In case you didn’t know (or aren’t American or don’t follow American politics), it’s an election year. I think it’s a pretty important one too.
I don’t have a gut feeling yet as to which way the election will go although my hope is usually for a conservative candidate to take office. However, there are a couple of hoops to jump through before we even start thinking about that. Namely, the Republican primaries.
This is where my head swirls a little. Just when we start to learn all about the eighteen candidates, some of them start jumping ship.
Oh yes. There were eighteen people who officially declared themselves 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates: two women and sixteen men.
I have to admit that I usually wait until a little later in the election year to really start thinking about the candidate I’m backing. Or I wait for my husband to tell me who to vote for. (Relax. I’m totally kidding. I tell HIM who to vote for.)
But this year, I’m a little more concerned. We’ve had two primaries (okay, technically a caucus and a primary) and before you know it, South Carolina’s big day will be here. Already, they’re dropping like flies. Five candidates have officially withdrawn from the race (the high profile ones being Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann).
What’s my concern? That anyone I might want the opportunity to learn more about will drop out of the race before I even have a chance to vote.
There are 35 states ahead of mine this year. North Carolina doesn’t hold it’s primaries until May 8th.
I have to wait until May 8th to cast my vote.
And you know what usually happens? The candidate has pretty much already been decided and my trip to the polls is merely a formality. I don’t like it. I don’t want it that way.
So I decided to do a little internet research to see if I could learn a little more beyond my 9th grade knowledge of Civics. I have to admit, I’ve always lived in a primary state so I really had no idea what a caucus was. And I didn’t really understand why we cared so much about what Iowa and New Hampshire thought. Then I found this neat little video that helped explain it.
Did you watch it? I mean, I know it’s 5 minutes and it’s about politics but trust me, I bet you’ll learn something. I learned lots but I still didn’t know why exactly the results from the early states can be so decisive in candidate selection. So I went to my favorite encyclopedia, Google, and I looked it up.
The only problem with Google is that you have to know the right question to ask in order to get your answer.
“Why is the Iowa caucus so important?”
“What’s the difference between a caucus and a primary?”
“Why do early primaries matter?”
There’s no definitive answer. Just a few points worth making…
- The Iowa caucus is especially important because it’s the first official indication of where candidate support lies.
- Because these states (i.e., Iowa and New Hampshire) are small, campaigning takes place on a much more personal scale.
- No candidate who finished lower than third in the Iowa caucus has ever gone on to win the nomination.
- The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have previously garnered over half the national and international media attention paid to the entire selection process.
- These states are not representative of the United States as a whole: they are overwhelmingly white, more rural, and wealthier than the national average.
But what I really found out is that there is no reason that my vote shouldn’t be important. There is no reason why my vote on May 8th shouldn’t count as much as others. The biggest issue is the coverage and influence of the media.
So here’s my plea. If you live in one of the 35 states that has a shot at this before me, vote your conscience not just what the evening news says. And if you’re conscience isn’t clear, read about the candidates for yourself.
At the very least, you’ll learn who Matt Snyder is. (Sorry, Matt. You’re not getting my vote.)
While we’re talking politics, if you’ve been living under a rock like I do most of the time, you might be wondering why you can see my site but other sites are blacked out. These sites are protesting the proposed SOPA legislation. I, too, think it’s a really, really bad idea and encourage you to read more and take action. I just wanted to exercise my freedom on the internet today because I can!