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*Images of candidates are courtesy of: Hillary Clinton photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore; Donald Trump NH Town Hall photo at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH courtesy of Michael Vadon; Gary Johnson photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.




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Election Countdown is keeping track of how many days are left until the 2016 presidential election. This election only occurs every four years and will include voting for all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives, 34 of the 100 U.S. Senators, and 12 of the 50 State Governors.

On November 8th, 2016, the citizens of the Unites States will make the collective decision on which direction to take the country. Will the United States follow England or will the U.S. carve out its' own future? In either case, the eve of the election is counting down quickly. Please check back regularly so you don't miss the countdown to one of our most critical elections ever.


     
 "The Deciders"
     
By: Richard A. Pundt

Gravitating to Extinction:

Much like the adopted symbol of the Republican Party, the moderate Republican is on the verge of extinction. The elephant, once considered highly intelligent, self-aware, and believed to be capable of great empathy, may no longer be an appropriate symbol for today's Republican Party. Instead of those precepts, today's Republican candidates (especially for national office) verbally embrace and espouse bigotry, self-centered interest, and hatred. Moderate thinking individuals who considered themselves Republicans in basic philosophy, while also believing themselves to be intelligent, self-aware, and empathetic to others, are being driven from the ranks of the Republican Party. It would appear that a philosophy of moderation is no longer welcome in the Republican Party. In fact, a few years ago a Republican candidate for president, still a candidate for president, boldly stated that there was no room for 'moderates' in the Republican Party. Over the past couple of decades that has been true.

In the year 2013, the African elephant sadly experienced the loss of 35,000 of its kind to poachers. It cannot be said that the loss of moderates from the Republican Party was due to poachers, unless one were to accuse the lunatic fringe as Party poachers. Let's not do that. But it may be fairly said that such Party losses have been due to the capture of the Republican Party by those with limited philosophies. While the Republican Party is being held hostage by those with intellectual limitations, it has lost significant numbers in terms of registered voters in Iowa (in 2014/15 the registrations of Republicans in Iowa have dropped to 663,177 - see Iowa Secretary of State Statistics). Since there are 2,400,000 adults of voting age in Iowa with 2,132,143 individuals registered to vote, Republican registered voters represent barely ¼ of the eligible voters in Iowa. Nationwide the numbers are similarly disappointing. There are roughly 218,595,000 individuals eligible to vote in the United States with 146,311,000 registered voters (See: Statistical Brain Research Institute); and according to Pew Research, only 23% of the registered voters in the U.S. are Republican, while 32% are Democrats and 39% are registered as Independents.


As noted above, the loss to the ranks of registered Republicans has not been due to poachers but to philosophical extremism. Based upon current trends, some studies have projected that the African elephant may be extinct by 2020. In the case of the Republican Party, the point of extinction will likely take longer than five years; however, if the belligerence of the current base of the Republican Party continues, especially by purposely excluding moderate thinking individuals, the extinction is coming - it will just be a bit longer than five years. There is a reason that the number of independent voters in Iowa have grown to 807,088 (2014/15 statistics from the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State).

While Iowa leads the nation in providing the first stage of scrutiny for national candidates of a political party through its precinct caucuses, both the average voter and the average registered Republican are left out of the selection process. For example, in 2012, there were between 614,913 - 664,945 registered Republicans in Iowa (depending upon the source considered); however, only 121,503 of those voters turned out for the precinct caucuses in order to provide a measure of which Republican candidate for president was favored. These 121,503 individuals represent just over 19% of the 614,913 figure and barely 18% of the 664,945 figure of registered Republicans in Iowa. Of the 2,400,000 adults of voting age in Iowa, those 121,503 individuals, who attended the Republican caucuses in 2012, represented just 5% of Iowa citizens of voting age. Therefore, a mere 5% of the 2,400,000 adults of voting age in Iowa became the spokespersons for the entire Republican Party relative to the preferred choice of a Republican candidate for President of the United States.


If one were to contemplate the impact of the Iowa caucuses on the national plain of politics that has 218,595,000 individuals eligible to vote, those 121,503 Iowa Republicans, representing .0556 of 1% percent (121,503 ÷ 218,595,000) of the eligible national voters, tell the nation who the Republican choice for President of the United State should be. With this factor (considerably less than one tenth of 1%) in mind, it is quite easy to understand how a fringe group, whether religious, philosophical, or ego-centric, can control the Republican side of the electoral process in Iowa and accordingly, inform the nation who should be the Republican candidate for President. Is this an acceptable practice or is it simply an accepted practice? Should it continue to be such?



Stubborn Dissolution:


Like their Republican counterparts, the Democratic caucus goers are reflective of their Party symbol. The donkey (Democratic Party symbol), considered a domesticated member of the equine family, also found its origin in Africa and, while some of the species are considered to be endangered, most often the species is considered to have a notorious reputation for stubbornness which has been attributed to a strong sense of self-preservation. It is perhaps that quality, more than any other, that could be credited to the fact that the political party operatives of the Democratic Party insist that in order to have a 'voice' in the selection process of a candidate for public office, a party member must 'pay their dues' and work within party ranks before being considered worthy of serving as a candidate or trusted party member. That might be considered a bit stubborn.


Some cognitive studies have been done on the donkey and those studies indicate that the donkey is 'intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn.' However, like the Republicans of today, it is becoming more and more difficult to match such attributes to the Democratic caucus going citizen - particularly the 'eagerness to learn' part. Today's Democrats seem to have some difficulty in learning from their mistakes. Perhaps that is why the stubbornness remains as a peculiarity. The propensity of the Democratic Party leaders to remain focused on past party traditions, particularly the practice of closed door decisions by the Central Committee membership and/or actions by the 'good old boys and girls' at the country club/kitchen table, remains alive and well. Under the Party's unspoken rules, both new ideas and new people must work their way through the process. The dues of time and connections must be paid. Could that be the reason that Democratic candidates for political office often seem like the same 'stale' people that have been around too long?

Although the number of donkeys world-wide is continuing to grow, that cannot be said of the number of registered Democrats in either the State of Iowa or in the nation. According to a May 2015 issue of the Des Moines Register, the number of registered Democrats in Iowa has dropped in 2015 to 585,178 from a total of 645,899 registered in 2011. That is a loss of roughly 60,000 voters, a decline of 9.4%. During that same period of time, the number of non-party voters increased to 703,208.

What about attendance at the Democratic caucus? In 2008 a total of 239,000 Democrats showed up for the presidential caucus in Iowa (George Washington University at: http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2008/chrniowa08.html). Using the 645,899 registered Democrats of 2011 as a measure, the attendees in the 2008 caucus of 239,000 would represent 37% of the registered Democrats who were in a position to select a presidential candidate. Of the total voter eligible population in Iowa of 2,400,000, the 239,000 attendees at the Democratic caucus represented just fewer than 10% of the state's population. Those were the people who were able to impact the Democratic Party's selection for President of the United States. As noted in the above section of this article that relates to the Republicans, there are 218,595,000 individuals eligible to vote in the United States. Therefore, the 239,000 Democratic attendees of the noted Iowa Democratic caucus, roughly .109 of 1% percent (239,000 ÷ 218,595,000) of the eligible national voters, tell the nation who the Democratic choice for President of the United States should be.



Working the System:


Additionally, it would appear as though the Iowa caucus system, coupled with the welcoming of large money interest for campaign spending in Iowa (with particular indebtedness to the Citizen's United case), has become totally skewed to the limited philosophical wills of those with little appeal to the average voter. Working the system by those with access to large funds and by those with unique philosophical interests is reflective of how the selection process of candidates by both parties takes place in Iowa. Therefore, it is no wonder that a shipload of candidates finds their way into the Republican forum and debates. After listening to those debates and the idea of two rounds, or tables, including what has been termed the �kid�s table,� it is readily apparent that all of the Republican candidates should sit with bibs at the �kid�s table� where they can yell and scream as they set forth meaningless, senseless, and outrageous statement positions. The Democratic side is no better, especially when the Democratic hierarchy of party bosses set down debate limitations that favor specific candidates over others. That doesn�t seem to be very democratic of the Democrats.

Since both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party require party membership for caucus going voters, an individual must be a party member in order to select that party�s presidential candidate. Consequently, the independent voter, regardless of being a former Democrat or former Republican or simply independent minded, has no choice in the process when the Iowa caucus system of selecting a presidential candidate is considered. It is no wonder as to why groups of limited interest and/or little, if any, appeal to the public in general find it cleverly convenient to use either the Republican Party of Iowa or the Democratic Party of Iowa as a political power base.


Should the process of limited political party control in Iowa, as voiced through the Iowa caucuses, be the continued methodology for selecting a candidate for President of the United States? Is the primary system a better method, and if so, should a primary system be open to the entire voting populous? Do completely open primaries or even closed party primary practices, over a caucus system, provide a fairer approach? Finally, should a caucus system as used in Iowa really be first?

Maybe it is not the political parties or the caucus system but the lack of talent. Perhaps I�m wrong but where are the Abe Lincolns, the George Washingtons or the Dwight Eisenhowers? And, where are the Adams, the Jeffersons, the Madisons, the Monroes, the Roosevelts (both parties) or the Trumans? Is it that kind of talent that we are missing? Or for a candidate who does not have limited brain capacity or too much money to promote a misdirected campaign?


{NOTE: Mr. Pundt is a former political activist and Republican Party office holder. He has been actively involved in various campaigns for presidential, senatorial, congressional, and local office candidates.}

 

How it Works.

Democrats and Republicans participate with their own party members to decide their presidential preferences for the election. The Democratic party was the first party to initiate the Caucus procedure. The Republican party followed with a Straw Poll.  For a step-by-step guide to the Caucuses and Primaries, please see: http://www.iowacaucus.biz/IA_Caucus_Howitworks.html.


Choosing a Party.

How will you vote?  Democratic?  Republican?  Third Party?  Or will you vote as an Independent and choose candidates based on their political platform, regardless of party affiliation?  When it comes time to vote, most of us have chosen a candidate from one of the two primary parties, Democratic or Republican, and usually vote for the same party for each office, even if we don't vote a straight ticket ballot.  But what about the lesser-known third parties?  It might surprise you to know that there are nearly fifty recognized political parties sponsoring candidates for office.  Which candidate best reflects your views? Please see:  http://www.electioncountdown.us/parties.htm.

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