The system for nominating a president of the United States
by a major political party is broken. Considering the
experience now being endured by both the Democratic and
Republican Parties in the 2016 election cycle, the breakdown
might well be irremediable without drastic changes.
I offer as evidence the fact that four of the five surviving active
candidates have such extraordinary high negative standing with
the general electorate as measured by virtually all public
The Democratic race, barring some non-electoral intervention
(i.e. legal proceeding), is probably concluded, and the long-time
frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, will likely be officially nominated
at the Democrats’ convention in Philadelphia in July. In addition
to being a weak political campaigner and public speaker, Mrs.
Clinton has accumulated a myriad of controversies over her
private and public conduct over past decades. Her sole remaining
opponent, Bernie Sanders, is an elderly socialist who, despite
years of holding various elective office, has demonstrated little
understanding of the presidency. During the campaign now
concluding, each of them has alienated significant segments of
the Democratic party base.
The Republican race is not yet concluded, although its leading
candidate, Donald Trump, could gain enough committed
delegates to assure nomination before the July convention in
Cleveland. Like Mr. Sanders, Mr. Trump was not even a member
of his party until recently. Large numbers of traditional GOP
voters say they will not vote for him in November. He has two
The one who has the most committed delegates, Ted Cruz, has
appealed to only one segment of his party’s base. Like Mr. Trump,
he invokes very high negatives among voters in his own party.
The remaining candidate, John Kasich, does have both an
impressive resume and enjoys so far a positive image among
his party’s voters, but he has conducted a poorly organized
campaign which has so far failed to inspire Republican voters.
He has so few committed delegates (and won only one primary,
his own state) that his only chance to win is if there is an early
ballot stalemate in Cleveland.
The presidential campaign, and its televised debates and on the
stump, have, in both parties, deteriorated into exchanged insults,
put-downs and innuendo.
While each candidate has their strong supporters, there is very
little evidence that the winners in Cleveland and Philadelphia
will have an easy time to bring their parties’ electorate
together in November, much less appealing to independent
As I have pointed out numerous times in this space in recent
months, the two major political parties have created their
nomination processes in such a way that healthy and positive
grass roots voter participation is discouraged, blocked and
not transparent. The system also often turns away highly
qualified and immensely talented potential presidential
Does anyone seriously suggest that the current remaining
candidates for president in both parties are the best this
nation can consider?
It’s too late to fix any of this in 2016. We will now have to live
with the consequences of a broken system. But it is not too
early for thoughtful liberals, centrists and conservatives to begin
devising a much better system for 2020 and beyond.
If this is not done, it’s going to get worse, not better.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.