On Primaries and Political Reality

Each time I hear a politician in an interview defending a candidate because the voters elected him through a legit primary system I want to gag – hence it is time to defend my point.

America has a 2-party system – Each with a very strong infrastructure and deep financial pockets designed for self-preservation. Then, especially at the state and national levels, an agreement between the two creates a new infrastructure for committees. Even if a third-party candidate won a place on Capitol Hill, how much power will they possess?

Each party has a national, state, county, and even local party organization – each with its own executive committee to make decisions such as endorsements. Let’s say person A, because of their desire to serve, decides to enter the race for a particular position – but the executive committee of the local party organization endorsed person B. Any implications?

  • Person B will appear on all sample ballots, but not person A.
  • Person B will appear on all local ads, but not person A.
  • Person B will be able to use “Party-Endorsed Candidate” on their web site and campaign materials, but not person A.
  • Person B will be able to use the party’s emblem on their web site and campaign materials, but not person A.
  • Person B will receive the local party’s work force aid, but not person A.

I think everyone would agree that the odds of winning the election are in person B’s favor, so let’s say they win the primary and eventually take office. Time will pass and the time comes to re-elect the position. Not only does the cycle start again, but person B is now the incumbent, which brings name recognition into play.

Therefore, here’s a twist. What is person B (the incumbent) rankles the local party’s executive committee? Could they loss their endorsement in favor or person C? You betcha!

The late Tip O’Neill’s famous All politics is local quote hits is right on target. Partisan politics starts at the local level. Marching to the party’s drummer starts at the local level. Serving the party’s best interest over the community’s best interest starts at the local level – thus continues at state and national levels as party bosses identify the best soldiers who are electable.

As far as Washington goes, ever wonder way a president has political advisors on staff? Ever wonder why Democrats and Republicans parties have committees to elect senators? Ever wonder the importance of “leadership” PACS headed by members of Congress?

  • Just something to remember as another round of primaries are about to start.
  • Just something to remember when hearing our members of Congress speak.
  • Just something to realize when wishing party moderate working together on common ground.
  • Just something to keep in mind when the president speaks – even when he says “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president; And I believe that.”

There is only minimal (at best) political grace in Washington – the genuine interest of doing what is best for the country. Regardless of who, their words and their actions demonstrate Party First – thus one reason why the public is fed up with Washington (poll) and why more people regard themselves as independents.

By the way, here’s a great article by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal.

4 thoughts on “On Primaries and Political Reality

  1. And while I believe that more and more people identify themselves as independents, how many actually vote as independents? How many people even know what specific candidates believe (as opposed to the “party lines”)? Furthermore, how many candidates actually vote based on what they believe (again, as opposed to the “party lines”)? It seems, to an outsider, that the answer to all of those questions is “not many.” And that, in a nutshell, is what I find wrong with the political system!


    • Chris,
      Excellent points that add more to the muck. I once told a partisan neighbor that he would vote for Bin Laden if the correct letter was after the name. His reaction — none, absolute silence.

      Thanks for sharing your insight!


    • Chris,

      The problem then, succinctly put is, “What will you do about it?” Dropping out and not voting or wasting a vote on a third party candidate who has NO chance of winning is really not a realistic approach to fixing this problem. The solution is actually very simple. Get involved and run for an office as either a Republican or a Democrat.

      Now you may have a different viewpoint, and I respect that, BUT, unfortunately, here in the USA this is how it works, and you must be inside to make changes.

      If this was the old Soviet Union, there was an option… as Stalin said, “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

      Be thankful you live in America and have a system you can have an effect on.


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