Posts Tagged ‘primary’


A New Civics Book is Needed

April 16, 2017



Try to imagine what it must be like to look at our democracy from the outside looking in.  What would citizens of other democracies think about our systemwide process?  Worse yet, what would the peoples of third world countries living under dictatorships or monarchies think?  If we made an objective analysis of the sequence of accepted practices from candidacy to office, promises to policy to law, would we be comfortable in rewriting our civics books to conform to a reality that we would be proud to teach our children?

If we printed the truth, here’s how the civics books should read.

In the United States candidates for President compete against one another in election party primaries.  The candidate who can get the most funding from corporate donations and (wink, wink) external support from organizations called Super-Pacs, who can spend unlimited amounts of their own money, makes implied promises to support their benefactor’s goals with favorable policy and by their combined and overwhelming  marketing efforts will, more often than not, win.

To further their mutual aims, a candidate is allowed to malign the competition with what are known as smears and dirty tricks.  It is not important that either are factual or true and it is best that they are most outrageous and even unbelievable.  To assure that they are memorable a candidate will invent a name for his or her opponent that marks them for the duration and will repeat the name calling at every opportunity.

Opponents are obliged to respond in kind and in righteous indignation call the offender to task, only fanning the flames of the controversy.  In a last ditch effort, with their dying breath, they exclaim the dark truth regarding the offending candidate, who after winning the primary, they will support in the national election as if their words were never uttered.  This is called party unity.

At some point there will be a debate.  The winner of the debate is the one who commits to nothing regarding policy but talks in broad terms about American ideals, patriotism and values, and more importantly has clever and witty retorts that play well in the news in the following days.

Once in office, the winning candidate must “pivot.”  To pivot is to change direction from stated goals to working policy which are always quite different.  The new President will praise his opponents and offer them positions in his administration. These much maligned losers will run to support their leader with new found praise extolling his or her “winning” virtues.  This is called building a consensus.

At the end of every chapter there is always a short quiz.  Here’s the one I think should be included.

1.) What is party unity and how does it advance democratic ideals on issues opposed by a majority of voters?

2.) If a pivot reflects what a candidate should have professed and truly believes, then why do they make promises they do not intend to keep?

3.) What is the value of a consensus if it sweeps the ugly truth “under the rug?”