Prime Time Primaries

By: Nancy Salvato

I’m enjoying the prime time primaries, carefully considering what each politician brings to the table as they all campaign to participate in what policy wonks might consider the political equivalent of the National League and American League playoffs in baseball. It’s exciting and compelling observing the players moves; assessing “statistics” comprised of voting records and accomplishments; and listening to analysts determine the catalyst behind voter reactions, compare and contrast the candidates’ styles, analyze the spin, and comment on occasional heartfelt passion, as each contender competes to “go to the show,” our nation’s 2008 presidential election.

After the Democrats choose their candidate and the Republicans choose their candidate, each will compete to win the electoral votes in the 50 states. They do not win based on the popular vote; they win based on which states electoral votes they’ve earned. This is not unlike the World Series in baseball. The team that takes the series becomes the champion based on the best of seven games played, not on the number of runs cumulatively earned during the series.

Each contender canvasses the country, focusing on a variety of constituents who make up the voting blocks; single woman, black voters, Latino voters, compassionate conservatives, Hawks, Doves, religious right, etc. Each special interest group’s combined influence can make the difference between taking or losing a state. In one sense, politicians seem to cater to these factions, yet in another sense they are forced to consider their interests and promise to represent these interests if elected in office. This is our system of checks and balances at work, making sure that each person, in each group, in each state is considered on their own merit and that the electors represent the majority in their state. It is in this way, our president will represent a United States.

The number of electoral votes of each state is the sum of its number of U.S. Senators (always two) and its U.S. Representatives; the District of Columbia has three electoral votes. I learned the importance of the Electoral College by playing a game called Landslide when I was just a kid. At the end of the game, the Vote cards are meaningless; the only thing that counts is how many states you’ve won through these vote cards. It is because of this game that I understood the worth of winning such states as New York, California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas. I also learned that while you can win a state early on, it can be taken right from under you if you are not careful. Finally, this game illustrated why we have two houses of Congress; the House of Representatives is balanced by the Senate, in which each state is represented equally no matter what the size. As we watch the Candidates make their cases to the people, building a base of support for their election, while at the same time learning intimately what issues are most important to Americans, we need to take a moment and be grateful to the Founders for developing a peaceful process for changing office and for ensuring that this truly is a government by the people, of the people, and for the people. Simply look at what just took place in Pakistan with the assassination of its former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe murdering people to make sure he stays in office, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin handpicking his successor in Russia. Conservative or Liberal, who ever wins office in the upcoming election is an American who will take an oath to protect our Constitution.“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Take this opportunity to listen to the candidates and listen to how people across the United States are responding to their messages. No matter who wins, no matter what are differences, we are all Americans.

Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. She
serves as the Assistant Provost for the American College of Education and as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. She is also a staff writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, and a frequent contributing writer to The World & I educational magazine.

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