Raucous Caucus and Other Ruckuses

Melvyn Magree

The Party of One held its caucus in front of my fireplace.  Mysteriously, it issued the following results:  None of the above, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton.  The Party of One caucus called on all of its members to not vote for any Republican except Arne Carlson or Bill Frenzel.  Unfortunately, Bill Frenzel died two years ago, but Arne Carlson is alive and writing.  See governorcarlson.blogspot.com for what he thinks of Trump, Fox, and MSNBC.

Trump’s plurality is not the lock on the nomination that so many news stories imply.  Cruz and Rubio could unite as President/VP and have the majority of delegates.  Either of the two could run as President but Rubio running as President may have a benefit.  This choice defuses the issue of Cruz’s birthplace.  But if such a duo is finalized, Cruz will more than likely be the Presidential candidate because as of this writing he has more delegates than Rubio.  Do you think the same “birthers” that tried to make an issue of Obama’s birth will make an issue of Cruz’s birth?

There is a campaign by Credo Action to get CBS to stop giving so much coverage to Donald Trump.  An email from Credo Action quotes CBS CEO Les Moonves: Trump’s campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”  The email also quotes CBS’s diversity and tolerance policy: “CBS Corporation, and its divisions are committed to building an environment that values diversity throughout the corporation and in its business practices.”

Personally, I think watching televised debates or even TV news is a waste of time.

I last watched Presidential debates in 2004.  I got so sick of John Kerry repeating “in my plan” that I almost didn’t vote for him.  I only voted for him because he was better than the alternative.  Bush was an angel compared to the angry clowns trying to outdo each other in shouting matches.  And Bush as a former governor and a sitting president had far more creditability and experience than an erratic businessman who has made a career of putting people down.  Remember “You’re fired!”

Watching TV news is unproductive time.  I can read more news items in a half-hour in a newspaper than I can get in a half-hour TV news broadcast.  Plus, I can skip ads in the newspaper but it’s hard to skip the twelve minutes of ads in a TV newscast.

My Party of One caucus was a lot less crowded than my wife’s DFL caucus.  She spent a lot of time driving around looking for a parking place, then she had to stand in line to even enter the building, and then she couldn’t get into the room for her precinct.  The best she could do was write her choice for president on a little slip of paper.  She had wanted to submit a couple of resolutions.  This is democracy?

I keep wondering why so many states have partisan primaries or caucuses that are open to the public.  I think it was Robert La Follette of Wisconsin over a century ago who thought that primaries would make elections more democratic.  I think it has had two downsides.  People who don’t give time or a dime to a party get to decide its candidates.  Second, it makes for much longer campaigns.

Many point to Canada and Britain as examples of “six-week campaigns”, but both of these are parliamentary systems.  My deadline precludes doing further research on this, but I think two factors are work here.

First, elections are not held on a regular cycle.  Often, a prime minister may decide to call elections to try to get more support for his positions.  These irregular elections have to take place in a relatively short time.  If a government does sit for its whole term, people are just in the habit of holding elections in a short period of time.

Second, even though voting for a member of parliament may be a proxy for the prime minister, the members are possibly only willing to campaign for a short period of time.  Few are the times that we have two-year-long all-out campaigns for local and state governments.

I do wish our so-called “debates” were debates in the classical sense: rather than moderators posing questions to each of the “debaters”, one of the candidates would speak for a certain amount of time on whatever topic he or she chose.  The other candidate (or candidates) could either rebut the first candidate’s remarks or go on to another subject.  Assuming only two candidates, the first would have a shorter period of time to rebut the second.  This is more or less how the Lincoln-Douglas debates were held.  Unfortunately, few people today would be willing to stand the hour-plus time of a single debate, or even sit that long.

It is ironic that the party that thought the federal government should work to abolish slavery is now the party that promotes segregation.  “Because we think it a wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong.”  - Abraham Lincoln, Quincy, Illinois, 13 October 1858.

Whatever your choices are in November, be sure to vote.  Your vote always counts.  You only throw your vote away if you stay away.