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If you want a vote, go to a caucus

By Staff | Feb 28, 2016

I have only been walking and breathing on this planet long enough to have seen 16 presidential elections.

And this current one seems to be the strangest one of all.

However, to everyone who thinks this is the ‘worst’ election ever, historians are quick to cry out.

It seems there have been many, many, nasty, controversial, strange and even bizarre elections for U.S. President in the past.

In fact, historians urge people to do a little research and see for themselves.

It started already with the ones in 1796 and 1800, where John Adams and Thomas Jefferson each ran against each other, and each won Adams first, then Jefferson in 1800.

It was a bitter rivalry, a nasty election, and it was a huge mess.

It resulted in the 12th amendment to the constitution wherein presidents and vice presidents would now run together.

Before that time, the person who got the most votes was president, the second place guy became vice president.

Now that must have been an uncomfortable situation. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton being elected president and Donald Trump becomes the vice president? Or vice-versa?


The presidential election of 1824 has been noted as the ‘worst’ ever, with John Quincy Adams winning a very contested race among four candidates (all from the same party). It had to go to the House of Representatives to decide who should be president.

But there have been many other nasty campaigns. The one in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln won and the United States became ununited is a prime example.

The one in 1876 with Rutherford B. Hayes winning was a real mess. So was the one in 1912 with Woodrow Wilson.

Then there is Harry Truman being elected in 1948. You do remember that infamous incorrect headline, don’t you? Dewey defeats Truman! Or not.

Heck, the election in 2000 with George W. Bush defeating Al Gore because of hanging chads in Florida was a real doozy, too, now that I think about it.

Let’s face it, we have a very odd and weird and, yes, bizarre way of electing our most important public official, the POTUS. (I guess that means President of the United States. I recently learned that.)

I have long been a proponent of abolishing the electoral college.

I mean, really, why do we have a system where it is possible for a presidential candidate to get the most votes of the people and yet not be elected?

Yes, it is true.

That is because the voters in each state are actually voting for electoral college members, and those special people will do the actual voting for the presidency.

And, if they can’t decide, then the House of Representatives gets to pick the president, regardless of the actual vote of the people. And, that has happened in the past.

Sad, but true.

And if you don’t think someone with the most votes can lose, just check your history books, again.

Or ask Al Gore.

But the other oddity in our system is this selection process for someone to be a candidate. I mean the caucuses specifically. Which, by the way, is just a way of selecting delegates to the national political party conventions.

Who thought up this plan?

So why do just the people who take the time to go to the caucus get to decide who should run for president?

Why do some states have their caucuses early, while others have them later?

I mean, the poor Republicans in Minnesota don’t even have a chance to vote for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Carly Fiorina, because they have all been ousted from contention by the folks in Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Nevada before Minnesotans even had a chance to decide.

And why do some states split up their delegates to reflect the votes, while others have a ‘winner take all’ philosophy?

All good questions. And, if you wonder why the government doesn’t have better rules for all this, it is because they don’t control the process the political parties do.

It is all about grass roots politics, and letting all of us regular people have a say in who runs and who doesn’t.

But, because of that, the process does get messy at times, and occasionally, like this year for instance, gets very strange.

The bottom line is that if you want a say as to who will run for president, you need to head to your local precinct caucus on Tuesday night. Because, that is where it all happens.