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.

On the Widening Divide

History clearly shows that divisions and differences have dominated Washington politics for long than any of us have been alive, so what is going on in Washington is nothing new – but that does not mean it is right.

Political parties, whom themselves are dominated by special interest dollars, have a strong degree of control over the dutifully elected officials. The 2010 primary season for all 435 representatives and a third of the senators will soon be in full swing. Let’s say three candidates are vying for a parties nomination. Watch closely to see if a particular candidate is party-endorsed over the others. That fact says more than we think (and could be a post in itself).

I am sure you have seen TV ads from special interest groups hawking a particular position, but have you ever read a political party’s fund-raising letter? All are for the sake of raising dollars for gaining power, political parties and their special interest cast the opposition as villains while casting fear about America’s demise.

For self-serving purposes, politicians and special interest groups spew twisted half-truths and party rhetoric aimed at benefiting themselves, their party, and the special interests they represent to anyone interested in listening. It is sad that many voters fall prey because of their selective hearing and lack of information.

Listen to the continual beating drum as talk show hosts relentless attack the opposition as if they were satanic powers of evil. Unfortunately, these talking heads appeal to the uninformed that seemingly have an inability to think for themselves.

Although it is not limited to the current health insurance debate, lawmaker behavior serves as an example of adults disguised as middle school students threatening their peers as if club membership is at stake. Then again, others may describe current legislative behavior as a toddler screaming and kicking to get their way, which is probably a favorite lollipop.

Not all that long ago, the Republican and Democratic parties found common ground because overlap existed within the political spectra – yet today that common ground is either absent or minuscule. Today climate is about a party getting what it can when it is in control.

Not only do people who have sold their personal soul for personal gain dominate today’s political climate, these lost souls armed with self-imposed blinders and poor listening skills seem incapable and unwilling to find a solution outside of the political comfort zone.

As for we in the pragmatic center who want to do what is best for the country, we simply watch the continual battle of serving self-interests over America’s interests – Unquestionably, not an example of political grace.

Governance has turned into a sporting event with sides cheer their side and booing the other. No, maybe it is more like an event at the Roman Coliseum as sides watch the warriors against the lions as the hunt for the red meat, then leave with a smug sense of pride.

Instead of focusing on re-election, we need elected officials who are willing to make tough decisions to do what is right. Then again, if they did what was right they probably wouldn’t get re-elected. Maybe we (Americans) are simply getting what we deserve.

On a Game Show Analogy for the Times

The other day I was thinking about the beginning of a television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The initial once-a-week phenomenon hosted by Regis Philbin was a prime-time success. As ratings soared, the network expanded to two then three, and possibly more evenings. The show eventually peaked, got scaled back, and is now a regular component for daytime viewing; but no longer a craze.

The network’s rationale is obvious – cash in on those advertising revenues when you can – a get the money when you can approach. The eventually losers in the methodology are the viewers whose interest fades due to overexposure, thus ratings and revenue subsequently fall; but the networks had a successful cash cow.

Through the years I’ve seen this happen with other shows; in the same way I’ve watched political parties whose prominence ebbs and flows. Currently, the Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Capitol Hill and occupy the White House. The same was true for Republicans not all that long ago. And of course transition periods of divided power also occur.

In any time on single party dominance, their behavior is similar to the networks – you know, get it while you can. The Democrats know they must maximize their use of the time because it won’t last – and just like the last time the Republicans dominated the power – and the time before that with the Democrats.

So during our country’s time of need, a time when we could use a patriotic grace to do what is needed – what is right – let us remember that the party in power seeks to get it while it can – but, in this case, at the citizen’s expense – and the same would be true if the other party was in power because political parties practice their mantra – party first.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol 12

On Gas Prices
Why have gas prices risen since December while oil prices decline? It’s a matter of supply and demand. Consumers are comfortable and suppliers are not operating refineries at full capacity.

On the Dominos of Life
Life is full of many domino-effect events. Months ago while listening to a person I got one of those “I should” ideas. About a month ago from reading a blog entry rekindled that same “I should” idea. Last week I received an email from church about a need, which triggered the same “I should” idea. This past Saturday I acted on that idea by sharing a story at my church’s monthly men’s breakfast.

On Baseball Downfalls
Sports figures have  a great propensity to be in the news and spot a negative light on to themselves, their sport, and the community they represent. With that in mind, and with the baseball season gearing up, Real Clear Sports listed their Top 10 Tarnished Baseball Reputations.

On Partisan Politics
Regular readers know I continue to rail against the partisans on both sides of the aisle. In that spirit, I appreciate this column from the New York Times.

On Great Posts of the Week
Here are several challenging posts I loved this week.

On Other Blogs
Written by a cartoonist that you may know the BizarroBlog provides wonderful stories and commentary accompanying the illustration of the day. Definitely for those with an offbeat sense of humor … and clicking the links is part of the experience.

American Heartland Bar & Grill is one of my early stops in the day. After all, they were the first to recognize my efforts. There primary efforts are with politics and college sports, they also link readers to other worthwhile posts.