With 2016 upon us, and the American presidential race gaining steam, there are a lot of different political opinions being thrown about with, as per usual, the least informed people expressing the most strident opinions. Since those people don’t rely upon actual facts to make decisions, a clear, reasoned presentation of empirical evidence and unbiased information would be wasted on them. They’ve made up their minds, and that’s that.
Oh how I envy those people. Regrettably, I have found, like Einstein, that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. You would think that with knowledge comes certainty, but quite the opposite is actually true. The more you know, the less you know you actually know, and the less you actually know, the more you think you know. Besides being an interesting philosophical point, the consequence of this is that unfortunately, those people who are least qualified to share their opinions are the very same people who are most vocally opinionated, while more sensible people, being acquainted with the idea of self-doubt, are less likely to shove their more reasonable views down your throat.
This means of course that most of the more enthusiastic political discourse being disseminated as we enter election season is coming from radically opinionated dumb idiots who lack opposable thumbs or the ability to comprehend the potential merits of differing points of view, but somehow retain the base animal cunning necessary to utilize cherry-picked statistics and skewed pseudo-data to lend perceived-credibility to their particular brand of insanity.
This post is not for those people. This post is for the rest of us. The doubters. The thinkers. The reasonable. The people asking: how does the United States electoral system work, and who are the current candidates? In this section I will focus on the former question, and save my thoroughly researched biographies of the political candidates for a follow up post.
How the United States electoral system works:
Rich people take money from other rich people, and spend the money lying to poor people and throwing fundraisers for more money in an attempt to get nominated as the representatives of their chosen political parties. Ostensibly, there are several political parties, as well as the freedom to run as an unaligned independent. In reality, there are two political parties, Republican and Democrat. Republicans believe in greed, small government, deregulation of business, and being proudly evil. Democrats believe in greed, ineffective government, bloated bureaucracy, and being secretly evil.
Some states have their primary nominations for presidential candidates earlier than others, so the candidates focus on the early states and ignore the later states, because only the early ones matter. Candidates also ignore states that predominantly vote for the rival party, and focus on the few “swing” states who consider candidates based on actual merit, and not entrenched political affiliation. (example: a Democratic candidate isn’t going to win in Texas, a die-hard Republican state, so they don’t bother campaigning there, but both Republicans and Democrats campaign heavily in Ohio, because Ohio, a “swing” state, might vote either way)
Once the candidate receives their party’s nomination, they become the official options for who can become president of the United States during that election cycle. Although it is legal to “write-in” a different candidate of your own choosing when you cast your vote on election day, the possibility of this write-in candidate winning is exactly zero, and likely doesn’t even serve a useful purpose as an expression of social rebellion, or even a clever joke, since in a time-honored tradition, the voting ballots are promptly discarded in the nearest active volcano and replaced with fake, made up results, thanks to Obama, who has been rigging elections since the world began in 1798.
With the candidates chosen, a popular vote is cast for the nominated party candidates. This vote occurs with eligible voters throughout the nation, and votes can be cast for individual candidates, or as an umbrella vote along party lines. (So voters don’t have to know anything about the particular candidates or go through the stress of making an informed decision, they can just go Durr, me like red, so me vote Republican, or Gee golly, I’m blue (dabba dee dabba dye) and vote Democrat). Depending on the State, eligible voters usually include adult white male landed gentry, and sometimes grudgingly the plebeian rabble consisting of gays, womens, peoples of color, and other undesirables.
M. Night Shyamalan plot twist however, the popular vote is not actually a direct vote for the presidential candidates, it’s for “electors” who are people that represent their state as a smaller pool of actual voters and will supposedly vote for a particular candidate on behalf of the rest of the State population.
The “electors”, temporarily gifted with complete immunity from all State and Federal laws, now descend into an orgy of brutality and violence as they hunt the most dangerous game of all, their fellow man. This period of bloody power consolidation is heavily televised from the Capitol, and followed by the general populace with the rabid fanaticism usually reserved only for sporting events such as the Superbowl or the World Series. Once the field of electors has been suitably self-winnowed, the survivors then cast their votes. Usually they vote for the presidential candidate they said they’d initially vote for, but sometimes they’re sneaky snakes, or driven mad by the nightmarish election process, and pull the old switcheroony. This has on no less than 33 occasions led to the election by the electoral college of a new president who had actually lost the popular vote. Ah, representative Democracy at its finest.
Once the Presidential elect is identified through the mystic art of shaking a magic eight ball, the American populace slowly subsides into its normal state of disgruntled malaise and depressed apathy, while the losing candidates return to their respective political parties castles to lick their wounds and plot how to be sore losers and disrupt all of the the winner’s efforts to effectively govern and help the American people. The winner meanwhile has to begin the thankless task of giving their campaign contributors their promised infinity blow jobs, and in between taking sticky loads to the face from lumpy diseased corporate wieners, they need to come up with a plan on how to best betray the American people at the behest of those selfsame corporate overlords.
Now that I’ve clarified HOW the American electoral process works, I’ll introduce you to the players in this exciting political drama, and answer the burning question: WHO are the candidates?