Why the primary rules won’t change (and may get more restrictive)

Imagine you have a club.  The Star Trek fan club. You’ve been around for fifty years or so and have been fairly successful.

It’s time for your club to elect a new leader. Suddenly, a new member joins and says, “I want to be your group’s leader, but I really think we should be talking about Star Wars, too.”

“Well, that’s fine,” you say. “Welcome. We can do that, too…”

The new member then brings in a whole bunch of other new members, all of whom prefer Star Wars over Star Trek, but they discover that the rules concerning electing a new leader are quite complicated. Further, they discover that the other person running for leader has been a member of the organization for years and has lots of supporters within the organization, almost all of whom have pledged to support her.

“That’s not fair!” the new guy says. “You should change the rules to prevent that.”

“Well, we have a process for changing the rules,” you say. “It takes some time. If you had joined a few years ago, you could have asked to be on the committee — ”

“That’s illegal!” the new guy says.

Well, no, it’s not. It’s how the private organization runs things. They could, if they wish, prevent new members from voting or get rid of voting completely.

And that’s why you’re not going to see many changes in the way the parties choose their candidates. They’re specifically written by the party to prevent what has happened with both Bernie and Trump — where an outsider comes in and tries to take things over.

The Republicans wish they had superdelegates and other methods that could have prevented Trump from hijacking their party. You can bet that once they lose in November, they will have meetings to discuss how to make getting the party’s nomination more difficult.

The Democrats are not in such a precarious position (since both Bernie and Hillary are generally well-liked among party leaders and, unlike Trump, both are qualified), but the complaints from the Bernie people still resonate among some members.

The problem is that many of Bernie people* don’t get what this is all about. They complain about Hillary courting superdelegates and getting supporters to encourage him to drop out — basically, they’re saying “How dare Hillary use politics to advance her political career!”

Well, this is politics. The fact that she has played it better than Bernie doesn’t mean she has done anything wrong. Let’s face it, gathering supporters around you and making deals is what being a leader is all about. It’s how politicians accomplish their goals and get bills passed. It’s not a bad thing to be able to do this well.

Anyway, don’t expect the rules to become more inclusive over time. If anything, this election has shown the party leaders that they have to make the game more difficult, to prevent outsiders from coming in and taking over.

Whether that is a good thing or not is a discussion for another day.

*Before you criticize me, keep in mind that I am a Bernie supporter. There are valid things to criticize Hillary over. Playing the game by the rules as they currently exist is not a “valid thing”.

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2 thoughts on “Why the primary rules won’t change (and may get more restrictive)

  1. Pingback: Bernie Won!

  2. Pingback: DNC Email links do not mean the primaries were “fixed”

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