Sean Edwards

The American Resurrection

No, The Primary Systems Aren’t Rigged. Here’s Why…

Vote Republican Elephant and Democrat Donkey Buttons Illustration

There is a lot of noise out there right now about the presidential primaries. With Trump winning the GOP vote, party members are thinking about exerting their right override the primary results.

Something similar is happening in the Democratic Party as well.

Here’s the problem, people are getting very angry because they feel the political elite may overturn the democratic process. It sounds very undemocratic. The people vote one way, but “party insiders” decide something else.

Primaries Are Not Part of The Election

But that isn’t what’s going on. We have to remember that we are “voting” for a party nomination, not in a election. But it is the political party that chooses who they want to in the election.

Think of this way, if you and I wanted to start a third party, we could. We could organize a party around a set ideals, find people who think the same way, and develop the financial support and infrastructure needed to help get our candidate elected.

Then, we may decide to “poll” citizens affiliated with our party to see who they’d like to see elected. But it is our party. We really only poll them to get a feel for what the people want.

Then we take that information back and decide who we want to run.

That’s what a primary is. It just happens that two parties dominate our politics.

So, when we “vote” in a primary, we aren’t really voting. We are letting the party know who we’d like see as the nominee.

Individuals Have Rights Inside Political Parties

How would we feel if our imaginary 3rd party was forced to pick a candidate that the public polled for?

We’d say, “Hey, this OUR party. These are OUR values. And even though a lot people said they wanted a slave overlord to be president, we don’t want to select one as our nominee. If you don’t like our candidate, then don’t vote for them in November.”

[Note: I’m not calling any of the candidates slave overlords. It was just illustrative example.]

That is a gross oversimplification of the process, but those are the basics. The GOP and Democratic Party have different systems in place for determining their nominee–but is their nominee.

Why would we want this kind of a system? Why not just have open voting for the candidate? That is a great question that dives at the very heart of what government should be.

For now, though, I think it is important to realize that the system isn’t rigged.

We aren’t being controlled by a secretly powerful aristocracy.

Primaries aren’t part of the election. They are part of party’s system to help them determine what the public wants, and who may be more “electable.”

But ultimately, it is their party. They can decide who they want to be their nominee.

Everything is okay, our democracy is intact.

About Sean Edwards

Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.

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  • I would agree with you in the context of a multi-party system. But we don’t have a multi-party system. We have a two-party system, which was never what the founding fathers intended, is not at all beneficial to the country, and invalidates everything you are saying here.

    • Sean Edwards

      Hello Jacob,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      I agree that the founding fathers never wanted a 2 party system. And I agree that a 2 party system isn’t great. It would be better to have more party options.

      I do have one question, though… How does that impact the LOGIC of what I was saying? Are not the underlying principles still intact? A political party is technically a private association of individuals who have gathered around a set of ideals with the intent of backing candidates for political office. Even if we had a 1 party system (God forbid), the reasoning of my article stands. Those private organizations have the right to elect their candidate however they see fit.

      Here’s a reframe: Primaries and Caucuses aren’t part of the official election process. Even though they seem that way, they aren’t. The government is not directly involved in them. They are run by political parties to help them determine what their constituents want. Now, they have self-imposed rules about how they follow their constituents’ input, but they are self-imposed.

      The moment we allow the government to dictate how private citizens pick their candidates, we enter a very dangerous world. It doesn’t matter if we think we’re trying to fix a perceived wrong. In politics, the ends do not justify the means.

      How do we fix the 2 party system? I don’t know. I have not study the laws well enough to to venture an idea at this point.

      I merely want to point out the basic principles of political parties. Because once we understand those, we understand how to MORALLY go about addressing the issues at hand. It may seem easier to write a law and have the government enforce it, but “there is a way that seems right to man, but it’s end is death.” (Prov. 14:12).

    • Chris

      We don’t have a two-party system. In the 2012 election, we had 14 different parties fielding candidates. What we have is a plurality voting mechanism, which mathematically favors two parties. In such a system, one party’s loss is another’s gain, and since you only need a plurality to win, parties with the most loyal following are favored over parties that fracture.

  • The problem with your argument is that the Democratic and Republican parties set it up so that it is virtually impossible for the people to form another party. The bosses that control the precincts make the rules and these are the people who decide who goes on the ballot and who doesn’t. Maybe Trump is complaining too much; however, I will concede that he has a point on Colorado – he entered the race on June 16. The RNC said the rules have been in place for several years. Wrong. They changed the rules on Aug 15, when it became obvious he would win Colorado.

    I would agree with you that the RNC and DNC can set the rules and those who wish to run under their banners must conform to the rules. However, to change the rules constantly because you don’t like the outcomes? That sounds rigged to me. If you want people to compete fairly according to your rules, then you have to make the rules known before the game starts and not change them once they do. When the RNC says rules were in place for years, they are lying. At least the Democrats told you the system was rigged from the beginning. To their credit, they didn’t change the rules when the outcomes didn’t meet their expectations.