of eligible voters, and 10.8% of all registered voters.
So, come November, your choices come down to two highly flawed candidates who were thrust upon you by only 13.3% of all eligible voters, and 19.9% of all registered voters, even though you footed the bill for the primaries in which you were denied a voice in one, the other, or both depending upon state party rules.
You may be asking, well aren’t those numbers representative of the general population, sort of like polling a small sample of people to get a sense of the population as a whole?
No, they are not, and for this reason: By the very act of limiting participation to party loyalists, or making an independent choose participation in one party’s primary over the other’s, you have just ensured that the overall majority of the people given a voice are the most radical elements of that party. There is no voice being given in this system to the vast majority of Americans. Those “independents” as a whole are much more centrist and balanced in their views, understand the concept of compromise, and don’t treat elections as blood sports. Rather, the vast majority of voters’ primary consideration is country over party rather than the other way around.
What about states with caucuses? Caucuses are a dying breed because they’re funded by the state party rather than the state taxpayers. Nevertheless, now you have an even narrower group of even more rabid individuals making the selection of candidates with which you’ll be saddled come November. That’s just the nature of the caucus beast, in which only the most partisan get any voice at all. Everyone else is left outside the doors.
Wednesday: Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term
A note on how I arrived at the percentages listed above:
There are about 218,959,000 eligible voters in the U.S. Of that number about 146,311,000 are actually registered to vote. In Republican primaries and caucuses as of there were 28,587,461 votes cast, of which 13,300,863 went to Donald Trump. Thus, Mr. Trump clinched the Republican nomination with 46.5%. On the other side 27,834,830 people voted in Democrat primaries and caucuses. Hillary Clinton received 15,805,136 of those votes. That means Ms. Clinton secured the Democrat nomination with 56.8% of the votes cast.