The primaries and caucuses of the various states has been a mess. But it’s never really mattered until this year. In years past, a primary or caucus would be held and people would go and cast their vote thinking that they were voting for President. Since the last contested convention in the Republican Party was 40 years ago in 1976, it’s really not been thought much about.
However, politics hasn’t been thought much about either. For years, we’d go and we’d vote and whomever won, won. We’d choose again the next election. Something changed though. It is my contention that Ronald Reagan was the beginning of this change. Coming out of the Carter years we had double digit unemployment, double digit inflation and double digit interest rates. The country was a mess. The term malaise was used more frequently and even began to be measured.
Reagan came to the campaign with a defined meaning for Conservative. He made America patriotic again. While in the beginning people would sneer at his standing up and leading the singing for America the Beautiful, or pledging allegiance, to the people it was refreshing and believed. Then he made good on his prosperity pledge. He lowered the upper tax rate from 70% to 28%. He did not jump into war as was predicted. He taught the country “peace through strength”. In short, he did what he said he was going to do. Turn the people loose to make lives for themselves with as little hindrance from the government as he could possibly cajole out of the Democrats in Congress.
Reagan’s policies and deals with the Democrat Congress brought this country out of the deepest recession since the depression. It was swift, it was forceful, as if someone had reached their hand into a swimming pool and yanked a man out before he could drown. The economy grew and we were out of the recession in short order. Even his wife, Nancy, created a policy that saved lives. A young girl asked Mrs. Reagan what she should do when a group of her friends were pressuring her to join them in using drugs. Mrs. Reagan looked at her and said “Just say No!”. So simple, but very effective.
Reagan was rewarded with a second term and won it in a landslide winning 49 out of 50 states. His Vice President, George H. W. Bush, was also rewarded at the end of Reagan’s second term with his own election victory over Michael Dukakis.
This is where I believe that the people of this country began to pay more attention. As the country was sliding into another recession, the first since 1981 that Reagan dragged us out of, Bush, who said in his campaign, “read my lips, no new taxes” then raised taxes pushing the recession a bit deeper. It was small, but it was noticeable. This brought on Bill Clinton. The scandals. The lies. The problems. Due to Clinton’s first two years, the Republicans behind Newt Gingrich created the Contract with America invoking Reagans name and policies and they ended up taking control of the House in 1995. Due to that election we had a balanced budget a few years later. The people were more involved.
The attacks on September 11, 2001 brought the people closer to what their government was doing to protect us. Then in 2008, Barrack Hussein Obama was elected. Two days after Presidents day, barely a month after his election, he signed the stimulus bill, passed by the Congress by nearly all Democrats and only one Republican. This caused the creation of the Tea Party.
In 2010, the Republicans took control of the House, but not before Obama got his socialized health care plan through the Congress, after some shenanigans by Democrats, and without even one Republican vote. Then the Senate went Republican and despite a government shut down, the Republicans added to their majority in record numbers in the House and now had the Senate, although not a filibuster proof majority.
The Republicans did not do as they said in defunding planned parenthood and obamacare which brings us to this election. This brings us to this election. The people did not want another career politician. We’ve had it with career politicians. So the bright spots in this election were among the 17 Republican candidates. Donald Trump, a businessman, Ben Carson a retired surgeon. Carly Fiorina, a businesswoman but also with experience in government both here and abroad, and Ted Cruz, a politician who has bucked the establishment politicians from within the Senate.
The field was whittled down to two. There is a third who has no mathematical chance. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
So now we get to the primaries and caucuses. To be honest, I thought, as I think most Americans did, that you vote in your caucus or primary and you’re allotted delegates based on the number of votes you get in each state. Not so fast. Each state has their own rules and the way they operate.
In Michigan for example. To get any delegates you must first get at least 15% of the vote. If you don’t, you get zero delegates. If you get 14.99% of the vote, you come away with nothing. All that finish with 15% or more of the vote get the number of delegates based on your percentage of the vote in Michigan.
So the results in Michigan were Donald Trump 42.644% of the vote got him 25 delegates. Cruz got 29.048% or 17 delegates and Kasich 28.308% or 17 delegates.
Had anyone gotten 50% of the vote, they’d have gotten all of the delegates regardless of what the others received. These delegates are bound to their candidates through the first vote at the convention. If a candidate drops out or suspends his campaign, those delegates are free to go where they choose. Nobody can claim them, and their candidate cannot dictate to them where they must vote once they’ve dropped out.
Contrast Michigans primary with Colorado and Wyoming. They do not have an election in Colorado or Wyoming for President in those states. They have caucuses to select delegates. Those delegates are not tied to any Presidential Candidate. So when their caucus comes up for selecting a President, it’s not the people voting for the President. It’s the delegates. You may say that the people chose the delegates in their election, and you’d be right. But they chose without knowing how that delegate would vote for President.
Pennsylvania is different still. They have 71 delegates up for vote. Only 17 are committed to a particular candidate and they are only bound to that candidate for the first vote at the convention. 54 delegates are at large. They are not bound to anyone.
Can you believe that all of the states have different rules? When the people are left out of the voting for their own representation, is it any wonder that the people are upset at what’s happening in the political arena this year?
So what happens at the convention? If a candidate doesn’t reach 1,237 delegates from the primaries and caucuses, the convention holds a vote. If nobody gets the 1,237, they vote again. And again. And they keep voting until they get their number. However, the delegates are only committed (based on the states rules) for the first ballot. The second ballot and beyond they may choose as they wish.
What could entice them to choose a different candidate? Perhaps they didn’t want to choose the guy they were forced to choose but once it gets to the second ballot, it doesn’t matter any longer, they can now choose as they see fit.
Candidates can come in and give them all sorts of gifts. Hotel rooms, dinners, baseball tickets, money, etc. This is in effect buying the election.
Donald Trump is right. The system is corrupt. Maybe it should be more uniform similar to the electoral college for the general election. At least then the people get a say.
You’re welcome to comment.