Republican Primary Doesn’t Matter


During the Wisconsin Presidential Primary next week, Republican voters will be asked to choose between Romney, Gingrich, Ron Paul and Santorum, but their selection will make little difference in the long run, for even if their nominee prevails in November, in the final analysis, their candidate will not be able to make any change without the help of the House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

For those who “vote for the man,” because they naively believe one person can single-handedly change the way things are, they have an awful lot to learn about party politics. What matters is not an individual win, but rather a victory by an entire political party. Real and significant change in America only occurs if the same party controls the House, 60% of the Senate (to block filibusters), the White House, and at least five Supreme Court seats.

Unless voters want divided and paralyzed governments, there is no rational reason to split tickets between Republicans and Democrats, by picking one party’s nominee for this office, and another party’s choice for that. Although many voters dislike both parties, one or the other is going to win and gain control, so it makes sense to learn their differences, and vote along party lines.

No matter who the Republicans nominate for President, if the conservatives continue to control the House, they will put their agenda to their leader, (not the other way around), and he will be expected to approve of it, whether it is Romney, Santorum, Paul, or Gingrich. The Presidency is much weaker than most realize.

When Obama became President, a Democratic Congress handed him legislative measures, during his first two years, like the health care bill, and he had no choice but to approve of it. If he had not, his own party would have turned on him. Although Obama wanted to close Guantanamo, Congress pulled the purse strings for that pledge, and consequently, the prison remains open, regardless of the President’s wishes, or his campaign promises.

If Romney becomes President, and has an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, you better believe the entire Republican Party, including Bachmann, Santorum, and a whole host of right-wing fundamentalist ministers will be looking over his shoulder. One man in Washington DC simply has no power to do anything.

If you think you can change the basic two-party system, you have a boatload of work to do. The existing parties not only select nominees through caucuses and primaries, they draft platforms stating goals, but most importantly provide networks of volunteers locally to register voters, and make sure they vote on Election Day. Third-party candidates trying to operate outside one of the two major parties would find it extremely difficult to organize, without the help of the thousands who already share a party label.

While it is true George Washington, a Federalist, was first elected as an individual, Thomas Jefferson soon founded an opposition party, even though the Constitution did not mention their use, and for over 200 years, they have been an integral part of our system.

The head of political party, i.e. the President, or presidential candidate of the other party, matters far less than Congressional control. If you want to see change, the question is not who will win the upcoming Wisconsin Republican Presidential Primary; the important question is: After the 2012 election, which of the two major political parties will control the Congress?

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