Monday, March 3, 2008

Presidential primaries: the Whys and the Hows?

We’ve been asked to discuss the presidential primaries—an American born, bred (and buttered!??) in this tradition will not even question the concept but will go on to discuss the heat and dust generated by the current presidential primaries

However, as a new entrant and a keen observer of the American scenario, I wonder—why the primaries? instead of How the current one is faring!!

I would have thought a party will pick a couple of strong candidates and make them running mates to be the prospective president and vice presidential candidate if their party is elected to power(that is, no primary at all but just an internal decision to host the best man/woman for the top job!!) —but no, here strong contenders from the same party slug it out among themselves for the privilege to be the candidate for their party. Seems pretty bizarre to an outsider! I think the United states in the only country to have this system of primaries.

Robert Langley who presents a guide to US govt info declares that the purpose of primaries is manifold: to make the voters familiar with the individual candidates (rather than just as the party representative) and to present a platform for their stand on issues. Last but not the least, to generate interest and result in better voter turnout at the real elections!

( ) OK, Point taken re primary(‘s) importance!!

The president of US wields so much authority as the head of the only superpower in the world --the whole world watches with interest and trepidition as to who is going to be the all powerful figure for the next 4 years, impacting everyone with his/her decisions/nondecisions!! So what are the issues for the current presidential primaries? Gender/race statistics/new records are being bandied around as to the prospect of a African-American/or a woman president—quite trivial it seems to me to view a person in such terms and talk about who is winning the Hispanic/African-American vote!! Apart from these statistical issues, the main real issues seem to be the state of American economy and the concerns about the perceived slowing down, the taxation policies and the Iraq issue. A war costing a trillion dollars is no mean issue and what each candidate proposes to do elicits huge interest—McCain declared it will go on for hundred years and then after an outcry quickly amended that to say he meant the insurgency will go on for hundred years not the war. With his party being the one in power initiating the Iraq war for finding nonexistent WMDs (weapons of mass destruction), he does have a lot to answer for! Senator Hillary Clinton declared she’ll start withdrawing troops in a month!! Senator Obama of course went on lengthy rhetoric typical of him but I did not detect any action point. However, he seems to be on a roll and is most likely to be the Democrat’s candidate I guess!!

President Bush came out with the $4 a gallon statement as future scenario scaring the life out of all American citizens and his plans of addressing the energy crisis with research into more domestic oil with technical input for minimizing the environmental degradation. Oh, no, I groaned “why don’t you guys give a fillip for renewables like wind energy thru some decent policies”—but the primaries have not been about solid action on this front where I propose to involve myself!

I do hope these primaries manage to throw up really viable candidates for the most powerful job on earth and the ultimate lucky person goes on to address all the issues with much-needed wisdom and integrity!!

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