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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Does Your Vote Really Matter? The Illusion of Democracy

With the presidential primary elections just kicking off, many will begin to observe the election process play out.

Those voting for the first time will be inclined to ask if their vote will actually matter or make a difference. Others more familiar with the voting process will take the opportunity to vote, recognizing it as a privilege and seeing themselves as potential agents of change.

The current presidential election process is, however, both biased and pre-arranged. A close look at its structural processes reveals that for some, votes matter, but for most, they do not.

The presidential election begins with the Primaries. The Primary elections are the first half of the race, where opposing parties select their strongest candidate to run for president.

For the last 200 years, there have only been two dominant parties for candidates and constituents to choose from. Any candidate unwilling to run on one of the two current mainstream parties (i.e., a third-party candidate), will have no chance of becoming a presidential nominee.

This is where the deception of choice comes in: we have the idea that we’re choosing the candidate, yet, the number of choices are already restricted.

This results in independent candidates having to resort to one of the two parties in order to have any chance of nomination, as is currently the case for presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

After a lineup of candidates is established, voters choose a candidate when their day to vote comes around. There are four primary voting states that vote roughly a week apart in February. March 1st is Super Tuesday, where half the states in the country hold their vote on the same day. The rest of the states gradually add in their votes, with all primary votes, completed in June.

States vote in two different ways: in a primary where individual voters in the party go to the polls and cast their vote, and in a caucus, where local voters get together in a large room and count up the votes. After votes are counted in each state, the delegates report the winner of their district, as requested by their constituents.  

The scheduling and breaks between each state vote creates a vast representative imbalance in a representative democracy. After three or four states cast their vote, the party nominee is generally determined, and the other 46 states having no real say in the voting process. Voters in California will simply not be as involved in the campaigning process because they are the last to vote. Therefore, they practically have no influence.

For Iowans, however, as the first to vote, they have tremendous influence on who the next president will be, explaining why candidates spend the majority of their time in Iowa. As we saw recently, the Iowa Caucus resulted in a swift shrinkage of candidates and sharpened predictions of who the future nominees will be.

Candidates with poor results quickly dropped out and corporate donations were quickly gained and lost for campaigns, thus leaving only three of four relevant candidates. Instantly, we find out who the establishment candidate will be from the river of super PAC money that flows their way.

This year, it was Marco Rubio. The two-week break between state votes provides the media with ample time to obsess on the candidate’s results, drawing conclusions for viewers. The undecided voter will most likely resort to voting for the candidate that is still in the race and in the lead. With only a few candidates left, options are limited.

The voter who was set on a candidate that dropped out will have to resort to voting for someone else, most likely the frontrunner candidate in their party. All of this leads to states typically picking the candidate that was favored in the state before. This situation logically leads to the suggestion to hold the primary elections on the same day for all states to avoid this discrepancy, as is done in the general election.

The larger matter corresponds to the nature of the primary states that vote first: simply, they do not represent the nation as a whole, but this small population sets the tone and heavily influences who we vote for. If the states that voted early were states that reflected America’s diverse complexion, such as New York or California, it would be a different story. Unfortunately, states that vote first are predominantly white conservative rural states, most definitely not a reflection on the U.S. population.

The vote starts with the Iowa Caucus, recently taking place on February 1st. Iowa is a rural conservative state filled with Evangelical Christian families, not to mention it is 93.9% White. A week later comes the first primary in New Hampshire, which is considered the most conservative state in the northeast. It is very similar to Iowa with 96% of the population identifying as White with abundant conservative and Christian values.

Once New Hampshire votes, the nominee for the parties becomes obvious. Eleven days later, South Carolina votes. A bit more diverse in population, the Palmetto State identifies as 29.5% African American. The Nevada caucus is also held on the same day, with mostly white elderly conservative ranchers making up the population of the state.

After Nevada and South Carolina, the candidate is typically certain. A week later, Super Tuesday comes around, with half the nation placing their votes. Some of these states, such as Arkansas and Alabama, do not represent the nation as a whole.

Candidates are chosen by a specific audience and a sub-set of states that, again, don’t represent the entire nation. In reality, if a state like California was first to vote, we would most likely not get a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio in the lead.

In truth, the primary voting states are very different from the majority of the U.S. population that does not get a real say in the voting process. Again, this reveals the illusion of a democratic system.​​

And then comes the superdelegates. Superdelegates count as 20% of the Democratic vote and strictly represent the establishment. Any time a candidate wins a majority vote without a 20 percent lead, their win can be shut down if the superdelegates disagree with the people’s vote.

The super delegates are a complete slap to the face of democracy and the people’s choice. For this reason, superdelegates threaten Bernie Sanders’ chance of becoming the Democratic party nominee. If he wins over Clinton by less than 20 percent, the chance of him overcoming the superdelegates are slim to none.

Why?

The superdelegates consist of the party elite. They are all the Democratic House and Senate seats, as well as mayors and former vice presidents. Although polls show that Sanders has a better chance of winning in the general election against Trump or Cruz than would Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party would still rather take their chances with Clinton than break ties with the establishment.

It is important to note that everything described above undermines the democratic election cycle. This is not part of the Constitution or how our founding fathers structured the voting process.

The rigid two-party system emerged in 1796 in order to fight off the Federalist Party. The periods of time between primaries and caucus’ initially started because of a New Hampshire state law stating they would vote a week before everyone else in the country.

Superdelegates were created in 1981 in order to restore power to the Democratic Party insiders. The corporate super PAC fundings, which reinvigorated Citizens United v. FEC, undermines democracy. Politicians favor the wishes of corporations over people.

None of these features are constitutionally valid. This is not how our founding fathers implemented the election process. The founding fathers foresaw the Constitution and voting process in a definite way in order to avoid corruption and discrepancies.

If they thought that having party insiders with control of 20 percent of the vote was a good idea, they would have written it into the Constitution. Over the years, parties have implemented policies to further take control of voting and deny it to the people.

The majority of people simply do not have the control they deserve; yet the illusion of a democracy continues to persist.