econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 06 February 2016

Why The US Presidential Primary System Is No Way To Run A Democracy

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Michael Patrick Cullinane, Northumbria University, Newcastle

The US baseball season is infamously long. Each team plays 162 games from the first week of April to the last week in September. October is reserved for the playoffs and the World Series. Then there's the pre-season: spring training starts in February, and the multi-million dollar trade deals consume much of the preceding winter months. November tends to be quiet, a reflective period to consider the year gone by and speculate on the one ahead. Yet the marathon season that follows, fans anticipate opening day as if it were the only event in the calendar.

America's other favourite pastime, politics, works in much the same way. The Iowa caucuses are opening day, and if you believe all the hype, they can seem as important as the November main event. And then, once Iowa's done with, everyone suddenly remembers the season is actually very, very long.

This would be less absurd if every election were not talked about as if it were exceptional. Journalist E J Dionne called this year's road to Iowa a "painful" implosion of party coalitions and public anxieties that demonstrated the end of political certainties. But when has this not been the case?

Iowa's bizarre caucus system and the seemingly endless media frenzy have encouraged political mayhem since the state took its place at the start of the calendar in the 1970s. The unexpected is generally to be expected: think of Rick Santorum's razor-thin win in 2012, or Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee's more convincing ones in 2008, or the litany of "remarkable" second-place showings by anti-establishment candidates such as Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan.

Hyperbole and hype

The "opening day" hyperbole quickly dissipates post-Iowa. The political season only begins in earnest when a bloated field of candidates starts to shed some dead weight. And for all the ink spilled over how this year is "different", the same process is already well underway.

After nearly being knocked into third place by a surging Marco Rubio, the political poetry surrounding Donald Trump is already evaporating. Before Iowa, Jeet Heer, Charles Krauthammer, Linda Feldmann, and Liam Kennedy were all calling him the new Barry Goldwater; Newt Gingrich and Rich Lowry likened him to President Andrew Jackson, and the Donald "shrugged off" comparisons to Hitler, Mussolini, and Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort.

There must be more to democracy than this. Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Now, as Trump campaigns in New Hampshire, those comparisons ring rather less true. And while a blowout New Hampshire win could revive him, Trump's own wisecrack that "no one remembers who came in second" might well materialise, as some already prepare to write off his candidacy as a historical blip.

Others, such as Martin O'Malley, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, have already suspended their campaigns after abysmally poor Iowa returns. Many Republicans polling in the low single digits in New Hampshire may well do the same.

A corrosive process

Today's primary process has a deeply insidious effect on the country's democracy. Even though Iowa and New Hampshire have relatively small populations and very homogenous demographics, they attract disproportionate attention from candidates and tend to set the tone for the long campaign.

Additionally, voting methods vary wildly from state to state. Open primaries such as South Carolina's do not require voters to be affiliated with a party, and the spectre of one party's supporters voting disruptively in the other's contest is often raised by unhappy losing candidates. More astoundingly still, some primaries elect non-binding delegates to national conventions who can defy the will of the electorate if they so choose.

The principle behind directly elected presidential nominees was designed to do away with bossism, or the nomination of candidates in smoke-filled rooms of white, male, privileged party patrons.

This tendency was at its worst back in 1912, when the first primary elections took place. Theodore Roosevelt won nine of the 13 states then participating in primaries. Although Roosevelt served seven years as a Republican president, he wasn't the establishment choice; the party ended up re-nominating the sitting president, William Howard Taft, in spite of the primary results.

But even the direct election of presidential nominees has regularly been subject to establishment review. "Compromise candidates" such as Warren G Harding, John W Davis, Wendell Willkie, Adlai Stevenson, and Hubert Humphrey, as well as boss favourites such as Alf Landon, Thomas Dewey, and Walter Mondale clinched their party's nominations despite losing or barely winning primary elections.

In especially close contests, notably the marathon 2008 Democratic nomination battle, questions tend to arise about voting irregularities This year's first iteration of this problem is the coin tosses used in the shockingly close Democratic Iowa caucuses. Whether or not they affected the results, such methods are surely a mockery of representative democracy.

There are some obvious changes that could fix these problems. End the slow-drip of elections by grouping states in large blocs to ensure national participation; force states to elect nominees via fair ballot processes standardised across all 50 states and territories; and either insist that national convention delegates vote according to primary results, or do away with the anachronistic delegate process altogether.

But of course, these are the very elements of the nomination process that make it lively, exciting, and attractive to new voters. And that is, in another very real sense, truly democratic. After all, the Trump and Sanders campaigns have seemingly brought thousands of first-time voters into the process.

The lull in excitement will come. The nominees will emerge. A winner will eventually be crowned. But, with Opening Day out of the way, it's worth pausing to consider the absurdity of the political pre-season - and to wonder if this couldn't all be done a little better.

The ConversationMichael Patrick Cullinane, Reader in US History, Northumbria University, Newcastle

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Opinion


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Are You Feeling the Economic Surge?
Big Mess in Italy
News Blog
What We Read Today 04 December 2016
How Much Money It Costs To Make Money
Multiple Jobs Needed To Make Ends Meet
The Final Crisis Chronicle: The Panic Of 1907 And The Birth Of The Fed
Is There A Gender Wage Growth Gap?
Moving Averages Can Identify A Trade
Infographic Of The Day: Hobbies That Will Make You Money
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 05 December 2016
Early Headlines: Green Pty Cancels - Then Appeals PA Recount, IRS Serves Summons On Bitcoin Co, Most Mfg Jobs Lost To Automation, 2017 US Hosing Outlook And More
The Smartphone Market Is Not A Two-Horse Race
Italy's Referendum: What's At Stake And What You Need To Know
There Were Over A Million Casualties At The Somme
The Best Countries In The World
Investing Blog
How To Invest When The Fed Destroys Capitalism
Technical Thoughts: Manage Risk
Opinion Blog
Why Did Trump Win? A Different Perspective, Part 3
Jobs Without Disruptions Through Concordian Economics
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
02Dec2016 Market Close: WTI Crude Climbed Back Up To Previous 51 Handle, US Dollar Index Trading At The100 Level, Oil Rig Count At 10-Month High
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved