Who decides?

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Who decides Photo Brian Chicoine files


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The Long Shot

Last week I was reading about how a former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, is running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. Within the article were the words “long shot.” So I started thinking about why he was labeled as a long shot. Shouldn’t he have as good of a chance as any to become president of these United States? So I thought a little more and came to the rather sad realization that no, not everybody has a real shot at serving in the highest office of our land. This is something that I’ve seen but denied to myself for many years, but the fact is that making it through the primaries to become one of the “top two” is not something that anyone can achieve. This is unfortunate and not what was envisioned by our founding fathers. 

Money and Fundraising

So what does it truly take to become president? Well, name recognition helps, but beyond that it takes lots of money. Now I am not one to say that all money needs to be removed from politics, but do understand the concerns of many in that fundraising requires many things. Sometimes fundraising requires things such as promises of special access when it comes to, say advocating for a bill. The thought process is that the president will listen more to those who have “special access.” 

The key to many presidential campaigns is to make it to “Super Tuesday.” Making it in many cases depends on how well the candidate does in the Iowa caucus and the primaries of New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The better the candidate “places,” the more money that comes in because they are seen as a “serious” contender. Candidates who have little money cannot afford the tremendous cost of staff as well as travel, and lodging – and because the candidate cannot physically hit every district – media buys. This is especially true in bigger states. Here in New Hampshire, we enjoy our “retail politics” and the incredible access that we get to the candidates, but we are small enough of a state to have that. This is not true in larger states like New York, Illinois, Texas, or California. Candidates become especially dependent on media buys during times when multiple states vote, such as Super Tuesday when around a dozen states cast their ballots. So a person running for president may have really good ideas, but cannot get them out there because they don’t have money. 

Wanted people to run Bring money 1
Wanted – people to run: Bring money.

Deciding who we hear 

The next thing that can make or break a presidential candidate, in my opinion, are debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates decides what and who we hear on the debate stage. As of the 2020 election cycle, one of the criteria for a candidate to receive a debate invite was that they have a level of support of at least 15% of the national electorate, as determined by five national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.” So basically it is dependent on pollsters, who sometimes have questionable accuracy, to determine who we the voter gets to hear in any given debate. My questions are who is being polled, and are those being polled going to choose a candidate that they don’t know about? 

The voting public not being allowed to see all the candidates became quite an issue back in 2016 when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were not allowed in the debates, which left Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It is interesting to note that Trump and Clinton represent the two major parties while Johnson and Stein were of alternative / “third” parties. I particularly find it interesting considering my feelings about our two-party system. In my view, may the best candidate win based on the choice of the people, not the party. 

Only selected candidates invited to debates. Photo Brian Chicoine file 1
Only selected candidates are invited to debates. Photo/Brian Chicoine

Manchester’s Solution 

I am glad that at least on the local level, Manchester has what is known as a “nonpartisan election.” None of the candidates is identified by their party and the winners are determined purely by the number of votes, and every candidate can be heard if they do the work. 

Conclusion

I love our Representative Democracy, but believe that more needs to be done so that we can hear the ideas from all the candidates. The voters should be able to make their decisions based on all the facts, not just the ones that parties and commissions think that we should know about. Electing our officials is great, but there has to be a better way. 

Got ideas? Shoot me an email at bchicoinemht@gmail.com


 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

About this Author

Brian Chicoine

Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980. While a student at Notre Dame College here in Manchester, Brian transferred to Rhode Island College in Providence, where he met his now wife, Jackie. Brian and Jackie spent the next 20 years living in Providence and Manchester, returning to Manchester with their two sons, (who are proud Manchester natives), in the fall of 2017. He and his family intend on staying in Manchester and are committed to helping make it an even better place to live, work, and play.