004 – The Defamation of the Electoral College (part 3)

A Two Party System – Two Horse Race

The United States’ political scenario is dominated by two “major” parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Our political environments is a duopoly (monopoly of two). Many voters will go to the polls in November believing they only have two choices. Our history show us that the overwhelming majority of the Presidential elections have been a two horse race. Why two?

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party secured their position as the duopoly by the mid 1800’s and further solidified it in the 1900’s. The Republican Party’s first presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln, in 1860. The Democratic Party was founded in 1828 and held it’s first convention in 1832.

In 2016, the Democratic “horse” and the Republican “horse” will be the survivors of a too long, too expensive, too superficial and yet too overexposed process. The media’s coverage of the Presidential Primary is all the proof we need to confirm their dominance.

The media moderates and host the debates. They put world and national news behind their primary coverage, polls and results. The media’s coverage is for just two of the Political Parties. Why is our choice, for arguable the most powerful person in the world, “limited” to just two?

The Party

It may be helpful to understand the evolution of Presidential Party Politics. The Party is not a part of the government, it is a private corporation. Parties are not mentioned in the Constitution. A Party, faction, is contrary to the ideals of free independent thinking individuals that the Constitution promotes.

The Party has a political purpose. It’s purpose is to advance it’s ideals and the brand. The office of the President is the most visable and most powerful position to accomplish this goal. Why else would it cost billions of dollars?

The Songs of the Sirens – The Convention and The Primary

The Convention is a necessity. It acts as a gathering for the party members to nominate a candidate. It is the venue to declare it’s latest political policies, the Party’s platform.  Finally ,the convention is a pregame pep rally to inspire the members to unite behind it’s chosen candidate

The primary is a tool  used by only the two “major” parties. It is a measuring instrument used to determine the voter’s preference.

The Convention

National Party leaders and the states political bosses were the only players in the early conventions. State party bosses controlled the party’s delegate selections. In the 1800’s the conventions were used to select the candidate and to unite the party members support behind it’s candidate. A lot of deal making took place behind closed doors and rank-and-file  members had little say in the process.

During the Progressive movement in the early 1900s, several politicians began making demands for change. The voting members of the party became disenchanted with the Convention system. They felt left out and were not involved. They demanded more influence in determining it’s Presidential candidate.

In the late 1800’s a push for a primary process, popular vote, started and quickly expanded. The idea was that popular vote would determine it’s state delegates for the Convention. It was an attempt to promote popular opinion over the Party’s political machine.

In 1912, the muscle of the party bosses were flexed  when former president Theodore Roosevelt challenged incumbent William Howard Taft. There were 10 states that held primaries. Roosevelt won nine primaries compared to Taft’s one and he captured over 40 percent of the delegates. Despite this, Taft  won the nod of the party bosses and got the nomination.

In response to the bosses power move, more states began to adopt primaries and caucuses. The Primary system did empower the voters with a voice but the bosses still held the trump card. The state primaries were viewed as an “advisory,”  a “beauty contest,” or, in the case of many caucuses, “a straw polls”. They were to gauge the candidates popularity, but were not necessarily key to getting a nomination.

As much as the process changed it remained the same. The political elite were still in control when it came to selecting the “Party Nominee”. This became very clear in 1952 when the Republican Party nominated Eisenhower over Taft. Then again, in 1968 when Humphrey was nominated by the Democrate Party.

At the 1968 Democratic National Convention Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination over Eugene McCarthy after not running in a single state primary. The call for reform came and the Democratic Party lead the way. The Republicans also did their version of this dance.

Reform of 1974 and the 1980’s

The reform of 1974 was aimed to bring uniformity to the delegate selection process and to give greater influence to the “marginal voice”. The reform was aimed at more representation of women, minorities and young people. This they felt would limit the power of the bosses.

The 1972 Democratic primary was the first campaign of the “modern” era. The results of the reform was the nomination of US Senator McGovern as the Democratic Candidate. McGovern  lost in a landslide to Nixon, 49 state to one. Then 1976, in the wake of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, when any Democrat could have been elected, the Democrats nominated Jimmy Carter.

Both McGovern and Carter were not the favorite of the bosses. Carter did not do well as President and in 1980 he was steamrolled by Ronald Reagan. Reagan won 44 states to Carter’s six. This time the bosses called out for reform.

The 1984 reforms brought on the age of the superdelegate. The influence of the Party elite was fortified. The superdelagate was just the remedy for the political bosses. The Republican party has their own version of delegate control.

Reform gave the Party leverage to create a more stable and predictable nominating process that favors the mainstream candidates that endorses Party policies. In reality, they exist “to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists.”

Battleground Cleveland and Philadelphia

Sometimes the unexpected happens. The Party is caught by surprise.  Outsiders like Trump and Sanders sudden appear. They are able to sneak in adroitly  and dodge the Party’s barriers. Trump mainly due to his personal financing and Sanders mainly due to a void left to oppose a dishonest and unlikable Party favorite, a grass-roots candidate.

Both Trump and Sanders are in conflict with the political “mainsteam”. Their conflict may culminate with an outright battle for power at this years convention. The political elite and the party’s candidates, versus the outsider and their supporters. The outcome will most likely generate more cries for reform.

More Reform! – “You can’t shine shit”

When I as a younger man I worked for a mason as a laborer.  One day we were short a bricklayer.  I was put on the line to help build a wall, to lay brick. I struggled and lost a lot of production time by redoing and trying to fix my work.

The foreman noticed my lack of production. As I was trying to make my section of wall look good, he approached. “What I was doing?”. I told him I was trying to make it look good. His response is a saying that has stuck with me for over 40 years.”Son, you can’t shine shit!”

Reform is not the answer to a corrupted two party system. The solutions is to expand the number of choices.

Most casual observers have been persuaded to believe that only two parties offer a viable vote for the Presidency. For 62 years I have been a victim of this propaganda. Our political field needs to be expanded to a third party, a forth party and maybe even a fifth party candidate. Wait they exist!. Why are we unaware of the other parties,  the “minor” parties? Why do we feel it would be throwing a vote away?

One major advantage in a monopolistic system is that the Duopoly owns the promoters, the media. The promoters ensure that the customers are not aware that they can go elsewhere.

There is a need for more diversity in political ideals. The Duopoly does not offer a choice. Both parties promote a large hostile government, with an out of control spending habit and employ worldwide imperialistic intervention. These are policies, as a Patriot, I can not support. Quite frankly, they embarrass me.

It’s a difficult task to battle a two-headed monster. There are many embedded obstacles to hurdle just to get to the battlefield. In the next blog these obsticles will be examined.

 

003 The Defamation of the Electoral College (part 2)

 

                                           The Presidential Election process                                                    Ch-ch-ch-changes; Time may change me;
But I can’t trace time

There have been Amendments to the Constitution that have affected the Presidential selection process. Most of the Amendments have focused on voter eligibility and the right to vote. The 12th Amendment changed the process of selecting the Vice President. The 17th Amendment changed the selection of US Senators from being selected by the State Legislature to a popular vote.

The real changes that have affected the Presidential election process has been the process itself. With the emergence and domination, of a two party system, the nomination process has expanded. In the early 1800’s, elected representitives nominated the Presidential candidates. The selection of candidates was not party based, it was merit based.

Today the candidate selection is dominated by the two “major” parties with their Party Primaries and Conventions. Party Primaries and Party Conventions are now the road to the Presidency. Has this journey corrupted the founders’ intent?

Partisan politics –  The Two Horse Race

George Washington was nominated and selected (appointed) President without a popular vote. In his farewell address, Washington warned us about the danger of party partisanship. In Federalist Paper Number 9 and 10, Madison and Hamilton also warned us about the dangers of “factions”. It appears that these warnings fell upon deaf ears. All three of these founding fathers viewed partisan politics as dishonest, self interested and dangerous.

The 1796 “election” was our country’s first contested Presidential Campaign. There were as many as 10 candidates. It should be noted, only two states held a popular election to “help” the State Legislatures and Electoral College members decide their candidate. The two leading candidates were candidates of different political thought, John Adams, the Federalists, and Thomas Jefferson the Democratic-Republican.

Adams won the first bout but in 1800 Jefferson won a rematch. The results of these elections gave us the 12th Amendment. In 1804, the 12th Amendment was ratified it changed the selection process of the Vice President. It also clarified which Congress, the outgoing or the incoming, would be involved in the confirmation process. A significant outcome of these elections was the birth of bipartisan politics, the two party system and a winner-take-all trends began.

At this point, the Presidential Election process was a lot simpler than it is today. Each state’s contingent of  US Congressmen would caucus to select it’s candidates for President. The results of this caucus would be sent back home to their State Legislature.

The State Legislatures would received the results from their Congressmen to evaluate and discussed the proposed candidates. The State Legislature would then pass their selection on to the Electoral College members.

The Electoral College members would go to Washington DC to cast their vote. The majority winner of the total number of electoral college votes would become President.

The Electoral College (EC) Vote – They really do select the President! 

1800 – 1820: State Legislators controlled the EC vote. Several states began experimenting with a district based selections and a popular vote or a combination of all three methods to determine how the EC should vote.

By 1820: This is the last election in which state legislatures played a dominant role. Political parties were becoming the dominating power influencing the EC vote. This marks the end of an independent EC.

1824: The majority of states used the winner-take-all statewide method to determine EC vote. All the EC vote from the state would go to one candidate. (as opposed to proportional votes).

1836: All but one state, South Carolina, uses the winner-take-all method based on the statewide popular vote to choose its electors.

1872: For the first time, every state holds an election that determine it’s EC vote. The EC vote was winner-take-all rule based upon the popular vote. This marks the first real modern day National Presidential Election.

1876: Colorado is the last state to conform to a popular vote to determine its EC.

Present: All but 2 state, Maine & Nebraska, have a winner-take-all outcome based upon the states popular vote.

The early nomination and selection process did not include primaries and conventions. They would come later. Most of us view the primaries and conventions as a necessary stage for a Presidential candidate to master. They aren’t!  The primaries are only a stage for the”major” parties.  Both “Major” and “Minor” parties do hold conventions but they are not required.

The Democrat and Republican Parties use the primary as a “beauty” contest to expose, to the public, it’s candidates. The results of the primary supply the Party with the national popularity of the candidates. They also serve to gain delegates for the convention. The convention is the political bosses show to actually choose their Party’s candidate. The media compliantly goes along for the ride.

The reality is that the Democrat and Republican Party are not the only parties. However, they appear to be the only “viable” choice. There are many parties. The Libertarian Party, the Constitutional,  the Green Party and the list goes on. Does the main steam media cover or promote* any of the “minor” party?  Who covers primary elections or conventions for the Libertarian and Green Party?

The Duopoly

Political parties are private corporations. Most corporations sell a product(s). The Party’s product is an ideology represented by a person, it’s candidate. The Party’s ideal are called the planks and the complete package of ideals is the Party’s platform. The difference in ideals or platform usually helps to distinguish one party from another.

History has shown us that the popularity of a party change over time. The Federalist Party disappeared, so did the Whig Party, the Bull Moose Party as well as the Know Nothing Party. Parties disappear because their platforms become irrelevant or their platform does not represent a large enough faction of the population.

Are the Democrat and Republican platforms distinguishable?  Does the voting public have a real choice? Is voting for a “minor” party candidate “throwing your vote away”?

Next –  The conventions and the primary system of a duopoly. (a monopoly of two) 

*John Stossel, of Fox,  moderated and televised Libertarian Party debates. For the most part the minor parties are ignored.