When Paul Ryan was named as the Vice-Presidential nominee by Republican Mitt Romney, I was asked about his impact on the Presidential race. I said many times that the Ryan pick would finally energize the conservative base of the Republican Party who were skeptical of their nominee in Ryan. Ryan’s youthful enthusiasm coupled with his wonkish policy appeal was just what the Romney campaign needed. The bland Romney campaign searched for its voice throughout the primary season and through the early stages of the general campaign. Ryan would be that shot in the arm. For a short time, the Ryan pick did help pull even with President Barack Obama in the polls. That momentum seems to have been lost in the last week, as recent reports from the Romney front have stated that Ryan has been muzzled by his Romney’s staffers. Romney’s team wants Ryan to speak less on his “bread and butter” topic, the budget, and more on how badly Obama has run the country. Conservative pundits and grassroots supporters wonder why this is so? Without Ryan’s budget appeal, the Romney campaign was back to where it started, in search of a voice.
How much of a factor should a Vice Presidential pick be for a Presidential ticket? What criteria would you look for when choosing a VP nominee?
You might be thinking, “There’s not a dime’s worth of a difference between the Republican and Democrat parties.” However, there has to be some sort of difference between the two, otherwise, you would have one political party instead of two competing parties. Where do you think the biggest difference arises between the two?
A political party, loosely defined, is an organization that works to get candidates on a ballot with the hope of getting those candidates elected. The end result for a political party is to transform its platform or agenda into public policy. In the United States, we have a two-party system. In a two-party system, the candidates from one of two political parties usually win in an election. Those two parties are the Democrats and the Republicans. Within each political party, party members represent a variety of ideologies, geographic regions, or interests.
Let’s assume for a moment, though, that a political party is like a party that is thrown at someone’s house. You have been invited to one of the two political “parties”. One house is a Democratic house. The other is a Republican house. Choose one of the two “house parties” and then explain what you might see at the party if you attended it. For instance, if I attended a Democratic house party, then I might see a Union boss open the door for me. At the party itself, the attendees might be more female than male or more minority than white. I might I make this assumption because the Democratic Party gets its support from unions, women, and minorities.
Are the two major political parties in the United States currently realigning themselves? Realignment or a realigning/critical election, has been defined by Walter Dean Burnham, as an event that occurs every 30-36 years. When realignment does occur, the political parties tend to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant. They do this by adjusting their political party platforms while the country or the political electorate changes. Sometimes, however, it is the critical election that adjusts the way the voting behaves. For the most part, political scientists agree that the United States has had five party systems. The first party system somewhere between the creation of American political parties to the time of Democratic-Republican Party dominance (1789-1828). The second party system occurred during the height of the Democratic Party strength and the somewhat competitive Whig Party (1828-1860). The third party system took place with the emergence of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln and lasted until the late 1890s (1860-1896). In fourth party system, the parties aligned themselves based on the economy, as Democrats became the party of unions and an agrarian mindset, while the Republicans captured big business and industry within their ranks (1896-1932). With the fifth party system, the Democrats took on the role of supporting the New Deal, while the Republicans opposed the FDR platform. From the time of the New Deal, Democrats have supported public policy solutions created by the federal government. Republicans supported solutions initiated by state governments. This party system has lasted since 1932 (1932-Present). The two major parties have continued to promote their party platforms from a federal vs. state government angle.
Did you know that there is something called, “The Commission on Presidential Debates”? Did you also know that this Commission determines which Presidential candidates get to debate each other before the general election. More over, the Commission on Presidential Debates has a criterion that has excluded third party candidates from the debates since Ross Perot was invited in 1992. In order to be invited to a Presidential debate, a candidate must have a composite average of 15% of popular support from nationally administered polls. One problem with the requirement is that most national polling companies do not include any third party candidates as a choice in their polls. Another problem is how subjective the 15% requirement is. Why not 5% as a requirement? How about 1%? What about ballot access requirements as a criterion? If you are not included in a poll as a choice, then how can a candidate receive any show of public support, let alone 15%?
What are your thoughts?