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Puzzled by the Primaries

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  • Puzzled by the Primaries

    I'm trying to get my head around the American Primary system - at the moment in the UK we are getting reports about the Republican Primaries where the candidates seem to be going at it with hammers and tongs.

    Now I'm not overtly concerned about the merits of any of the candidates (although some of them seem a bit scary), but the system seems to end up handing a whole lot of ammunition to the opposition. Whilst the candidates go through the primary system - all the dirt gets dug up on them and thrown about which seems to me like an extraordinary own goal when it comes to fighting the election proper, not to mention the amount of money spent. Or would the opposition did up this dirt anyway, so it makes no difference?

    In addition - are the primaries an impoertant part of American life, or are they regarded by the general public as a sideshow. There's no perspective over here - we get the reports, but I'm not sure if it is acase of the media making it a bigger story than it actually is.

    They're pioneering something like this in some UK constituencies and the argument seems to be that the public get to know the candidates better. Is this an advantage is the US as well?

    Thank you for any enlightenment on this.

  • #2
    As an extra - why can any one vote for a particular candidate, if they are not a supporter. If in the UK, you could vote for a conservative candidate even though you were member of another party?
    Papa was a Rolling Stone......

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    • #3
      The thing to remember about primaries is that it's mostly for the die hards in each party, so the candidates are trying to appeal to the extremes. The last couple of elections the primaries have been covered far more than usual, I think in 2008 this was something the Democrats did on purpose to try and influence what the issues in the election would be, but now I think the media is doing it because it sells advertising. Being featured in the media so much does increase the importance of the primaries, I think.

      IMO the current primaries are like a circus sideshow - the performers are all ridiculous. They seem to be foculsing on rhetorical wins and moral superiority instead of policy which is what might appeal to their extreme base. So it is all about the dirt, not policies they'd realistically be able to hold as President. Policies don't work to get their base motivated.

      I think it depends on the State laws whether you can vote in another party's primary or not. But there's nothing stopping you from changing your registration to go in to a primary then changinf it back.

      Comment


      • #4
        they're trying to appeal to the party fringe whilst not saying anything that frightens the base, or even independents .


        almost every state has different rules for the primaries and caucuses, some that are closed allow you to change registration at the polls, some don't, some don't even use a party system at all, having a completely open primary then just putting the top two candidates on the ballot. its explained a bit here http://www.fairvote.org/congressiona...ed-and-top-two


        the past few election cycles the primaries have become more interesting then any sports (to me at least) just watch the last south carolina debate if you have any doubts http://www.2012presidentialelectionn...blican-debate/ its entertaining stuff folks, and i can almost convince myself its important too

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        • #5
          The primary system has become one of the reasons government has reached such a stand still right now. As the base of the parties has become more polarized, and it's the base that mainly votes in the primaries, the candidates have to appeal to the more extreme sections of their party so that the wing nuts have a bigger voice in choosing their party's nominee.

          As to who can actually vote in a primary that depends on each state. Some states have a closed primary system which means one has to be registered as a member of that party to vote in their primary. Needless to say those registered independent get shut out. OTOH some states have open primary where people can just go and select which primary they wish to vote in. There are pros and cons to this system. It actually gives independents and members of the other party who might be dissatisfied with their party's presumptive candidate, such as Dems who don't like Obama, a voice in choosing a candidate they like to run in opposition. OTOH, it also allows the other party members who are satisfied with the candidate or just blind party loyal a chance to try and swing the election by voting in the opposition primary for whom they presume will be the weakest candidate in the general. This happened years ago in a couple states when Nixon had no primary opposition so his supporters voted for the weakest Dems they could think of to challenge him, hence a win for Geo Wallace, basically a fringe candidate in the north, in Mi.

          As for all the mud slinging you see going on now it won't hurt, especially to the majority of the GOP faithful for a couple reasons. Most will rally round whoever is nominated even if they believe the accusations made because even the devil is better than Obama to most except the evangelicals who think they are one and the same. Two, I hate to say it but a majority of voters have short memories and little practical intelligence and, as Alice once stated, can believe 6 impossible things before breakfast as seen in this year's primaries alone. All the candidates say that government doesn't create jobs yet claim that they have the best record for creating jobs when they held whatever office they did before. They claim that the banks should have been allowed to fail for doing what they did but most of them also fight the effort of the admin to regulate the financial institutions to keep what happened a couple years ago from happening again. Hell, it was the GOP and its policies of deregulation, a lot of it started under the watch of Gingrich as Speaker, that caused the economic meltdown of the late 2000's yet they were willing to return those self same deregulators to office 2 years later and Gingrich is now a front runner in the GOP primaries. Ron Paul is garnering a lot of support from youth because his libertatian outlook feeds in to the anti war sentiment and allowing gays to marry among other things yet they don't seem to see the flip side. That self same outlook also means allowing business to do what they want, no enviromental regulation, no rein on predatory practices, nothing. He would also allow discrimination free rein once again because it is not goverment's place to regulate what eople want to do as long as it isn't a fist to the nose. Simplistic maybe but basically the libertarian view. So for the most part dirt flung in the primaries has little effect in the general election, it becomes water under the bridge.
          herb

          Man spends his time on devising a more idiot proof computer. The universe spends its time devising bigger idiots. So far the universe is winning.

          http://www.wolfshead.net/wolfshowl


          http://www.wolfshead.net/books

          Comment


          • #6
            I can't remember which "founding father" it was but one of them was staunchly against establishing any form of party system. Oh how things could have been if we had listened to his wisdom.

            As Herb says the parties have become very polarized and the term "moderate" is viewed with suspicion. I think that's why so many people are disinterested in voting; you'd have to be somewhat insane to be completely satisfied with any one candidate. Herb also mentioned something I wanted to add about the primary system and voting... it is quite common for someone who is staunchly democrat/republican to lie about their party ties just to vote for the weakest link in the opposition's primary. This is true even in states that are more restrictive about primary voting.

            I started posting this while skimming through Herb's post and I really can't say it any better than he did. Bravo. The only additional thing I'd like to add is there seems to be a huge misunderstanding about what the term "Libertarian" means in the USA. Most people see it as an ultra-conservative alternative (or sub-genre) of being a Republican. So when I say I'm a "Libertarian Socialist" people laugh as if it's an oxymoron/joke.
            Last edited by ThanosShadowsage; 01-28-2012, 11:24 AM.

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            • #7
              I studied American politics for my Government and Political Studies A-level in the '80s and I had to say the US system of elections didn't make a jot of sense to me then either.

              However, I would recommend getting hold of the 1964 film, The Best Man, directed by Franklin J. Schaeffer and starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson as two politicians competing to win their party's presidential nomination.

              Plot synopsis (contains spoilers):


              Also, though it deals with Congressional elections rather than Presidential ones, checkout The Candidate (1972) starring Robert Redford, which is a cracking film.

              Plot synopsis (contains spoilers):
              Last edited by David Mosley; 01-28-2012, 11:34 AM.
              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

              Comment


              • #8
                I doubt you can get away from the formations of factions or parties. It seems a natural human trait to band together. Therefore this would apply to politics to gain power you have a majority and therefore appeal to the broadest group.
                Papa was a Rolling Stone......

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sandy, here are some websites and pages that might help answer your questions:

                  The US Dept. of State maintains a site called eLibraryUSA. You may want to take a look at these pages/links--

                  http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/e...#axzz1kmxQXMdk

                  http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/e...#axzz1kmxQXMdk

                  http://www.senate.gov/reference/reso...df/RL30527.pdf (chapter 2 of this may be exactly what you're looking for)

                  http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/e...#axzz1kmxQXMdk

                  There's also a simple overview on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yt63z...167B01D847BE03

                  & here's a blog with a nice print overview, too: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/Hx/NomProcess.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks to everyone for your replies. I feel more enlightened now. However, now I'm wondering why the UK media spends so much time (and money) reporting the primaries.

                    My guess is that many reporters are political junkies who mistake their own personal interest for everyone elses.

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                    • #11
                      What, you don't care about the Wife of Newt?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sandy View Post
                        now I'm wondering why the UK media spends so much time (and money) reporting the primaries.
                        Probably because they think it matters to the UK who the next POTUS might end up being.
                        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          i dunno, the media doesn't follow uk politics all that closely here in america, interesting knowing that in spite of lack of reciprocation the uk covers american politics.


                          it really is fascinating at the moment, with the republican establishment wanting mittens, vs the tea party wanting anyone but a big millionaire business man, vs the libertarian ron paul who is strong among youth and independents. you got newt freaking gingrinch out there, with a shot at being the nominee, who would ever have believed that could happen? the man is crazy and he has a lot of baggage, but don't a lot of great people have great flaws? i really don't like or trust mittens (thats a pet name for mitt romney) i like ron paul, but don't see him winning, i'd sort of like to see a newt/paul ticket, cause paul is too old to have another shot at this

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                          • #14
                            Are the Murdoch-owned media companies driving the heavy coverage of the US primaries?

                            Just a hunch, but maybe there are obscure ways (under US election law (such as it is)) to ladle money from UK/European entities into the argosies known as "super-PACs"--political action committees--that are currently paying for a phenomenal amount of cross-media political advertising time in the US, and the coverage is being blasted at you across the pond in the hope that extra cash will find its way over here.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In addition to what Wolfshead said about mudslinging: In the primaries it can sometimes work to a candidate's advantage. If they successfully defend against a smear campaign from a rival, it can effectively eliminate that theme as a potential weapon for their opponent to use in the general election. They become stronger through their trial by fire, so to speak. Of course, if they don't defend very well (but still win the primary), it can potentially be used against them even more effectively by that same opponent.

                              Although significantly different, the primaries can be seen as a "dry run" for the presidency.

                              Originally posted by ThanosShadowsage View Post
                              I can't remember which "founding father" it was but one of them was staunchly against establishing any form of party system.
                              In addition to that, I doubt any of the founding fathers wanted a "two-party" system. Sure, anybody can become president -- theoretically. Realistically? If you don't belong to one of two parties, your chances are slim and none... and Slim just left town. Oh, and it helps to be a millionaire, too.

                              When it comes to a two-party system, I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln's paraphrasing of Mark 3:25: "A house divided against itself cannot stand".

                              And Guzzlecrank, don't even get me started on super-PACs!
                              β€œThe intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” - Albert Einstein

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