The US Primaries: Parties, Democracy, and The People

So we've definitely got a very interesting Primary in the United States this year.

Normally, conventions are big vanity shows in which everyone stands under confetti, listens to some speeches, and eats little sandwiches with the crust taken off.

But... maybe not this year. The DNC race is pretty tight and while Clinton is likely to keep the lead, she might not achieve the 60% of bound delegates necessary to be immune to Superdelegates potentially swinging the nomination to Sanders. In the GOP field, there's a fairly good chance the primary will go to a brokered convention. March 15th will be a big determinant of the likelihood here.

We go over all the dirty details in our latest Reconsider podcast episode, "Delegate Math." Definitely worth a listen. 

This year seems to be one in which "the establishment" is at war with insurgent candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They're both pretty far behind on political endorsements, yet have a lot of staying power.

The gap between internal party support and public support is actually fairly unique this year. It's also led to some unhappiness: many Sanders and Trump supporters accuse establishment interests of deliberately trying to undermine the will of the people. 

Something to consider: have you found yourself calling for Party X to stop an insurgent candidate, while also grumbling at Party Y's efforts to do the same? 

Amid questions about party interference, something else to consider: should "the party" have some say in who it endorses for President? American parties besides the Republicans and Democrats simply don't have primary elections--they just have conventions to pick the nominee. In some European countries like Germany, there are no primaries--the party leaders pick who they want to back in the election. In most parliamentary systems like the UK, Spain, Canada, etc, elected MPs choose who their Prime Minister will be. Are these systems flawed, or do they have some merit? Is there some consistent principle that should govern how primaries should be decided?


Erik Fogg

We do politics, but we don't do the thinking for you.