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The State of the Party
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Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 because he represented the antithesis our political system had become. People felt our elected representatives weren’t representing our interests. And, despite Trump’s shortcomings, he did. It was business not as usual. And, it was seismic.

Our political process is messy and often unfair. As America’s demographics shift, from rural to urban and from white to multi-ethnic, our ability to adjust is slow. Adherents to the past drag their feet or worse, actively engage in voter suppression and gerrymandering to stop this change. But, the people want to shift the status quo. This is why Trump won and this is why Bernie Sanders is so popular. Both represent populist movements, a chance for the people to assert their will over a process that hasn’t reflected Americans’ concerns. Social media has given us the conduit to express our opinions. Yet, it, too, is messy and presents a false sense of the plurality. This "freedom" is new and rough. And, we aren’t ready to adjust just yet. The chaos is everywhere. And, we feel uncomfortable and angry.

Presidential primaries have always been turbulent: a free-for-all mix of ideologies and potential fixes to what ails us with unsubstantiated claims on how we will afford them. The Democrat debates reflect this. Each candidate is vying for important air time. Moderators losing control. And, if candidates answer their questions, they immediately veer to other talking points they want to make. Or, they interrupt when they feel unfairly accused. Any semblance of order and clarity is lost amongst this cacophony. I get little from these slugfests other than a sense of who best could stand on the debate stage next to a Trump who revels in anarchy.

Our primary system needs to catch up to these changes. With the media focusing on early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, both not very representative of the country as a whole, undo weight is placed on the winners of these contests. Caucuses skew the results even more.

Presidential primaries are a relatively new phenomena. Historically, insider powerbrokers decided who a party’s nominee would be. That began to crumble after the violent 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Hubert Humphrey was the nominee, even though he had not won a single primary. After that, primary results became binding, giving some power back to the people. The Democrat Party apparatus reasserted its power in the 1980s by instituting "Superdelegates," political insiders who did not come from primary outcomes. And, while there was major discord during the 2016 convention, they remain part of the process, albeit with some rule changes for 2020.

The Washington Post asked ten experts with various academic and political experience to recommend changes to the primary system. Recommendations range from small to institutional. Bob Kerrey, former governor and senator from Nebraska, suggests the Constitution be amended to break the "monopoly of the two-party system" on making the rules. Political parties are not part of our government. They’re not mentioned in the Constitution. And, yet, we are beholden to their apparatuses to elect our chief executive. Kerrey suggests a ten member commission that would be tasked with making these rules. Alex Conant, former communications director of Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, thinks we should have even more debates. Alex, we’re tired as it is. I don’t think more is better. I’d rather have more one-on-ones: a chance to hear candidates speak unscripted but without all the noise (like the interviews CNN will conduct with each candidate as a prelude to Super Tuesday).

It’s clear changes need to be made. Voters aren’t getting all we could from our present system. It feels like anarchy at a time we want confidence in our process. Make it stop! And, if the Democrat National Committee and the Republican National Committee won’t do it, the people will. Haven’t you guys been listening?!

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Follow the history of our country’s political intransigence from 2010-2018 through a six-part exhibit of these posters on Google Arts & Culture.

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