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comment by Quatrarius
Quatrarius  ·  1392 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: It's Not Over | Bernie Sanders

This grew a lot as I was writing it - apologies in advance for the infodump. If this was more information than you wanted, sorry about that too.

Intro to American politics/background to this election: Every 2 years elections are held for the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Presidential elections happen every 4 years, and 2016 is a presidential election year. Only two political parties matter: the Republican Party (generally right-wing) and the Democratic Party (generally left-wing). The Republican Party currently holds both the House and the Senate, but there's a Democratic president, Barack Obama. Obama is term-limited, so he can't run for president anymore, making this the first election since 2008 without an incumbent president.

Current state of the election: primary season, which is when both major parties hold elections in each state to determine who will represent them in the general election. Only two states have held primaries so far (Iowa and New Hampshire). Because they vote first, those two states have a lot of influence over what candidates will continue on. 7 candidates have dropped out already after doing badly in them. The Republican candidates still in the race are Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson. The Democratic candidates still in are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, Cruz won Iowa and Trump won New Hampshire. On the Democratic side, Clinton and Sanders tied in Iowa and Sanders won in New Hampshire. Nevada and South Carolina vote next, then things start to get a little busy. Because they're so competitive this year, the primaries probably won't be decided until the majority of states have voted.

The candidates:

Ted Cruz and Ben Carson both represent the more religious, right-wing, anti-establishment wing of the Republican party.

Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush represent the more moderate establishment wing of the Republican party.

Donald Trump is the odd one out here. On some issues he's an extremist (immigration), but on others he's more moderate or almost left-wing (campaign finance reform). He is by far the most anti-establishment candidate, which is what makes it so shocking that he's currently the frontrunner.

Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate on the Democratic side, and her policies are essentially a continuation of Obama's. She has overwhelming support among Democratic elected and party officials.

Bernie Sanders is farther left than any other candidate in the race, which is why everybody on the Internet seems to like him. He was one of the few senators that were unaffiliated with either of the two parties, but in practice he voted with the Democrats most of the time. He's viewed as an outsider by most higher-ups in the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders is gaining ground against HIllary Clinton, but is still polling far behind her in most states. He has the momentum of a 20-point win in New Hampshire, but conditions for him there were abnormally favorable: New Hampshire borders Sanders' home state of Vermont, and also has very few minority voters, who tend to vote against him. The next few primaries are mostly in the South, and those states are demographically unfavorable to Sanders. Sanders' chances would improve greatly if he came close or won in those states.

The Republican field used to be a lot more crowded (13 candidates), but the first two primaries have cleared it down to 6. Donald Trump is the most popular candidate nationally, and is favored to win the next two primaries. Ted Cruz, who has the most support in the evangelical vote, is likely to do well in the Southern states after that. If he manages to beat Trump badly enough in those states, Cruz could claim frontrunner status. Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Jeb Bush, as the moderate candidates, are most likely to do well in more liberal states which tend to vote later. This could hurt them if either Trump or Cruz manage to build up momentum from their own earlier victories. Ben Carson has been mostly undercut by Ted Cruz, and I don't see him staying in much longer if he loses again.

Then when all this is over, the real election starts. Which might actually be the boring part this time around. Turnout is higher in presidential election years, which favors Democrats. Demographics do as well. Without knowing who will represent each party, it's hard to know for sure.





ThatFanficGuy  ·  1391 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't see what you have to apologize for. You've done a great job introducing me to the US politics so far, and I'm looking forward to learning more.

I have questions about what you've said by this point. I hope you don't mind me asking on. Some questions are without respective quotes - mostly because they're more general.

    Every 2 years elections are held for the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate

What those two bodies of government represent, and what is their respective responsibilities, in simple terms?

Why do only the two parties matter? Solely because they're the biggest (I hear a lot about them and barely anything, even in history, about any other)?

    The Republican Party currently holds both the House and the Senate, but there's a Democratic president, Barack Obama.

What does the partition mean for the country's political atmosphere? What's those positions', party-wise, influence on the country so far - that is, for example, how is a Democrat president different from a Republican president? Does it even matter what party they are? Does it matter if the President is an unaffiliated person, parties-wise, and why if it does?

    Only two states have held primaries so far (Iowa and New Hampshire)

Why do they hold the first primaries? Why is the order of the primaries as it is currently? Clearly, it's not alphabetical, and I don't have a map of the US to confirm that it's geographical.

    Donald Trump is the odd one out here. On some issues he's an extremist (immigration), but on others he's more moderate or almost left-wing (campaign finance reform). He is by far the most anti-establishment candidate, which is what makes it so shocking that he's currently the frontrunner.

I shall pray for you, my friends in the United States, if this man gets elected as your country's President, because this promises to be a disaster. So far, I've heard nothing good about him, and from what I've seen of him personally (on the Internet), he's a terrible person to run the country and gives off a vibe of a terrible person overall. This is not someone to have the rule over one of the world's most military-equipped countries in the world... and I wanted to add "with an enemy that Russia is", but hearing from the recent article linked to on Hubski about the Russian state of affairs (from participating in the discussion of which I was banned by kleinbl00 - damn shame), citizens of US or their government doesn't really consider Russia an enemy - or, at least, an enemy worthy of fighting as much as the Russian propaganda leads us to believe. I'll ask about this through #russiabynatives: I'd like to get to know what the outsiders - that is, those outside Russia - think of or see Russia as.

    [Hillary Clinton] has overwhelming support among Democratic elected and party officials.

What about the people? What does the general population think of her? I don't know of her political agenda or promises, but so far, she gives off a vibe of a person I'd trust to run my country had I been a US citizen.

Why do Republicans have so many presidential candidates? Is it because the last president was Democrat?

Finally, is it "president" or "President" in English?

Thank you very much for such a detailed yet concise report on the politics of the country I look up to.

rob05c  ·  1391 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What those two bodies of government represent, and what is their respective responsibilities, in simple terms?

I'd also add to Q's response: the reasons the House and Senate each exist.

House representatives from each state are a percentage of the population. Senate representatives are two-per-state. The purpose of the House is to provide per-person representation, that is, true Democracy. The purpose of the Senate is to provide per-state representation, that is, to prevent states with huge populations from oppressing states with tiny populations.

    Finally, is it "president" or "President" in English?

Proper American English requires capitalising the word 'President' in direct reference US past and current Presidents. For example, 'The President', 'President Obama', and 'former President Bill Clinton', but 'the president of the athletic club' and even 'the president of the United States'.

When not including the name, it gets a little tricky. 'President' should be capitalised when it replaces their name. So, 'The Civil War president freed the slaves', but 'The President is over there'.

Incidentally, 'Speaker' in reference to the Speaker of the House is the other exception to standard capitalisation rules. It is always capitalised. For example, 'Speaker Paul Ryan' and even 'Have you seen the Speaker?' The reason for this is probably to differentiate the Speaker of the House from someone who happens to be speaking. 'The Speaker recognized the speaker'.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1390 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you for the explanations.

It makes great sense in a democracy to have such kind of representation. I came to appreciate it about the system now that I've learned about it.

rob05c  ·  1391 days ago  ·  link  ·  
This comment has been deleted.
Quatrarius  ·  1391 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What those two bodies of government represent, and what is their respective responsibilities, in simple terms?

Both the House and the Senate need to vote affirmatively on legislation for it to pass. Only the House has the power to introduce bills involving revenue, and it also has the power to impeach officials with a two-thirds vote. Only the Senate can ratify treaties and confirm the appointments of federal officials that the President appoints. (Like Supreme Court Justices, which is a relevant discussion right now) The number of congressmen and elections are different between them as well: The House has 435 members elected from districts that are divided between the states by population, whereas the Senate has 100 members, 2 for every state. Senators are usually more moderate than representatives, probably because they represent more people.

    Why do only the two parties matter? Solely because they're the biggest (I hear a lot about them and barely anything, even in history, about any other)?

It's hard for any third parties to spring up because of the first-past-the-post system that is used in (as far as I know) in every election here. And you're not wrong with the "biggest" thing: the two major parties are both much bigger and more influential than any smaller parties.

    What does the partition mean for the country's political atmosphere? What's those positions', party-wise, influence on the country so far - that is, for example, how is a Democrat president different from a Republican president? Does it even matter what party they are? Does it matter if the President is an unaffiliated person, parties-wise, and why if it does?

Going to answer these questions out of order, so bear with me. There hasn't been a president elected as an independent since George Washington, so a candidate managing to do it would be essentially a first. It matters a great deal which party a president belongs to because the parties are so ideologically split: a Republican president would work to support right-wing legislation, would try to appoint right-leaning officials, and so on. A Democratic president would do the reverse. In addition, unless it passes both the House and the Senate with a very large amount of support, legislation can be vetoed by a president. This also leads into the current state of the split between Congress and the President: Congress can pass all the conservative legislation it wants, but the President can veto it whenever he wants, because the Republicans still don't have a veto-proof majority. They've been pretty much at an impasse since the last election in 2014, when the Republicans took over the Senate.

    Why do they hold the first primaries? Why is the order of the primaries as it is currently? Clearly, it's not alphabetical, and I don't have a map of the US to confirm that it's geographical.

A lot of it is tradition, and a lot of it is state law. Iowa and New Hampshire, confusingly, both have it in law to be the first primaries. Since they use two different systems in their primaries, they can both technically be "the first". But if any other state tried to make their primaries before them, they would simply move their own primaries up. The order of the rest of the states changes year by year, but typically a lot of states cluster their votes on "Super Tuesday", which is a Tuesday in either February or March.

    What about the people? What does the general population think of her? I don't know of her political agenda or promises, but so far, she gives off a vibe of a person I'd trust to run my country had I been a US citizen.

She started out with a lot of support among Democratic primary voters, but she's been losing a lot of support to Bernie Sanders. Her strength among the elite has remained secure, which is why I only mentioned that. She's pretty popular with Democrats, but she's unpopular with independents and hugely unpopular with Republicans for a lot of different reasons.

    Why do Republicans have so many presidential candidates? Is it because the last president was Democrat?

After John Mccain lost in 2008 and Mitt Romney lost in 2012, there was a huge gap in Republican presidential candidates, and everybody who thought they had a chance jumped at the opportunity. Most of them failed pretty hard already.

    Finally, is it "president" or "President" in English?

I use either one depending on when it feels right. I honestly don't know the proper capitalization.

Hope this helps.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1390 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. This has been enlightening.

jleopold  ·  1390 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm also gonna add to Quatrarius and rob05c if that's okay.

    Why do only the two parties matter? Solely because they're the biggest (I hear a lot about them and barely anything, even in history, about any other)?

Q made reference to first-past-the-post. Without proportional representation (which is used in, say, the UK I think), the goal becomes to just get as many votes as possible. To bring as many votes as possible, what in a different system would be seperate political parties compromise to form a larger party that will receive more votes. Further, because the system also benefits incumbents (in confusing ways, but just trust me that they exist), minor parties have difficulty effectively challenging the larger parties. And because they need not just some percentage, but a plurality of the vote, they simply cannot win on a federal level.

Another consequence of the system is the parties are actually rather ideologically close together. Sanders is considered rather radical, and he's just a Democratic Socialist (and a rather lean one at that). No one is arguing for new forms of government or huge fan economics changes. This isn't Hitler vs. Stalin, it's two neighbors arguing politics at a potluck.

    Why do they hold the first primaries? Why is the order of the primaries as it is currently? Clearly, it's not alphabetical, and I don't have a map of the US to confirm that it's geographical.

Q nailed this. Those states literally say they have to be first. Iowa has a caucus, which is basically having large meetings of party memebers to discuss and decide on a nominee. New Hampshire has a primary, which is just a regular old vote to choose the party's nominee. Based on their results, states send delegates to a national convention to vote for the nominees selected in the state process. Interestingly, the Democratic Party uses "superdelegates," which are party officials and leaders, like former president Bill Clinton, who can vote at the national convention. The hopes is that they can influenece the nomination process to makes sure the nominee can work in the party's system.

It is important who holds the first primaries because candidates who lose the early ones will often drop out. So, not losing in Iowa and New Hampshire becomes more important, as indicator of the full national campaign.

    What does the general population think of her?

A lot of the general populace, myself included, have the exact opposite opinion of her. I don't trust her at all, and never have, and some recent issues and scandals have not endeared her to me or many other moderates. However, as a group, we'd probably prefer her to Sanders, but I'd bet most moderates vote Republican in the general election. Unless Bloomberg runs.

    Why do Republicans have so many presidential candidates? Is it because the last president was Democrat?

Q nailed this too, but I'll add that the Republican party has been under internal tension with the rise of a further-right contingent know as the Tea Party. They actually managed to make the Speaker of the House, a Republican, step down at the end of last year.

    Finally, is it "president" or "President" in English?

rob05c exactly. President capitalized is the person, who holds the office of president.