Friday, July 22, 2016
AMERICA’S SYSTEM OF SELECTING ITS PRESIDENT IS ESSENTIALLY, FATALLY FLAWED
It has never ceased to amaze me that the geniuses who founded our Nation by publishing that magnificent document of human liberty, The Declaration of Independence, and who then proceeded to craft the world’s first authentic and viable Constitution which enabled our Federal Republic to be born failed so miserably in devising a system for selecting the President of the United States.
From the beginning, after the virtually unanimous selection of George Washington to be the first President, the selection of the person to occupy the highest office in the new Republic degenerated into petty partisan politics controlling the process of selecting a President.
One would have thought that the eventual creation in the mid 19th Century of a two-party system of political organization would have facilitated a smooth process. But what we have witnessed in the primaries of 2016 is proof that we do not have a real primary system, we have organized chaos.
The problem has its origin in the fact that there is not really a national system of primaries, there is a chaotic delegation of the control of presidential primaries to the separate party organization each of the 50 states. The result of such delegation is true chaos.
Here is what the National Conference of State Legislatures has to say about the chaos:
The laws governing state primaries are complex and nuanced to say the least, and state primary laws have been a cause of confusion among voters and election administrators alike.The manner in which party primary elections are conducted varies widely from state to state.
In general, a voter seeking to vote in a closed primary must first be a registered party member. Typically, the voter affiliates with a party on his or her voter registration application. This system deters “cross-over” voting by members of other parties. Independent or unaffiliated voters, by definition, are excluded from participating in the party nomination contests. This system generally contributes to a strong party organization.
CLOSED PRIMARY STATES
Delaware Nevada Pennsylvania Florida New Mexico Kentucky New York Maryland Oregon
In this system, state law permits political parties to choose whether to allow unaffiliated voters or voters not registered with the party to participate in their nominating contests before each election cycle. In this type of system, parties may let in unaffiliated voters, while still excluding members of opposing parties. This system gives the parties more flexibility from year-to-year about which voters to include. At the same time, it can create uncertainty about whether or not certain voters can participate in party primaries in a given year.
Partially Closed Primary States Alaska Oklahoma Connecticut South Dakota Idaho Utah North Carolina
This system permits voters to cross party lines, but they must either publicly declare their ballot choice or their ballot selection may be regarded as a form of registration with the corresponding party. Illinois and Ohio have this system. Iowa asks voters to choose a party on the state voter registration form, yet it allows a primary voter to publicly change party affiliation for purposes of voting on primary Election Day. Some state parties keep track of who votes in their primaries as a means to identify their backers.
Partially Open Primary States Illinois Tennessee Indiana Wyoming Iowa Ohio
A number of states allow only unaffiliated voters to participate in any party primary they choose, but do not allow voters who are registered with one party to vote in another party’s primary. This system differs from a true open primary because a Democrat cannot cross over and vote in a Republican party primary, or vice versa. Some of these states, such as Colorado and New Hampshire, require that unafilliated voters declare affiliation with a party at the polls in order to vote in that party’s primary.
Open to Unaffiliated Voters Primary States Arizona Massachusetts West Virginia Colorado New Hampshire Kansas New Jersey Maine Rhode Island
In general, but not always, states that do not ask voters to choose parties on the voter registration form are “open primary” states. In an open primary, voters may choose privately in which primary to vote. In other words, voters may choose which party’s ballot to vote, but this decision is private and does not register the voter with that party. This permits a voter to cast a vote across party lines for the primary election. Critics argue that the open primary dilutes the parties’ ability to nominate. Supporters say this system gives voters maximal flexibility—allowing them to cross party lines—and maintains their privacy.
Open Primary States Alabama Michigan Montana Vermont Arkansas Minnesota North Dakota Virginia Georgia Mississippi South Carolina Wisconsin Hawaii Missouri Texas
California, Louisiana, Nebraska (for state elections) and Washington currently use a “top two” primary format. The “top two” format uses a common ballot, listing all candidates on the same ballot. In California and Louisiana, each candidate lists his or her party affiliation, whereas in Washington, each candidate is authorized to list a party “preference.” The top two vote getters in each race, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Advocates of the “top-two” format argue that it increases the likelihood of moderate candidates advancing to the general election ballot. Opponents maintain that it reduces voter choice by making it possible that two candidates of the same party face off in the general election. They also contend that it is tilted against minor parties who will face slim odds of earning one of only two spots on the general election ballot.
Top-Two Primary States California Nebraska (for nonpartisan legislative races only) Louisiana Washington
States may have radically different systems for how they conduct their state and presidential primaries: some states hold their state and presidential primaries on the same day, some hold them weeks or even months apart, and some hold the two primaries on the same day but have different rules for each primary. See NCSL’s State Primary Types Table for which state primary rules also apply to presidential elections.
The best example to prove that this is a chaotic system of presidential primaries in the 50 states is that it has produced the present insane situation of the Republican nomination of Donald Trump and imminent nomination of Hillary Clinton.
I will use Texas as an example to show how this came to pass since it is the State in which I reside.
Texas is an open primary State. That means that anyone who is registered to vote, regardless of their past voting in one or another of the parties, could cast a vote in either the Republican or the Democrat primary.
In the Spring of 2016 when the primaries were held, Donald Trump was leading in the polls for the Republican nomination. Similarly Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls for the Democrat nomination. Since it was obvious at that time (before the email scandal really broke) that Hillary was a shoe-in for the Democrat nomination, some of the Democrat party leaders in Texas urged Democrats to cross over and vote for Donald Trump in the Republican Primary since it was their belief that Hillary would easily defeat Donald Trump in the General Election in November; more easily than having to defeat Ted Cruz or one of the other Republican candidates. So what happened?
In the Texas Republican primary in 2012 there were 1,449,477 votes cast. In the same Primary in 2016 there were 2,836,488 votes cast – an increase of 95.69% in the total number of votes cast. There can be no doubt that many if not most of those additional votes were the votes of Democrats wanting to make sure that Donald Trump would do well in the primary. And he did. Trump got 26.7% of the vote, not enough to totally defeat Ted Cruz, a popular Senator from Texas, but enough to weaken Cruz’s appeal in the other primary states. Cruz got 43.8% of the votes in Texas.
If this could happen in Texas where Trump was pitted against native-son Cruz, it is easy to imagine how easily Trump won the majority of votes in the other fifteen states that allow open voting which permitted Democrats to pick Hillary’s opposition in the General Election in November.
The widespread crossover voting that occurred in so many states in the Spring Primaries of 2016 enabled the Democrats to pick the Republican Nominee who they believe Hillary could most easily defeat.
The mantra heard so often during the days before the Republican Convention that the delegates would not be allowed to vote their consciences but had to vote for the candidate they were pledged to in the primaries was the death knell of the Republican Party in 2016.