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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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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