GEORGAKAS PRESENTS HIS POINT OF VIEW
Dino, a theme in this year’s presidential campaigns is that mass media commentators are manipulative. I find them less manipulative than uninformed, lazy, and unimaginative. Much of their commentary sounds like a quick read from Google laced with political gossip. The chatter about a “brokered” or “open” Republican convention is an example.
Unless a party has a sitting president up for reelection or a candidate arrives with a majority of delegates, all conventions are “open.” Presidential conventions began in the 1830s. Many of them many began with several candidates with pledged delegates. The word “brokered” suggests chicanery, not dealmaking or compromising. If there are brokers in 2016, who are they? What are their motives? How do they operate?
If Donald Trump has not won 51% of the delegates by the time of the Republican Convention, he is not automatically entitled to be the nominee. The normal response would be for him to try to win over delegates pledged to other candidates, as delegates are free to change their vote, especially after the first ballot. In 1924, the Democrats had 103 ballots! Trump, however, has opted to play the bully boy by warning that if he enters the convention with approximately 45% of the delegates and is denied the nomination, his followers would likely riot.
Cruz has the ludicrous notion that all non-Trump delegates should switch to him if he has the second highest number of delegates. More common in such situations is to find a third choice who can unite the party and positively represent its collective wisdom. Worth noting is the Republican convention of 1860 began with five candidates. On the third ballot, the man who began with the lowest number of delegates was nominated. Yeah, you guessed it: Abraham Lincoln.
The disputes now straining the Republican Party reveal the great flaw in the current nominating system of both parties. Rather than primaries being a vote of party members, in most states, independents and even members of opposing parties can vote to determine who wins delegates and thereby sets a party’s perspectives. Caucuses are even more problematic. The number of total voters is relatively small and nonparty members often are a majority of the voters.
A convention is most useful when it only involves people who are dues-payers and otherwise active in party affairs. Such delegates would determine the candidates and policies of their organization. The general public would decide on the merits of those choices in the general election, not in primaries and caucuses.
The jumble of closed/open primaries and caucuses, some with winner-take-all rules and some not, is absurd. Considerable funds and time are needed for candidates to campaign in states located in widely distanced regions voting on the same day. Far more efficient would be to create five regions with the region voting first rotating from election to election. That would result in states such as California and New York to periodically be in the first region to vote. The dynamic set by states vital to the national economy might be quite different than that now shaped by Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
You won’t hear much about the flaws in our present system and possible reforms on Sunday talk shows or cable shows on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. They are too busy treating the nomination process as a horse race. Largely missing in their presentations are detailed examinations of the proposals, past performances, and disinformation offered by the candidates. This is a poor way to evaluate those seeking to lead the world’s most powerful nation.
Dan, though you have pointed out quite a lot, and quite correctly of what is wrong with our political process, the scary thing is that is only the beginning. Our two-party duopoly is in many respects an unholy alliance pretending to compete with one another, yet when the chips are down, banding together for their own mutual convenience. Not unlike a small town with two food stores, each promising to be the best value in town, while both secretly agree to sell food slightly past the expiration date because, “after all, where else are the customers going to go?”
The reason American voters won’t shop around for a better party and a better candidate, is because the one thing both major parties are really good at doing is making the other one look bad. It’s no longer about “I’m the better candidate,” it’s “you’d better not vote for him/her, because (s)he’ll destroy America!”
Scared to death of political change, the voters – compliant sheet that they are – will elect either a Democrat or a Republican almost 100 percent of the time, instead of choosing from among dozens of perfectly good third parties, and then complain that things never change.
Turning to the parties themselves, it is easy to make the case for which is worst: on the one hand, there are the Democrats, whose brand of “grown-up” politics is admirable, but who have handed us a sorry roster of presidential candidates. A mere four: two who never got started, a self-avowed socialist, and a perpetual phony panderer.
The Republicans, in my view, have a far more talented field. In fact, their 2016 field was the best I can remember since at least 1980. Except for one major problem: talent aside, this bunch behaved, with rare exception, so horribly, so selfishly, so petulantly, that they brought tremendous shame upon their party and upon the country as a whole. Our choice, then, is between polite incompetents and capable boors.
Making things even worse was the ridiculous pledge that Republican candidates signed at the beginning of the process, promising allegiance to the nominee and vowing not to run independently or with another party, which was a poorly camouflaged effort to ensure that Donald Trump – if he were to fare poorly in the early going – would not take, say 10 to 15 percent of the voters and jump ship, thereby making the difference to handing the election to the Democrats.
Proving yet again the Republican establishment’s cluelessness, Trump has outshone everyone to this point making it look easy, effectively embarrassing career politicians who thought they had the nomination in the bag. Now, most of those sore losers are doing everything in their power to subvert the inevitable nomination of Trump, thereby breaking the pledge. And behind the scenes, the establishment bigwigs are subverting the process even more heinously.
Nonetheless, regardless preference of candidate, the fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have dominated the Republican side, and Bernie Sanders has mounted a more-than-respectable challenge to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, is ample proof that the voters are finally sick and tired of establishment-run back room politics.
Much like religion, though not faith, is on the decline, with the mantra being “I’m into God, not religion,” perhaps politics is following course, with voters proclaiming: “we’re into candidates, not parties.”
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?