October 16, 2016 at 12:04 pm #363
Those of us who have been long time regulars on GOP Lifer know very well one of the major narratives of this campaign has been attack of the outsiders. Trump gets the GOP nomination, and Sanders gives Clinton a much tougher fight than anyone expected. We also know that the two parties have major differences in how they select their nominees, and the Dems are better insulated with proportional assignment of delegates per state rather than winner take all, and superdelgates.
Here’s a reminder of how all the vote totals broke down for each party, using the top 2 candidates for each:
Candidate Hillary Clinton/ Bernie Sanders
Delegate count 2,842/ 1,865
Contests won 34/ 23
Popular vote 16,914,722/ 13,206,428
Percentage 55.2%/ 43.1%
Candidate Donald Trump/ Ted Cruz
Delegate count 1,441/ 551
Contests won 41/ 11
Popular vote 14,015,993/ 7,822,100
Percentage 44.9%/ 25.1%
Obviously Clinton won the nomination out right; she clearly got the most votes. I haven’t bothered to figure out whether Sanders would have done much better if the Dems had a system like the GOP, but if we’re going with the notion that the voters decide, there’s nothing to argue in the results. Likewise for Trump; he got the most votes, even if it was a plurality rather then a majority.
So, the question I pose to the forum is, what, if anything, should the major parties change about the primary process? Here’s my take, I don’t object to outsiders in principle, but I have very strong objections to people who are not qualified, who are running for ego, or vendetta, or to hawk a book to be able to be taken as seriously as people who are qualified and muck up the process so badly. Think of any other job that requires great expertise and experience. Any obviously unqualified person doesn’t even get their foot in the door. I think the two major political parties ought to consider what can they do to prevent their resources from being hijacked. The Dem’s system is obviously better insulated, but what else could you do? Could you restrict who can claim the party’s brand? For example maybe the GOP says, if you want our stamp of approval as a candidate in our Presidential primaries, you need to have an actual GOP track record. Have you held any offices as a Republican? Or how many years have you been active in the GOP grassroots- organizing/campaigning/contributing? I don’t find it unreasonable at all for the Dems or GOPs to say no to Donnie/Bernie-come-latelys. Skin in the game. Outsiders are still free to run as Indies/ 3rd party and build their own grassroots.
October 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm #368
I always thought the Bernie boys were wildly optimistic about the outcome for their candidate in somebody else’s party. Truly, did they expect the party’s organization to go to work for a candidate who never once claimed the party? Make an investment in their candidate when they themselves had never invested in the party? Silly, silly. But I never felt the ideas Bernie brought forward were not worth considering.
OTOH, I feel the Republican party owes America an apology. Their candidate is the worst American they could possibly put forward. And yet he’s here, obfuscating, puffing, make our skin crawl.
In debates, he offers nothing of substance. In fact, I’ve noticed that journalists frequently turn his listical recitations into whole sentences in an attempt to explain his positions, which is more than the candidate does. I’m hoping the Rs pay big time for this candidacy.
Our two-party system needs reform. But that, too, takes political investment. Those not willing to do the necessary work to make it easier for other parties to participate — that includes me at the moment — by default must work in the system as it exists.
October 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm #375
Note that I’m not an expert on the mechanisms of political parties, so apologies in advance if these are not viable (but please explain why in a reply).
I think that the parties have two levers they can use in the future:
1. Official recognition
2. Debate participation
If there is some form of ‘Official Recognition’ committee that decides who is an ‘Official’ Republican or Democratic candidate, and thus who is listed on the official web site, etc., then the media will get in the habit of calling outsiders “unofficial candidates” or “rogue candidates”.
Also, if the party decides who will participate in debates (as opposed to allowing the networks to set the criteria) then unofficial candidates will be excluded from the traditional public vetting process.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Neil M. Reason: Grammar
October 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm #393
Important question, Fly, which brings us full circle to this year’s election debacle. The other posts offer good ideas to which I offer a few.
The political parties are private entities, however, tax dollars are available to presidential candidates (primary and general)and for other election expenses (such as convention security). This is not an unsubstantial amount of money. The $3 income tax donations for elections have declined from a high of over 28% to a little over 5%. Recent changes in campaign donation laws courtesy of Citizens United has also changed how money flows into the parties and campaigns. The cost of campaigns and running the parties has been changing, and that is one area that I would like to see addressed with reform of the primary process. Private donors and large PACs expect to have a great deal of input into campaigns and they would likely not cede that privilege regardless what rules were put in place.
That would not, however, have prevented Trump from entering the primary as he mostly self-funded during the primary. Which brings us to your question – How can the primary process be changed to avoid political hi-jacking? As private parties, is there any right for public input due to tax payer funds being utilized by the candidates and the parties? That could be researched. All such funds that are taxpayer generated are distributed by the Treasury and audited in terms of expenditure. Could more be done in this area? I don’t know.
The next suggestion is a little trickier. Could the political parties agree (contractually) to meet the same, specific basic criteria beyond that which is stipulated in the Constitution? Would such criteria apply to all levels of political office – local, state and federal, or just to the most important position, that of president? Stipulations could include disclosure of tax returns for a set number of years; criminal background checks (yes, really!); business affiliations, sperm count (just kidding!)…
If the focus is the office of president, possibly the parties could reach agreement as to certain basic qualifications, and then exceed them through exceptional candidates. I would not want to eliminate a person from seeking the presidency because they had no political experience. There are people who could make the transition from business experience to public service and do a fine job. From a party perspective, it would seem they would want to better control who is eligible to run under the party banner as you suggested, either by years in party service or political experience. There also could be conduct/decorum rules that the candidates would have to agree to (much like participating on forums). That would have nixed Trump quickly. Independent candidates will always be left out and I do not know how to address that situation.
It may be that we are trying to “fix” a political process that simply needs to be changed. Chris’ idea of a parliamentary form of political governance seems to lend itself better to more small operations and would scale decision-making accordingly. Sheer numbers in our major parties of necessity create rules and power brokers (just like government) simply to manage the process. The parties become institutions and it is much more difficult to make changes.
October 17, 2016 at 2:10 am #399
The theory of “super-delegates” was that elites could veto an obviously unacceptable candidate. Yet it seems clear that they would not dare to pull that trigger. Maybe in a 51/49 case, but even then it would be problematic, because an overridden majority (even a small one) is probably going to be a lot more mad than “legitimately” defeated minority (even a large one). Political self-preservation prevails.
I think the GOP winner-take-all bent helped Donald a lot. With a more proportional approach, he probably would not have locked it before the convention. But he was still going to get the most votes, and the most unruly constituency, so he would not have been overridden at a brokered convention.
Winner-take-all would have benefited Hillary even more, I think, in the Dem contest. The thing about the proportional format is that once one player gets out in front, it’s hard for the other to catch up. In most years someone with Bernie numbers would have dropped out by March. The several extra months of attacks from the left (which, even if Bernie pulled some of his punches, still raised questions that the GOP could not have brought up so effectively) and unwarranted questioning of nomination legitimacy were seriously damaging to Hillary.
Trump is a pretty unique figure and media presence. But there was also a pretty pernicious confluence of factors in the GOP primary. Many credible candidates. The emergence of a third active faction vying for the party (White nationalists, added to the existing Business/Libertarian and Evangelical crowds). Splintering of GOP media, lending relative strength to the Breitbart wing. Years of fact-free discourse, apocalypticism and litmus tests, which rendered the voter base bereft of discrimination and practicality, and left the other candidates with few effective attack vectors on Trump.
I don’t know how you engineer the nomination process to overcome that kind of perfect storm. I think it defies a systems fix, and relies on major actors to adhere to certain norms (truth-telling, fact-based discourse, etc.) that have been neglected for too long.
October 21, 2016 at 8:18 am #477
I’m stealing this post from another forum, because I think this person makes an excellent point.
I think the Roman cursus honorum is the best way to do these things – Someone should serve four years in professional public service (military, public defender/prosecutor, social worker, public health, something of that sort), go to graduate school for a masters in public administration (covered by some sort of GI bill), and then hold elected office at the local, state, and federal level for a full term at each level, before they are eligible to run for President.
If they want to spend a few years in the private sector in between, or before they go down this path, that’s their own business – there should be no maximum age for the office. This way, they’d be between 45 and 65 when they get to the Presidential election.
That ensures that a) they’ve got a diversity of experiences and know how real people live, b) they’ve been vetted for basic temperament, and c) they actually know what the job entails. It would do a good job of weeding out the Trumps of this world.”
The Constitutional requirements for President are minimal- be at least 35 years old, be a native-born (as opposed to naturalized) citizen, and 14 years current residency in the country IIRC. I like the idea of requiring some prior public service, although I can’t see that getting into the Constitution. The political parties could obviously amend their own rules that way. But it would only be a solution for one of the two most objectionable things about Trump- the fact that he is so grossly unqualified for the job. I thought that one of the best points Clinton made in the 3rd debate was contrasting her doing public service while Trump was getting busted for housing discrimination and stiffing contractors. But it doesn’t fix the other issue, which is Trump playing to the most foul elements of the American character- racism, xenophobia, etc. There’s no easy fix for that one, so people have to stay vigilant and be prepared to fight it.
October 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm #513
I’d like to focus on voter suppression as political hijacking. There are many ways to discourage if not outright prevent people from exercising their right to vote. All of us are aware of Republican-led efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. This has included a wide range of efforts: repeal of Section 4 of the VRA that required federal oversight of voting in states with a history of racial discrimination; restricted voting hours; reduced voting sites; requirement of difficult to obtain voter ID; limited early voting days and hours; elimination of straight ballot voting option; elimination of Sunday voting; elimination of same day registration/voting; elimination of ability for out of state students to vote on campus; gerrymandered districts so that candidates don’t reflect minorities within the district; voter intimidation at the polls; threatening rhetoric targeting heavy minority voting precincts – and more.
Since Justice Scalia’s death, there has been an awakening of the courts to address the wrongful efforts by the Republican Party to selectively suppress the vote across the nation. I would suggest that one cannot focus just on reform of the institutional apparatus of our political system, but all areas that relate to the ability of all people to participate in a free and open manner in that process.
Those of us who reside in TX, a deeply red state, know that voter suppression is de rigeur for TX politics, even though there has not been a Democrat in a statewide elected office in decades. For the TX political machine, that’s not enough. The Democratic Party must be totally, thoroughly squashed. It seems the courts are taking notice.
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