On the EDge: What’s up with this primary-caucus thing?

OPINION – I have friends abroad who are asking: “What’s up with this primary-caucus thing?”
It’s a valid question.

In case you haven’t noticed, this whole primary season has been a cluster of deception and connivance that leads us to the possibility of not one, but two brokered political conventions this summer.

There are caucuses where, despite clear-cut winners, delegates and the power-brokers called super-delegates — party shills who will do the bidding of the national committees — are selected by whim it seems.

The same goes for the primaries.

This political season is a witch’s brew of peculiarities that — thankfully — does not include an eye of Newt, who is, so far, out of the picture.

But it is also a signal that, well, the whole system is due for major overhaul.

As it is, winners can be losers, and losers can pocket delegates apportioned in the smoke-filled rooms, which still exist. Looking at the recent super-delegate tallies, one has to wonder what exactly is being smoked during those closed-door sessions.

The thing is, the rules are ever-changing, making transparency almost impossible and ensuring suspicion that secretive deals and maneuvers benefiting certain segments of the electorate are at the heart of who will run at the top of the ticket come November.

It’s why this late into the game, the 2016 nominees are anything but settled, no matter what the spin doctors say.

How important are delegates anyway?

In 1968, Vice President Hubert Humphrey avoided the primaries altogether, focusing instead on delegates from non-primary states. His rationale was that the Democratic Party’s two front runners, Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, had a groundswell of support in the primaries as anti-war candidates, while Humphrey supported the ongoing tragedy that was Vietnam.

Humphrey won the nomination but not without cost.

Kennedy was assassinated that June, enabling the cigar-chomping thugs who ran the party to brush past the much weaker McCarthy. As the old-line Humphrey machine chewed up and spat out McCarthy, angry youth rioted in the streets, turning Chicago into a bloodbath not only politically but literally.

To top it off, we ended up with Richard Nixon as president, launching one of America’s darkest hours.

The heat has been turned up on both burners this time, the one on the left by the Clinton Machine and the one on the right ignited by party leaders intent on saving the GOP from a small but radical wing that is pushing a Trump candidacy.

Now, although Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump came off the line at full speed, both campaigns have lost steam in recent weeks as the Democratic vote has veered ever stronger in the direction of Bernie Sanders and the cooler heads of the GOP have come together in an “anybody-but-Trump” blitz.

The surge appears to be strong enough to prevent Trump from sweeping into the convention with enough delegates in hand for the nomination. On the Democratic side, Sanders has found new life despite the depth and strength of the Clinton Machine.

Although I would be hesitant to lay any real money down on anything related to the 2016 election, the prospect of a brokered Republican convention seems the best bet. The Dems? Slightly longer odds.

Now, for political junkies, this is a possible daily double.

The drama of a brokered convention beckons our attention to the minutia of the assemblage, casting a greater spotlight on those who have lesser roles than delivering keynote addresses during prime time.

Who speaks and when they take the podium will be as important as the roll call voting. I only wish I had a key to one of those smoke-filled rooms where the deals will be made.

It will also be a novelty because of the infrequency of such conventions.

The last time it happened to the GOP was in 1948 when it took three ballots to nominate Thomas Dewey, who lost to President Harry Truman. The last time it happened to the Democrats was in 1952 when it took three ballots to nominate Adlai Stevenson, who lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Although delegates are supposedly bound to a certain candidate — at least for the first round of voting — there is a way around that.

In the days leading to the conventions, individual party rules committees could suggest changes to the party’s convention rules committee to unbind delegates and allow them to vote for anybody they wish on the first ballot. The recommendation would then go to the convention floor for a vote, and the delegates themselves could decide whether they wish to approve or reject the recommendation.

My guess is that the Republicans would probably reject such a proposal because it would benefit Ted Cruz, who also represents a small but radical faction of the Republican Party.

What is most likely is that unless Trump captures enough delegates to secure a first-round nomination, the party will choose not to make the rules change and slug it out for a couple of vote cycles until either Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan is brought out of the bullpen to finish the game.

The same could happen on the Democratic Party’s side where the only one who could reasonably come off the bench at this point is Vice President Joe Biden.

Whatever happens, I guarantee it will not be dull by any means, and the intrigue will not end with the elections.

We could see major changes in our system. This could be, for example, the last hurrah of the Republican Party as we know it. Dissolution of the GOP would, of course, lend itself to a third party, which would leave us with a three-party system structured along the lines of conservative, liberal, and moderate ideologies.

Of course, that would necessitate not only some different thinking but also the elimination of the outdated Electoral College, which doesn’t do anybody any favors.

It would be a huge effort all the way around, but it would make sense and would result in some much-needed reform to our outdated, corruption-riddled system, which is why it probably won’t happen.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • RealMcCoy April 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    So you say it’s a radical wing of the GOP that supports Trump, and a radical faction of the GOP that votes for Cruz?
    Is there anyone left, or do you just classify all republicans as radicals?
    I didn’t see you call out any democrats as radicals for supporting Sanders, and that has to be one of the most radical groups out there. The fact that so many young people blindly support Sanders shows that they know nothing about socialism, and that in itself is a sad testament to America’s education system.

    • .... April 12, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Well the American education system failed you as well considering the word .have. is above your comprehension of basic English. but I see you took the time to express your radical worthless point of view. HAVE a nice day. you should learn how to react to people in a respectable manner. you would find another world out here.

      • RealMcCoy April 13, 2016 at 10:12 am

        So says the tortoise felon that has yet to master the difference between YOUR and YOU’RE.
        Very funny though, you talking about respect.
        Why haven’t the Feds kicked in your front door and arrested you yet, you law breaking hardened criminal?

  • mesaman April 12, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    You scored a political touchdown with your comment, McCoy.

  • Common Sense April 13, 2016 at 7:05 am

    I used to be really into politics but it was super stressful!!! It is not possible to please everyone. Once I realized that my opinion and vote literally do not matter I stepped back and have been happier since. It is not fun being worried sick over the fate and future of our lost divided country. I fear for our uneducated narcissistic youth. Don’t worry, I still vote.

  • tcrider April 13, 2016 at 9:19 am

    As usual, Ed writes excellent well researched articles that are based on a independent thought process.
    many of the local morons have problems viewing the world outside of the very small box that they perceive
    the world from.
    If we for example compare the parallels’ of what the gop is representing (trump and cruz) vs. (cliven bundy mentality), I see similarities,
    and this is a second branch of the gop that is evolving from what our country represents and wants, I truly believe the established gop
    does not want anything to do with what trump and cruz represent and I do not know if they (the gop) is going to separate itself without
    doing major damage to its own party.
    The people that complain about what Ed writes are very narrow minded and are what I would call one issue idiots, meaning that if
    they vote, their vote is based on one issue and they are unable to think more than one move into the future, many of the one issue
    idiots are only able to think this way because of the book.

    • RealMcCoy April 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      So you’re an EOAK of ed. Interesting.
      Want to compare the parallel’s of what the dems are representing (sanders) vs socialism mentality? I see similarities.
      What about the second branch of the dems that represents hillary? She’s just nuts, but ‘what difference does it make now?’
      I truly believe the established dems ABSOLUTELY want everything to do with what sanders and hillary represent and I do not know if they (the dems) are ever going to separate themselves without
      doing major damage to our own country.
      The people that agree and bow before Ed and what he writes are very narrow minded and are what I would call ‘feelings’ idiots, meaning that if they vote, their vote is based on feelings and not facts, and they are unable to think more than one move into the future. Many of the feelings idiots are only able to think this way because they have been brainwashed into only doing what they are told is ‘acceptable’ in a progressively liberal society.
      They scream about tolerance and acceptance, but only if you tolerate and accept what they believe. If your view differs from theirs, then you are ‘racist’ or ‘close-minded’.
      They refer to their liberal bias media for their ‘facts’, and if you disagree, simply plug their ears and call you a ‘FOX news watcher’. Oddly enough, these same people never bother to ask why FOX news is the #1 rated news station in America.

      • ladybugavenger April 13, 2016 at 9:00 pm

        EOAK….? ( here’s the logo)

  • Curtis April 13, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    So after both parties scrap the current systems and replace them with something different will we get better candidates and better outcomes? Everyone please feel free to insert your own definition of “better.”

    • RealMcCoy April 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      He means like when obama promised to ‘fundamentally change America”….then he did.

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