By Brian McKay
The nomination processes to be the presidential candidate of both the Republican and Democratic parties have generated considerable controversy this year. Normally, a clear front runner emerges early and it’s over. Not in 2016. Hard fought battles that have been coming down to the some of the latest periods in Presidential nomination history to define a clear presumptive nominee have called attention to a glaring issue of the party nomination processes, the Superdelegate.
What the hell is a Superdelegate?
Technically, both parties have them although in the Democratic Party they are much more powerful. In the Democratic Party, a Superdelegate is anyone who is part of the Democratic apparatus, including governors, Congressional members, past presidents, past vice presidents and state party chairs. They can vote for any candidate they wish, regardless of the state’s nomination process and comprise about 15 percent of the delegates.
On the GOP side, only the 3 members of the state’s national party get to be Superdelegates. Thus they only account for about 7 percent of the entire delegate count. Republican superdelegates must, however, vote for whoever their state voted for.
In essence, it is the Democratic nomination process that is far from democratic, regardless of the name of the party. On the Republican side though, we have seen considerable influence peddled by the Establishment and on the ground organization of different campaigns, with the obvious attempts to subvert the Trump campaign. zenruption has frequently commented on the fact that Trump has been right when he has said he is getting screwed.
None of these rules were decided by you, but by the parties themselves. It is safe to say, they are just maintaining a power structure that reduces the power of their voter base and rewards all the right people.
Is any of this Democratic. Not a fucking chance.
So after the nominee is decided we get to the general election where this thing called the Electoral College comes into play. How well does it work? Just ask Al Gore. In 2000, he won by over 500,000 popular votes but lost in the Electoral College and did not ascend to the position of President. Just one more time for posterity, he won the actual votes but did not become president.
So how does one become a member of the elite class called the Electoral College? Well, it helps very much to be elite to begin with. Electors can be party officials, those who have a relationship with the candidate, members of the parties, etc. Honestly, we all know it comes down to money and influence. For fucks sake, this is the United States, does it ever come down to anything less than power and influence? If someone is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in these things called “elections”, it has to come down to power and influence.
If a candidate wins the state, he or she “typically” gets all of the Electors. Electors are not required to vote for the winner of the state by Federal Law but some states impose restrictions on them. In other states, the Electors are required to make pledges to the political parties to vote for the parties’ nominees. Throughout the nation’s history, 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged, yet no elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.
A candidate can win a plurality of votes but lose in the electoral college. How? Some states have much lower ratios of electoral votes to popular votes. For instance, California has 55 electoral votes but Wyoming only has three. California has almost 250,000 voters per electoral vote while Wyoming only has about 88,000 per electoral vote. It is easy to see that Wyoming’s three electoral votes count for far more than California’s in terms of weighting. Some analysts have even shown how a candidate could technically win the Electoral College with only 30% (or less) of the popular vote.
It makes perfect sense as a candidate for the Presidency to actually pander more to certain states that have more weight for their Electors against actual voters. Screw that state and favor this one. Don’t bother campaigning that much over here but tailor your message better to fit over there. You get the idea.
Do you feel like your vote counts right now? Probably not, unless you live in Wyoming. Obviously you Californians aren’t worth as much, but Fox News preaches that every night anyway. Old white people don’t like you Californians. But hey, their old. Get over it.
No, don’t get it over it actually. That is truly messed up. It is not democratic in any sense of the word.
When we add in SuperPacs pouring hundreds of millions into ad time on your local TV station, which makes it pure hell to watch TV in October of an election year, it is even less democratic. Lobbyists, campaign contributions, patronage, free flights on private jets to golf outings disguised as fact finding missions and pandering for endorsements, make the system so damn non-democratic that it isn’t funny.
At least when this country’s founders limited voting to land holders, we knew it was anything but truly democratic. Despite the addition of votes from women, minorities, those that don’t own and land and those that can’t pass a reading test, we still aren’t the greatest democracy. It can be said that many European parliamentary systems are actually much closer than we are with their focus on strict campaign finance regulation and a lack of things like an electoral college.
Hopefully this year’s debacle, that has been the nomination processes, have raised awareness to exactly how undemocratic the process really is. When we vote in November, certain votes will still carry much more weight than others though.
I am not sure about your definition, but mine says that one vote equals one fucking vote. The U.S. is still very much a work in process. Obviously, we still aspire to actually become a true democracy. The logical conclusion seems to be that if one vote doesn’t always equal one vote, we still aren’t truly free.
I never previously thought that the people that live in the freezing boondocks of Wyoming might have more power than me. The people need to demand the abolition of the Electoral College, that parties revise their nomination processes and the end of billionaires influencing election outcomes. Then, and only then, will the U.S. be on its way to democracy.
…and I won’t have to say that I am just fucking with you anymore.
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption. He has a couple degrees that qualify him to flip fries. Obviously he likes saying "fuck" a lot, but we at zenruption think it is probably just an act. Well ok. Not always.