Of the People

In response to the disassembled nature of society and war in 1770 to 1815, the founding fathers achieved a new form of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” To be assured that “of the people, by the people and for the people” prevailed, the fathers created three branches of Federal Government: Executive, Legislative (with two houses), and a Supreme Court. Further, the fathers kept the power to make money, fight wars, impose taxes and officiate over foreign treaties. Everything else more or less was left to the parochial wisdom of the states. To elect candidates for the Presidency, a democracy is required to allow citizens to vote for their preferred candidate. However, states were left to devise their own methods for deciding who their favored candidates may be. This created a party system and, while each state was free to have its own selection methods, a national party was responsible to have a runoff vote at a party national convention.

Along the way, the National Government added citizen rights, adjusted roles of the branches of government, and begrudgingly accommodated civil rights to citizens of color. But for sure, it has never overseen how a state elects favorite sons. An unintended effect, perhaps not, is that state election procedures for President serve as a front line defense for the “establishment” as it is identified in the current campaign. It is virtually impossible for populist campaigns to acquire a party majority. The 2016 election campaign is truly unique in that is has three populist campaigns who lead two establishment campaigns in citizen voting: The democrats have Bernie Sanders (a democratic socialist); the republicans have Ted Cruz (religious authority) and Donald Trump, (a populist). Each of these populist campaigns draw unusually large audiences to their events, yet while all three are popular in their following, they have a difficult time converting popularity to political clout.

In his colorful but often blunt way, Donald expressed his frustration clearly. “Look at Bernie Sanders,” he said, “Every morning you hear the headline: Bernie wins but Bernie loses; Bernie wins but Bernie loses, Bernie wins but Bernie loses… the primary/caucus system is crooked!” Actually, as a representation of state citizenry, it isn’t so much crooked as unconnected to popular vote. Citizens in the states have their preferred candidate but if that candidate isn’t qualified by arbitrary rules, any votes for that preferred candidate are thrown out. To further burden the process, if the citizens still want to participate, they must select another candidate thereby inflating the second candidate’s numbers – without underlying actual preference by the citizens who initially preferred another candidate.

There are many arguments for these questionably unfair and highly politicized delegates. Two million citizens cannot go to a convention; by using delegates to reduce attendees, ferret out dozens of minor candidates, and to have rules that free delegates after one vote, it is possible to identify one person who will win the party’s nomination. So doing, a Presidential nominee quite likely can be elected within a reasonable time.

However, the independent freedom of a state allows it to nominate a favorite son in any way imaginable: Indiana Governor Mike Pence appointed all 57 delegates, prominent republicans, well before the primary vote – the prominent question is why hold an election? Mississippi and Alabama close select voting centers to minimize black and college voter turnout; many southern states have made voter identification difficult and confusing; several states have secondary requirements like winning targeted Congressional Districts before delegates can be assigned to a candidate. But what makes delegates irrelevant to citizen opinion is that delegates in no way represent the popular state election. When one listens to old pols, they find nothing wrong with ignoring the popular vote; primaries don’t vote for candidates, they vote for delegates. The two are not associated with election percentages.

The overall effect of this folderol – an original fear that colonies would hesitate to join the Union, has turned into a political tool to prevent change to the “establishment.” The fact that three strong populist campaigns are demonstrating for change indicates to the mariner that something needs to be changed in American Governments. On April 18, however, Bernie will lose to Hillary (an establishment avatar) and in the final stand down, we have a Choice between Hillary, Ted, a tea party conservative or Donald – a man of the people – wise or not.

Mariner believes that populist movements don’t occur until genuine, longstanding abuse is imposed by the governments and by abusive backers supporting those governments. It looks like 2016 populist movements will have little effect on the manner of governance. Maybe next time. Donald’s implication of violence may have more influence in 2020 – which is our first chance to depoliticize redistricting. Where is Joan when you need her?

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply