The whole primary/caucus system is a mess. A complete, total, unnecessarily complex, bloomin’ mess! Every single state has different rules, and those can be overwritten and changed at the whim of party leaders at any time, so it would seem. It is no wonder that people were upset after the Colorado GOP primary when they found that their votes were only a token that did not count toward binding delegates to one candidate of another. That decision was actually made last August by the GOP leaders who decided they did not want the delegates to be bound. Their reasons are beyond me, but I am sure they must have had some reason.
The system really needs to be overhauled so that there is some consistency from state-to-state, and frankly there is absolutely no reason for any of the convoluted systems each state uses today other than to keep people confused and scratching their heads. To begin, there are two major classifications:
- Closed vs. Open Primaries. This one is simple … in a closed primary, only voters who are registered as either a democrat or a republican may vote in the primary, whereas in an open primary, even those of us who are registered but not to a specific party may vote in either the democratic or the republican primary, but not both. This one makes some sense, though I do think it would make more sense for all primaries to be open. In the case of a closed primary, it remains a mystery who the non-affiliated voters may be considering.
- Proportional vs. Winner-take-all. This one is simple too, though again … why not make the rules for every state the same. Proportional means that delegates are bound to a candidate based on the percentage of votes that candidate receives, whereas winner-take-all gives all delegates to the candidate that has the most votes. Proportional seems more fair to me, but then what do I know?
Every other rule is more complex and they vary so much from state to state that just understanding the rules in your own state is a challenge. Only the true political junkies understand them all, and I am not even sure they do.
Take the recent broo-ha-ha in Colorado. Back in August, GOP leaders in Colorado chose not to hold a traditional presidential preference poll, aka straw poll. For whatever reason, they decided they did not want the delegates bound to a specific candidate. Best guess is that it is part of the larger, national GOP attempt to keep Trump from winning the nomination. Now, this decision was known to the candidates, so it should not have come as a surprise, but … it may not have been understood by the voters, and to further confuse the issue, some counties did actually hold “unofficial” straw polls, “just to see where people stand.” At the end of the day, everybody was confused and angry. Well, at least the republicans. The democratic caucus presumably went according to plan. The system is convoluted. I still cannot explain how Cruz walked out of Colorado with all the delegates, but if any of you would like to try to figure it out, I will put a link to one good resource at the end of this post.
Skipping ahead to May 10th and the West Virginia primary. More confusion. Today’s headline in Politico reads “Trump likely to win West Virginia but lose delegates — An arcane ballot process, complex rules and even the alphabet threaten to hold Trump back.” I am not even going to try to explain this one … if you care, read the article … I promise you will get a laugh from it, at the same time your eyes are circling around in your head like pinwheels in the wind, and the stomach acid starts bubbling up. Remember this is West Virginia … maybe that is all we need to know.
My whole point here is not to try to explain the whole primary/caucus system rules, as that would take me until election day 2020, would be a book, not a blog post, and by then the rules would have changed anyway. Rather my point is to plead for a new, uniform system across the nation. Hold open primaries with proportional delegate assignment, then everybody’s vote counts and there is no dispute about fair or unfair, rigged or not, and everybody can be happy. Or at least feel that it was fair. Was Colorado fair? Probably not, but it was legal. Closed primaries need to become a thing of the past, as more and more of us choose not to affiliate with either party. Why? Two reasons, at least in my case: a) I want to keep all options open, and b) I do not want my phone ringing day and night, spam cluttering my email box (I already get enough), and I do not want people knocking on my door. All of those things happen if you register as either a democrat or a republican. That, in itself, should be made illegal … it borders on harassment. Winner-takes-all is also rather ridiculous. If candidate A gets 1001 votes, and candidate B gets 1000, candidate A walks away with all delegates for that state. It really is unfair. But then, so is the electoral college system, which also needs to be dumped or revamped. All the other “rules” are a maze that are not understood by the average voter and really serve little or no purpose.
I truly believe that the people who developed the maze of rules involved with each caucus or primary was drunk and on some serious drugs. No sane person who was capable of coherent thought could have possibly devised these rules, just as no sane person capable of coherent thought can understand them. The two parties need to do away with caucuses, let each state have a primary using uniform and simple rules, and not only will voters and candidates be happier, but we will save a bundle of money! I will save money on Advil needed for my headache from trying to figure it out and eyedrops from reading so much!