Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Our Corrupt Political System

It's not often that I touch on non-science topics in this blog. But I have some thoughts about what's been happening this political season, and I thought I'd share them here. I'm not a political scientist, and I admittedly don't know as much about our government as I should. What I do know, however, is that the system seems more "rigged" than ever before. With caucuses, superdelegates, lobbyists, and the possibility of a contested Republican Convention, this election season has opened my eyes to just how undemocratic the United States voting system is.

Crazy Republicans!

I always knew our voting system wasn't perfect, but it really hit me when Lyin' Ted and 1 for 38 Kasich announced they were "teaming up" and splitting their time and resources to prevent Donald Trump from clinching the nomination. I always despised Lyin' Ted, but I found Kasich somewhat reasonable, so much so that I called him "Good Guy Kasich." But when they announced that they were doing this, I lost even more respect for Lyin' Ted (which I didn't think was possible) and I no longer hold Kasich in as high esteem. I despise Donald Trump, but I actually felt sorry for him, and angry that these politicians were trying to get to a contested convention, where the Republican nominee would be decided by several thousand delegates instead of several million citizens. It's one thing to feel sorry for Bernie with the superdelegate disaster, but when you feel sorry for Donald Trump, you know that something is wrong with either you or the political system. At this point, I'm hoping it's the latter.

One of my personal heroes, Albert Einstein, once said that "everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I apply this quote to many things in my life, and I think it applies to my political views as well. I would say I am a moderate democrat - more liberal than most, but not as liberal as many of my millennial compadres in uber-liberal Seattle. Like many people my age, I like Bernie Sanders because I think he puts his priorities in the right places. And I also think he's been treated terribly by the party elite.

As you can see, Clinton holds a substantial lead over Bernie in total delegates. While she leads him substantially in pledged delegates, she really gets a boost from the superdelegates, who are free to back any democratic candidate they so choose. In Washington, Sanders got nearly 3/4ths of the state's vote, but 10 of 17 superdelegates have pledged to support Clinton, including Jay Inslee, our governor. Bernie won 25 delegates in Washington, while Hillary won 9. If Hillary were to hypothetically get all the superdelegates (which wouldn't be that much of a stretch), she would have 26 delegates to Bernie's 25. Doesn't seem fair to me, and it doesn't seem fair to the Republican frontrunner as well.

If there is a saving grace for Bernie supporters, it's that he has done well in caucuses. I would have liked to go to Washington's democratic caucus, but my plans were already all filled up for the day. If you don't have the free time or resources to go to a caucus, your voice isn't heard. This results in different populations having higher caucus turnout rates, and since many of Bernie's supporters are young, white, middle-class millennials who have the time and resources to go to caucuses, he has done very well in caucus states. On the other hand, Trump, who is very popular with those who have little or no higher education, has not done as well in the caucuses as he has done in the primaries. Keeping in line with the aforementioned Albert Einstein quote, caucuses and superdelegates are unnecessarily complex and unfair, and I would get rid of them if I could.

However, I think that something even worse is happening in the Republican Party (with regard to party corruption... the nativism, ignorance, and fear-mongering by both Trump and Cruz is downright scary). And that is that the person with the most delegates - by a wide margin - could end up not being the nominee. If Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or even Jeb! were to get the nomination at a contested convention, that would be an indictment of our voting process as undemocratic. But it's a very real possibility.

When I first learned about the Citizen's United decision, it seemed like a reasonable decision to me. Why should there be limits on how much money a corporation can donate to a politician? Anybody should be able to support the candidate of their choice, and they should be free to donate as much money as they please. But as time went on, I realized the repercussions of having this type of corporate influence in politics. A 27 dollar donation from Joe Schmoe isn't going to influence a politician's policy decisions, but a million dollar check from Exxon Mobil absolutely will. And then there's the mainstream media, but that is another can of worms.

Hopefully you found this post insightful, even if I didn't articulate it very well. But it sure felt good to write! Showers and sunbreaks with highs in the low 60s for the remainder of this week before we once again surge into the upper 70s for next week.

Thanks for reading!

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