A Brit’s View Of The Primaries: Your Girl In The USA

British in USA California Election

It’s an election year and I’m bloody excited! It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced a US election on actual US turf. And not only that, it’s my first US election since I became a Permanent Resident. If I decide to get my dual citizenship when I am eligible in 18 months time (I probably will at some point, but I still have my doubts) then this will be the last one that I’m not actually allowed to vote in.

Yes, that’s right. As a Lawful Permanent Resident I can legally donate all my money to candidates and buy a nice, shiny button to show my support, but I am not allowed to vote. Despite the fact that I am allowed to live here forever (the clue is in the permanent part) I am not allowed to participate in any decisions about the future of this country. I understand- I’m sure it’s the same in most countries and voting is seen as a privilege of getting citizenship. But considering every decision made in the US applies the same to me as it does a citizen, and I’ve always had a very active interest in politics, I sure wish I could.

American donuts 4th July

But that isn’t stopping me from getting excited. Being in the US in an election year is an education in itself. Before we even get to the general election, we have to pick the candidates for each party. This is the interesting and rather drawn out process we are enjoying right now.

States can choose between holding a primary or a caucus. Who knew there were still modern countries in the world that use “standing on one side of a room, while people on the other side of the room try to convince you to stand with them” (or at least, that’s how it appears to me) as a form of voting?

Nobody Puts A Presidential Candidate In The Corner

As far as I understand it, a caucus is kind of like a very important, optional to attend, meeting. Everyone has to show up at the same time to “discuss” (argue about?) the candidates and then vote. While the Republican caucuses are  pretty straight forward and appear to involve simply using the very modern implements of a piece of paper and pencil to nominate a candidate, the Democratic caucuses seem to be the most exciting, strange and old-fashioned. Voters literally go to an area of a room to demonstrate whom they wish to support. Candidates need to get a certain percentage of the vote for it to be counted, hence people trying to convince other voters to join their side.

Though utterly bizarre to an outsider, it does sound somewhat fun and I’m considering getting citizenship and moving to Iowa in four years just so I can take part in one (California doesn’t caucus, it holds primary ballots- AKA, the regular way of voting).

I’m not sure how many states caucus and how many do a primary ballot, but there seems to be one or the other on TV just about pretty much every time I turn it on. Yes, they  televise every one of these things on CNN. Which is good because at least I have something other than HGTV to binge watch now.

2016 Elections USA

Every Vote Matters, Or Not

You know what else I find strange about all this? These primaries and caucuses are spread out over many, many months. California is one of the last states to hold them and so, unless it’s an extremely close election year, there is basically no point anymore. The party candidates have probably, theoretically at least, already been chosen. Why don’t they just hold them all on the same day? That way everyone’s votes will count, instead of some states being seen as more important than others. That would seem fairer, but what do I know, eh?

I feel quite pleased with myself for how much of this complicated process I’ve already been able to understand. Like how in each state, candidates get assigned delegates proportionate to how many votes they got in that state. These delegates (actual people- awesome job!) then go to the party conference to represent the voting wishes of their state. So the candidates don’t officially get picked until the summer conferences (even though there’s no fooling us and we will all know who it is way before then).

Super What?

It all sounded rather fair and reasonable to me until I found out about the superdelegates. Yes, superdelegates (may not be an official name). The Democrates have these delegates who are not bound to support a certain candidate by a state’s election, but can basically vote for whoever they want. There are about 747 of them but technically they could swing the vote if it was incredibly close. This seems somewhat undemocratic to me. What’s so super about these people?

Permanent Resident USA Vote

Anyway, I’m excited because this Tuesday is Super Tuesday (again, possibly not an official name. Although you never know). That means several states are holding their elections on the same day. With that and the Dodgers’ spring training schedule, I’m probably not getting much work done for the foreseeable future.

And The Winner Is…

At least at the end of all of this we get a nice, shiny new President, right? Err no. This whole round of elections is just to pick who gets to RUN for President. Who gets to go up against the other party and TRY to be President. After months and months of campaigning, and voting they don’t even get the job yet. They just get to have a go at winning the job.

I’m seriously exhausted for the candidates. Exhausted but intrigued. The system is so incredibly different to the UK one (which is, to be honest, extremely bizarre itself). I feel like I learn something new everyday. This year is particularly thrilling with rivalry raging in both parties (I haven’t worked out why there are only two parties here, yet. It seems somewhat limiting). I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Even though I can’t vote, America, I’m invested in this- I hope y’all make a good choice.

British in USA view of primaries

What do you think of the caucuses and primaries? Are they really different to your home country or are you an American who is going to vote?

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12 thoughts on “A Brit’s View Of The Primaries: Your Girl In The USA

  1. I enjoyed reading this as I’m British too and have been enjoying watching the coverage from across the pond (but am also super confused as to how everything works so your explanations made it a little easier)!

  2. You had me laughing right out loud!!! What a fantastic take you already have on our election process. Don’t worry – it’s very strange to us too and OMG – have you noticed how long the lead-up to the actual elections have been going on?!?!? Top-Notch job Joella! Can’t wait until you can vote!!!

      1. I am thinking it really began over a year ago in December of 2014! I’m so “OVER IT”! I knew who I was voting for from the get-go! However, the many debates have been quite entertaining! Complete with “Drinking Games”!

    1. Hi Rashaad- I don’t have to give up my British citizenship. The UK allows you to hold dual citizenship and the US doesn’t care if I keep my UK one or not, as long as I use my US passport to enter the US (now I use my greencard) and pay my taxes haha! 🙂

  3. I find US politics so fascinating and I know much more about it than Canadian politics, I think because of media (movies, TV shows, and social—Twitter, etc.). How exciting (and maybe at times annoying?) to be living in the States during an election year!

  4. I followed both of the last US elections so closely – I find the whole drama and soap opera of it so fascinating. But this year I’ve just not bothered at all. I can’t get into it for some reason. Maybe I’ve been out of the West too long. 😛 I think I’m terrified about the UK’s EU referendum this year though. Are you going to vote for that from overseas? 🙂

    1. This election year seems to be especially weird so I don’t blame you for staying out of it! I know what you mean about the referendum. I think the vote will be to stay in though…I hope! (Two of my sisters live in Europe so I wonder if they would have to leave if we pulled out??). I am registered to vote. When I moved to Beijing I changed my vote to a proxy vote so my mum can vote on my behalf. How about you?

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