Why Don’t We Get to Choose Our Candidates?
March 2, 2015
Four years ago my wonderful wife gave me the best birthday present ever. She got me tickets to CPAC and to the GOP debates. I got to see all of the candidates in person and met some of the most wonderful Conservative people on the planet. And I got to participate in the CPAC Straw Poll.
What does the Straw Poll mean? Nothing. It’s obviously not binding, and it certainly has not been predictive. But in another sense the CPAC Straw poll (and other similar tests of voter sentiment) mean everything.
A few days ago Rand Paul won the CPAC Straw Poll – for the third time! Yet he has never been nominated by the GOP to be their standard bearer. Likewise, over the years many candidates have blown away the early primary states with huge margins, yet were not even allowed to speak at the convention. What is the problem?
Well, it’s complicated, and I certainly won’t be able to do justice to the complexity of our electoral process in this article. But let me take a stab at highlighting some of the key problems that result in people of both parties scratching their heads and asking, “How did this person come to represent my party?”
First, both parties have a dark secret. Rich and powerful people decide who will run for president. They let us think we choose our candidates. They allow caucuses and straw polls and conventions. There is great fanfare and pageantry at both conventions, and cheers as the representatives of the various states announce which candidate will receive their electoral votes. “They” encourage these rituals because they want the average person to believe they have a voice.
Take Obama’s coronation as the nominee in 2008. Hillary never had a prayer, much less the many other Democrats who threw their hats in the ring. George Soros and others power players had already decided Obama would be the nominee in 2004. Why do you think a complete unknown with zero experience was given the preeminent place at the 2004 Democrat convention? Why was he allowed to give the riveting speech (written by some of the most expensive speech-writers in the world) that brought him to national attention four years before they ran him for president?
I’m sure a lot of Democrats who weren’t insiders were wondering, “Who is this Barrack Hussein Obama? Is he a relative of Saddam Hussein? Are we trying to show how inclusive we are by pushing him to the front of the line? He certainly hasn’t paid his dues. Why is he giving the most important speech – the Keynote speech – of our convention?” And, by the way, who printed up the thousands of OBAMA signs that people who had never heard of him were waving when he was introduced?
Remember, Hillary had a lot of money and a lot of political juice behind her. Former First Lady, Senator of the very liberal State of New York. And, oh yes, she was the wife of one of the most powerful and slick politicians who ever lived, Bill Clinton. No matter what he did, including sleeping with half the women in Arkansas and Washington, all he had to do was say, “Aw, shucks,” and Democrats fell all over each other trying to get close enough to touch him.
So how did a party that wanted desperately to be able to say that they had elected the first woman to the White House nominate a no-name, no-experience, dishonest guy whose only attribute was that he could read well off a teleprompter, rather than a political powerhouse like Hillary Clinton?
There was a meeting. I can’t tell you when and where it happened. I can’t even tell you for a fact that it did happen. But I believe that it did it happen just as much as I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow.
After allowing the show to go on for a while, with pundits discussing whether Obama or Hillary would be the nominee, “they” sent their representatives to meet with Hillary. “They” told her that one of two things would happen:
1) She would continue to run against “their” choice, in which case they would crush her and humiliate her publicly. They would reveal dirt (both real and contrived) that would make Democrats curse her name whenever they gathered, and she would never be elected to any public office again – even as Mayor of Little Rock.
2) She would withdraw from the race and “they” would tell Obama he had to give her any Cabinet post she desired. "They" suggested Secretary of State so that she could get some foreign relations experience, after which “they” would support her run for the White House after Obama served his two terms.
So what happened? She withdrew from the race. She gave Obama a very tepid endorsement, in which she mostly talked about herself. She made a few token campaign appearances for Obama, but neither she nor Bill gave him any real support. But – Surprise! – Obama obeyed those who pulled his strings, and made her Secretary of State. He never made it a secret in his close circle that he hated her bitterly. Yet he gave her the most important position in his administration. Never mind the fact that she was woefully unqualified for the job; “they” said to do it, and Obama obeyed.
Will Hillary be the Democrat nominee? It’s up to “them.” Yes, they promised to support her, but if they see someone who they consider more electable, they’ll throw her away like an old girlfriend. What could she do about it? “But you promised me!”
That’s the Democrats. Are the Republicans any better? I submit to you that the GOP version of “them” - the strong, the rich and the powerful – will likewise choose the Republican nominee for the upcoming race. How can they do that? Again, it’s complicated, but it mostly comes down to money.
They can give money directly to the candidate they like, but the amount they can give is limited. They can “encourage” their employees to give the maximum contribution and then reimburse them with bonuses, extra vacation time and so on. They can set up supposedly neutral PAC’s (Political Action Committees) that are allowed to support the party, but not any individual candidate. But you don’t have to be very politically savvy to watch those ads and see which candidate they want to win.
One of the most effective ways to guarantee that “their” guy (or gal) will get the nod is by influencing the delegates who vote at the conventions. This can be by promising money or political favors to the representatives themselves – or to the people who choose the delegates. In most cases the people chosen to represent their states will be “Establishment” type operators who toe the party line. But in some cases a little arm-twisting, blackmail, bribes or promises of support in the next election have gone a long way in making sure a representative votes the “right” way.
A sticking point with Democrat national conventions is that of “Super Delegates.” Regular delegates have always been awarded by percentage in Democratic nominating contests. (By contrast most Republican contests are winner-take-all.) So if one Democratic candidate wins 60 percent of the popular vote in a state that has 10 delegates, for example, that candidate will win six delegates in that state.
In 1982 the Democrats switched to the “Super Delegate” system. Super Delegates are Democratic members of Congress, high-ranking members of the Democratic Party, state governors and former presidents and vice presidents. You don’t get much more “Establishment” than that. These Super Delegates can easily decide a Democratic convention’s nominee, since there are about 800 of them - roughly 20% of all the delegates at the convention.
Another way powerful people decide elections is by influencing the electors. Most Americans believe that they vote for the president and vice-president when they enter the voting booth. After all, their names are on the ballot, aren’t they? Actually, they are voting for their state electors, who are supposed to vote for the president and vice-president that the majority of the voters chose. They do this in the Electoral College.
North Carolina statutes require that this notice be on their ballots: “A vote for the candidates for President and Vice-President named on the ballot is a vote for the electors.” This is true in all states, even if it is not stated on the ballot itself. In some states the names of the electors are listed below the names of the candidates. In most they are not.
Please do not take this as a condemnation of the Electoral College. It has served this country well for hundreds of years. It is an effective device that prevents mob rule. I’m just explaining how it works. (By the way, the fact that Hillary called for the abolishment of the Electoral College established by our Founders should be enough reason to keep it the way it is.)
The problem is that, just as Obama’s Acorn people gave homeless people beer and drug money and told them to vote for Obama, it is possible in certain instances to influence electors.
There are no requirements for electors, and few disqualifying items. (They cannot be members of Congress, for instance, and cannot have engaged in an insurrection.) Mostly they are political activists or highly placed people in their political parties. So the scale is automatically tipped toward the Establishment – the mysterious “they” who decide which two people we get to choose between in the General Election.
I should stop here and emphasize that these unethical – and in some cases illegal – attempts to designate a party’s nominee are used by both parties. I believe they were probably invented by Democrats (just my opinion), but the GOP was quick to imitate them.
So, if the voters of a state tell the electors who they must vote for, even if the party bosses actually pick the electors, they still have to vote as the citizens direct, don’t they? In theory, the answer is yes. But unfortunately that is not always the case. Again, it is complicated.
(I’ve mentioned several times in this article that some things are complicated. That is your notification that I don’t have the time to explain everything. And it is also your call to do some research on your own. It’s your country – and it’s your responsibility to understand how it runs.)
In all states but Maine and Nebraska a “winner takes all” system is used. This means that if the majority of the people of a state vote for one party, all the electors are required are to vote that way, regardless of their personal beliefs. Maine and Nebraska have a more complicated system, but there is no need to go into it since their system has never resulted in a situation where some electors vote for one party and some for another.
Remember that I have said that the electors are “required” by their states to vote as the people have directed. However, there is no one holding a gun to their heads. There have been 158 “faithless electors” who for one reason or another have violated their duty to vote as the people directed. And even though more than two dozen states have laws making it a crime to be a “faithless elector,” no one had ever been prosecuted.
But we should never forget that in a close election “faithless electors” who have been promised money, jobs or political appointments could conceivably decide an election.
Now that we have discussed election mechanics, let’s get back to the straw polls and caucuses. Even when it is clear that the majority of the party backs a certain candidate, “they” will usually back someone else. It’s not always because they are evil people (although that is certainly often the case; George Soros is a good case in point). Sometimes they are making what they feel are strategic, pragmatic decisions.
Here it’s not so much about money but about “electability.” The power players can realize that a candidate is hands-down the best, the one that most closely backs the values of their party – and still throw him or her under the bus. For instance Karl Rove professes to be a staunch Republican who wants the best for his party. But I have watched him mercilessly attack great people who would be wonderful candidates – because he didn’t believe they were electable.
To understand our political process we have to understand the difference between the primary elections and the general elections. You may have heard people talk about this on TV and not paid attention. Listen now, because it is important.
In the primary elections we try to choose our party’s new head. The people who feel the strongest about this important responsibility are the ones who vote in the primaries. They turn out to vote because they are the ones who best represent the core beliefs of the party. Thus what I call the “Republican Wing of the Republican Party” – the most Conservative Republicans – have the most influence on the primaries. In the same way, the Socialist Wing of the Democrat Party influences their primaries.
That’s why Rand Paul has won the CPAC Straw Poll three times in a row. He’s the first one who has ever accomplished that. But it was Conservatives who showed up for CPAC. They love him because he believes in a return to limited, Constitutional government. But the Wise Ones, the Establishment Republicans, hate him bitterly. So they will make it very difficult for him.
You see, the Establishment of both parties are people without principles. They don’t care if, for instance, a GOP candidate strongly believes and will stand for things that most Republicans believe in – family values, lower debt, a strong military, defense of unborn children, lower taxes, and so on. They care only if they believe he is electable. They don’t have enough faith in their own party to believe that if Republicans were presented with a strong moral candidate who actually believed in America and the Constitution, they would turn out in force and elect him.
Instead, “they” believe they have to play to the middle – the Independents, they and the “moderate” Democrats and Republicans who don’t really know what they believe. The Establishment power people in both parties think they have to present a generic candidate that will appeal to these “swing voters” – someone who embraces everyone and everything, and offends no one.
I vehemently disagree. I believe Republicans in particular are HUNGRY for a candidate who knows what he believes and is willing to stand on the Constitution and his values regardless of whether he wins. If he’s not willing to take that risk, he doesn’t deserve the office.
I have not written this article to cause you to lose faith in our political system – it’s still the best in the world. But I do want you to have your eyes open and spend a lot of time in prayer that political shenanigans will not decide our elections. Pray that God’s men and women, moral patriots, will be elected. And that our Founders’ dream of a righteous, strong and generous nation will be its testimony in this wicked world.
He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).
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