What are the Primaries?

Hillary and Obama

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According to the historians of the ruling class, “progressives” in the early 20th Century developed the primary system in order to counteract the control of political parties by the “party bosses.”  In order to do this (so it is claimed), they removed control of the selection of candidates from the hands of the parties themselves and placed it in the hands of the states.  But far from removing control from the party bosses, this merely gives the two-party system the states’ stamp of approval.  In most other countries, the nomination of candidates is the responsibility of parties and their members.

Not only does the primary system not prevent the Democratic and Republican National Committees from deciding in oligarchic fashion who the nominee will be, irrespective of the wishes of their party majorities, it actually ensures that the party rank and file will have no voice.

Take for example, the case of so-called unpledged delegates or “super delegates.”  These essentially consist of the party’s leadership (their national committees, ex-Presidents and presidential candidates, Senators, governors, etc.) and carry enough weight to sway the election any way they please.  At the Democratic National Convention this year, “super delegates” will make up around one-fifth of all delegates.  To put that in some perspective, that makes the vote of a single “super delegate” equal to the votes of around 10,000 people!

Depending on the law and party rules in a given state, delegates may not even be bound to carry out the will of the voters!  So, depending on where you live, your “vote” on primary day may amount to little more than a friendly suggestion.

Additionally, the entire scheduling process favors rural areas over urban centers, white votes over Black votes, farmers over workers, etc.  By opening the elections in Iowa, Wyoming, and New Hampshire, the leadership of the Democrats and Republicans give these traditionally more conservative populations a say in who the nominees will be that is entirely out of proportion to their numbers in society.

It is fruitless, however, to merely suggest that the leaders of these parties “change their ways,” as they are fully aware of what they are doing and whose interests they serve.  What we need is a party of our own, a mass party of labor, which would be the most democratic  party in the history of this country, with a leadership and candidates directly elected by and accountable to the membership.


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