Do politics confuse you? Do you think that the Electoral College is a place where you can get your bachelor’s degree? Do you exercise your right to vote only when it comes American Idol? Fear not, elections can be a scary thing to understand, (Dick Cheney is a part of them). In the whirlwind of the election year, confusion runs rampant, and it is not easy to understand what is happening. But fear no more, here is a guide that can help you navigate this tricky political season. In this guide, you find an explanation as to what primaries are, what the Electoral College does, and how to find the perfect candidate to vote for. These helpful hints should answer some questions about the presidential elections and help you feel more confident when you step into the voting booth this fall.
1. Primaries are there to make things fair
I hope you know at this point that we live in a democracy, which means we believe that the people decide how the government is run. However, to make things muddy from the start, America is a representative democracy. Would you want to vote on every single issue that America has to deal with? No! Where would we find time to watch Glee and Modern Family? We don’t have the time or the patience to vote on every single issue that America faces, so instead we elect men and women to make decisions for us.
Since the public doesn’t make the laws, they want to make sure that their interests are represented. Think about it, you want the person you like best to be making the decisions, right? Well, this is why we have things call primaries before elections. Primaries are kind of like elections before the official election. During primaries, you have a whole list of candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties, and people vote which candidate they want to be on the ballot during the official election. They aren’t voting for the person right now, they’re just saying that they want to have the opportunity to vote for that person when the election comes. This is done to narrow the candidate field and to give people an easier choice on who to vote for.
Primary elections for the presidential election are what have just happened. The Republican Party was not sure who they want to run for president, so different states were voting for whom they wanted as the candidate. Then, at the Republican convention, the candidate who gathered the most votes will receive the nomination. However, this can often weaken a party because Republicans were debating each other for the spot. The Democrats don’t have to worry about primaries this year because President Obama can run for re-election, so why waste time with other candidates when the party can stay united and build funds for Obama’s election?
2. You don’t actually vote for the President
This is the real confusing part: the public doesn’t vote for the president. When you vote, you aren’t voting for the president. You are voting for electorates, who will then vote for the president. It’s part of the Electoral College system. When this country was founded, our fathers wanted to be able to give the president legitimacy. In other words, they wanted to make sure that the president could claim he or she won with a majority. This led to the Electoral College. Each state has a certain number of electors, and when you vote, you are actually voting for the electors who have promised to vote for the president. Whichever electors get the most votes win the state, and then those electors get to vote for the president. This gives the president all the points in the state, even if he or she only won by 51%. This was how President Bush won the 2000 election. Even though Al Gore had more of the popular vote, Bush won more points in the Electoral College. So you see, you never get to vote for the president, you just vote for people who have agreed to vote for the president.
3. You won’t agree with any Presidential Candidate
There are some people that are really conservative, who believe taxes should be lowered and abortion abolished. There are also some people who are liberal. They want a decrease in military spending and universal healthcare. Guess what, the president probably wants neither. A presidential candidate is hardly ever super-liberal or uber-conservaitve, (no matter what FoxNews or CNN want you to believe). The reason for this goes back to America being a democracy. The public wants a president who represents them best, and since the country has both liberals and conservatives, it makes sense that the president would be someone who falls in the middle politically. This means that, even if the president is from the political party you like, you might not agree with everything he or she believes. Guess what, that’s okay. When it comes to presidential elections, the best thing to do is vote for the candidate whom you agree with more. They won’t see eye to eye with you on everything, so pick the person whom you share most of your views with.
So there you go, a brief political guide into the presidential election. I hope this has helped you in understanding how America elects its leader. Remember, the best thing to do is be informed. Watch the news from time to time, research the candidates online. It’s your future your voting for, don’t be scared of it, embrace it, and take part in deciding something bigger than picking America’s next generic pop star.