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Primarily Humorous

It is hilarious when people complain about some aspect of the primary elections as being “undemocratic” or unfair, for a number of reasons. First of all, people complain only when some obscure detail of the primary process works against them (or their favored candidate). Or they just complain when they are losing.

For example, Bernie Sanders and his supporters have complained loudly about the primaries, even claiming that they are rigged against them. But you don’t hear Sanders or his supporters complaining about caucuses, which have been very good to him.

Likewise, Donald Trump complained loud and long about the unfairness of the primaries, until he won. There is plenty of evidence that the Republican primaries are unfair, but Trump actually benefitted from that unfairness. But that didn’t stop him from complaining, and earlier this month he summed up the whole silly game by declaring “You’ve been hearing me say it’s a rigged system, but now I don’t say it anymore because I won. Ok, it’s true. You know, now I don’t care. I don’t care.”

But what is especially hilarious is that the entire institution of political parties is completely undemocratic and unfair. Arguing about details is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The only purpose of political parties is to win elections, and fairness has absolutely nothing to do with it.

We all know this. Every few elections, an aspiring candidate creates a new political party out of thin air and coronates themselves as the nominee of that party. You can’t get much more undemocratic than that! Ross Perot did it more than once, as did Ralph Nader and many others. But do we complain about that? No, because deep down we know that political parties are not fair. George Washington even warned us about them.

And yet we keep tweaking political parties and how they pick their nominees, trying to make them more democratic. Ironically, this usually makes that party lose the election. The current system of superdelegates in the Democratic party was installed for exactly that reason — to ensure that the party’s nominee is electable.

There are solutions to this problem, like the single nonpartisan blanket primary used in Louisiana, California, and other states. But every election year, after the primary is over and the complaining is done, most states just keep using their old “unfair” system.

Don’t just take it from me. John Oliver has a hilarious take on the whole primary and caucus system:



  1. Roy wrote:

    Political parties, as you’ve pointed out many times, are private organizations, like golf clubs, so they can determine membership as they choose. But why does the public have to pay for presidential primary elections when decisions of voters play little, if any role, in candidate selection? The fairest way is an open primary but only a few states use that model. Let the parties pay for their own primaries if they want to continue the farce and governments can used the saved money for something useful or necessary.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I can’t think of any good reason why we taxpayers should pay for private primary elections. Heck, yesterday Washington State just held a primary (paid for by the taxpayers) and the Democratic party rules completely ignore it.

    Of course, there is a reason — because political parties control our politics, so of course they are going to pretend that picking political candidates is a real election and should be paid for by the government.

    If we are going to pay for them, they should be completely non-partisan.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  3. Sqeaky Wheel wrote:

    Regional OPEN Primaries, 5-10 states at a time. That would help with the “fairness” issue. Then campaign finance reform needs to be tackled. Personally, I like the public option with NO private money involved. Then we can return to the “Fairness Doctrine” and truth in political advertising (i.e., no lies allowed, which would hamper quite a few politicians.)

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  4. Carter Shmeckle wrote:

    “The only purpose of political parties is to win elections, and fairness has absolutely nothing to do with it.”

    Substitute “Hillary” for “political parties” in that sentence and you’ve got it about right.

    To the point where half the population is willing to vote for a clinical blowhard instead.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Carter, I’ll ignore for a second that you seem to say these things just to annoy people and point out two things:

    First, I didn’t say that anything was wrong with political parties being only about winning elections. That is their job. But it is a terrible conflict of interest to put them in charge of the rules for elections (the primaries) that help determine who gets elected. Plus I don’t think we should pay for those primaries.

    Second, with a few notable exceptions, I believe most politicians are not *only* about winning elections. Hillary Clinton has worked hard for women’s rights, far harder than if her goal was just to win elections. And many politicians do care about governing. The problem is that you can’t govern if you don’t get elected.

    I don’t even think that Trump is just about winning the election. He is clearly all about getting attention and making money for himself. If he thought he could do it better some other way, he would lose interest in the presidency (like Sarah Palin lost interest in being governor).

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  6. Carter Shmeckle wrote:


    “you seem to say these things just to annoy people ”

    Not true. I mean it.

    You must be speaking with my wife. She also thinks that she can discern my motivation at any given time. 🙂

    BTW, have you read about the State Dept. Inspector General report about Hillary’s email:

    Hillary: “The truth is everything I did was permitted …”

    Report of the Inspector General’s office: ” [We]found no evidence that the Secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server.”

    There apparently is much more damning stuff in the report.

    As I have written before, there are plenty of good reasons to vote for Hillary over Trump. They mainly pertain to Trump’s flaws. What I object to is when Hillary’s ( or any other politician’s) vices are whitewashed.

    I await further apologetics.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  7. redjon wrote:

    I’d be interested to know the statutory penalty for there being “no evidence that the Secretary (of State) requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server.”

    Heck, I’d be interested to see the statute as written during Clinton’s tenure, period. Just to understand exactly how the accusations compare against an actual statute as opposed to what members of the opposition party think should happen.

    Also, why are former Secretaries of State who are/were affiliated with the GOP not subject to the same scrutiny by Congress as former Secretary of State Clinton?

    “Whitewashed,” would imply that Hillary Clinton is being given some sort of a free pass while everybody else is being unfairly persecuted… which seems to me to be a wild mischaracterization of the facts.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  8. Carter Shmeckle wrote:


    ” why are former Secretaries of State who are/were affiliated with the GOP not subject to the same scrutiny by Congress as former Secretary of State Clinton?”

    1. From press accounts, the report notes that the risks involved in private email use were more obvious by the time Clinton took office.

    2. The former GOP Secs of State were scrutinized in the report, based on press accounts.

    3. The former GOP Secs of State aren’t running for prez now.

    4. “Every one else does it too,” even if true, is not a very good defense. Try it the next time you get a traffic ticket. 🙂

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    You lost me when you said “from press accounts”.

    Actually, private email use has become more secure, not less. And it is now far easier to set up a secure mail server than it used to be. The press doesn’t know shit about computer security.

    If doing something illegal should disqualify you from becoming president, then Trump is far more disqualified than Clinton. Just recently, Trump violated federal law by offering Ben Carson a position in his administration in return for his support.

    And that’s not to mention Nixon, Agnew, Reagan, Dubya, and Cheney, who should all have been thrown in jail.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Carter Shmeckle wrote:

    “Trump is far more disqualified than Clinton.”

    I get it. My crook is better than your crook. 🙂

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    Do you honestly believe that bribing someone so you can win an election is a lower level of crookedness than setting up a private email server?

    And do you see people screaming about Trump’s illegal activities (H1-B visas for models, Polish workers) as much as Clinton’s email server (which came from the witch hunt known as Benghazi)? And the difference is not just quantitative, but qualitative. Clinton has admitted that setting up a private email server was a mistake, and there is still no evidence that any harm was done or anything nefarious perpetrated. While Trump has done plenty of perpetrating, and now blatantly lies about what he did.

    What we are reacting against is your contention that Clinton’s flaws are being “whitewashed”, when quite the opposite is painfully obvious. Your resorting to false equivalencies just makes it more annoying.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
  12. Hassan wrote:

    Previous secretary of states used private email, not private email with private server. (not going to talk about security in either scenario).

    No previous secretary of state lied about inconvenience of carrying multiple devices to set the server up, and yet continued using multiple devices.

    Did previous secretary of states deleted server and emails immediately after themselves deciding which emails are personal and which are not?

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    Will someone please explain why people are making a big deal about using a private server, as opposed to just using private email? Or do they not understand how email works?

    You can delete email from either one, and the main reason people set up private servers is for increased security.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  14. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, you cannot delete the servers in private email, so like if I use gmail, I am sure it is easy to get backup from them rather than a private email server.

    In terms of government, there was no security audit of her private server to determine whether it was more secure than government run servers. Secondly if I work for government, I will make sure government takes care of my email, and I will not be responsible for breach. I am assuming you are not implying that Hillary used private server for more security rather than controlling what goes in FOIA and what not.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    > Iron Knee, you cannot delete the servers in private email
    Wrong. I’ve done it plenty of times.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  16. Hassan wrote:

    You have deleted servers? Like if you have hotmail/gmail you have deleted/wiped their backups etc?

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’ve never used hotmail, but even with gmail (which by default keeps messages pretty much forever), there are straightforward and published ways that you can delete a message from a server. It will hang around for a day or two on the latest backup, but will soon be gone. The sheer volume of email is just too large to keep things longer than that.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  18. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, tell that to NSA…

    Posting link just you cannot say its just meta-data not content of an email.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  19. Jonah wrote:

    I think Hillary’s email server issues are fair criticism. To me it implies a sense of entitlement that I find uncomfortable. However she has apologized and admitted it was a mistake and hopefully she is sincere. I don’t she or anyone who is defending what she did should spend too much time on that topic. Her strength is her experience and she should remind the voters of that. All in all, from the interviews and the articles I’ve read, amongst Hillary, Trump and Bernie she seems to be the candidate who is most knowledgeable about the economy, foreign policy, immigration policy and the environment. Granted she is not perfect but to me is the most suitable candidate. Knowledgeable, middle of the road and pragmatic and likely to get things done and intelligent. Hopefully she wins and she appoints people who are able to offer her fresh ideas and keeps her grounded.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 2:46 am | Permalink
  20. Ralph wrote:

    Yeah, what Jonah said.

    The optics do reflect poorly on her with this issue, not the least of which are the critical reports this week from the OIG of her own State Dept., besides the FBI’s own investigation now. And it just further feeds into the general narrative, deserving or not, of the Clintons as opaque, darkly secretive and scheming (as if that’s a unique trait among the political class). In any event, it only adds to her unfavorability rating at a time when people are demanding more accountability and transparency in gov’t, and Sanders’ counter example and tenacity hasn’t helped her either.

    Against a more credible GOP candidate, it might be a show stopper. But Trump is practically a godsend for her, given his own shortcomings and childish buffoonery. The latest soundbite I saw was him mocking Mitt Romney for walking like a penguin. Jesus H. Christ, man, grow the vuck up! In some respects he reminds me of Nixon. Had the world by the short ones but always feeling besieged and paranoid, compelled to lash out at anything or anyone in his way in the harshest, sometimes racist, tones (listen to the Nixon tapes, stunning paranoia and racism). Will Trump ever grow up? Of course not, he won’t, he can’t, it’s the only way he knows how to roll and it’s worked for him so far. I don’t think it’ll work for the general election campaign, but then that was the consensus on Nixon too (though he was a far more artful, if crooked, politician).

    Bottom line for this voter: Clinton is clearly the more qualified and capable candidate but I’ll be holding my nose and hoping for the best while pulling the lever for her this Fall.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink
  21. Carter Shmeckle wrote:

    Jonah & Ralph,

    I think you both make credible arguments for voting for Hillary. I just object when she is made out to be the saint that she isn’t.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  22. Ralph wrote:

    Carter – I’m trying to recall the last time Hillary was made out to a saint and coming up rather empty. Maybe Debbie Wasserman-Shultz is in the tank, but she may soon pay a rather steep price for it at the DNC. And, of course, Chelsea. Howard Dean perhaps. IK, any other candidates?

    Anyway, I’m not looking for a saint to be President, just trying to avoid getting fooled again, to paraphrase The Who. But sometimes you have to wonder if, sadly, that’s a fool’s errand in this political climate.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink
  23. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ralph, I share your frustration. I see the media attacking Clinton all the time (see, and the Republicans continuously creating fake controversies against her — do we really need more investigations into the Benghazi incident than we ever had into the Iraq war? I think Hillary has taken more flack for voting to authorize that war than Bush ever did for misrepresenting it to Congress.

    I find this frustrating because I have never been particularly a fan of the Clintons. I certainly don’t think she is a saint (the only politician I would call that is the late Barbara Jordan). I worked against Clinton to get Obama the nomination in 2008. But right now, I think she is the best candidate for the job. In fact, I think she has become a better candidate now than she was 8 years ago. Many of the things I previously didn’t like about her have since mellowed.

    I think using a private email server was a mistake (and I’ve said that before). Do I think it was a particularly big mistake? Of course not (and I have worked on computer security). Will that stop the Republicans from blowing it out of proportion? Ha!

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  24. Ralph wrote:

    Yeah, on that note I’m reminded of a meme I saw recently that went something like this:

    Sept. 11, 2001 – Islamic militants fly jets into buildings in NY and the Pentagon, killing over 3,000. Republicans blame terrorists.
    Sept. 11, 2012 – Islamic militants attack American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing 4. Republicans blame Hillary Clinton.

    Not to mention the veritable cottage industry of endless congressional investigations costing taxpayers multi-millions (and counting). Republicans have raised the politics of personal destruction, not to mention obstruction, to a fine art.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
  25. Jonah wrote:

    Hillary and democrats only need to convince the independents and bernie supporters to beat Trump. Hardcore republicans aren’t going to be convinced no matter what. And the reality of any election is that no candidate is perfect. Obama had less foreign policy experience and less experience getting bills passed when compared to Mccain. He had less business experience than Romney. Obama went to the same church as a racist preacher and so on. Are trumps policies on immigration, the environment and a whole lot of other matters what most independents and democrats want? I bet not. Voters need to be reminded of the differences in policies between the two. Constantly defending her email practices while at the state dept diverts voters attention from how flawed Trumps policies are and how entitled he feels he is. Hillary is right to say it was a mistake and to point out ok I f’ed up but look at what what I’ve done and what I propose to do vs what the other guy has done and what he’s going to do.

    Friday, May 27, 2016 at 1:54 am | Permalink
  26. Jonah wrote:

    Really not sure what these die hard bernie fans are thinking. ah well. hope for the best and maybe bernie gets practical in the coming days and pulls his people in

    Friday, May 27, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  27. redjon wrote:

    Carter, I’m not defending Clinton; what I’m inferring is that the ONLY reason she is being investigated, now or ever, is BECAUSE she is running for president.

    Judging from your comment #3 above, you agree.

    What bothers me is that your original post infers that Hillary’s vices are being whitewashed when the case is if anything just the opposite.

    Friday, May 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

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