We Need to Make Our Political Parties Great Again


Thursday, September 5, 2019

America is an extremely polarized place today. There is no debating that, but with this polarization comes the interesting fact that America’s political parties are not as effective as they should be. What American politics needs today is for the political parties to become as strong as they were decades ago. 

Here are two suggestions on reforming the party system:

  1. Shorten the Length of the Presidential Election Process

It seems as if candidates are announcing their candidacy extremely early. Way earlier than it needs to be. 

Parties should prevent all candidates from announcing and campaigning until the first of July of the year before the presidential election. This would mean that for 2024, candidates would not be able to announce or campaign for president until July 1, 2023. No campaigning and no fundraising until that day. 

Those who decide to start earlier than the July 1 date will be penalized: either they will be forced to give up a certain percentage of their raised money to their party, or they will lose delegates at the national convention. Shortening the length to July 1 still gives candidates a whole year before their party’s nominating convention, which is plenty of time to raise money, reach voters, and obtain delegates. This also allows current senators, congresspeople, and governors to have more time doing their actual jobs instead of skipping what they were elected to do to meet people in different states and being criticized for it. 

  1. Make the Nominating Conventions Always an Open Convention  

The nominating conventions today are just infomercials for their party’s nominee. There is hardly any excitement or drama that goes on. It was not always this way. 

Before 1968, some of the most important candidates were nominated at their convention: John F. Kennedy in 1960, William Howard Taft in 1912, Abraham Lincoln in 1860, etc. The conventions should be the most important part of the presidential election process. 

Here’s a new way of how conventions should work: the top four candidates going into the convention would get a certain percentage of “locked” delegates who are required to vote for that candidate. The front-runner going into the convention would receive 40% of their already-won delegates from the primaries who are locked, with up to another 40% of the other already-won delegates able to pledge their support, thus ensuring that the front-runner is still given the best shot at winning the convention since he won the primaries. The second-place candidate would receive 30% locked delegates and up to 30% other pledged delegates. The third place candidate would receive 20% locked delegates and up to 20% pledged. Fourth place would receive 10% locked delegates and 10% pledged delegates. All of the remaining delegates that are left from each candidate would be free to vote for whichever of the four remaining candidates they would like. This would go on for five ballots unless one candidate reaches the certain number of delegates required to win. After five ballots, all of the locked delegates are “released” and all of the delegates are free to vote for whomever they would like. Also, any individual is free to be nominated after the fifth ballot. The individual who receives the minimum number of delegates required to obtain the party’s nomination must also commit to the entire party platform that will have been voted on and accepted by the party before the convention even starts. 

By having the nominated candidate agree to the entire party platform, it allows the general election to be about ideas and not personalities. It also will allow for Congress to take back power from the president. 

If the president decides he wants to break with the party platform during his term, the party will be able to nominate another candidate who will actually adhere to the platform, giving incentives for the president to be limited in power and delegate lawmaking and agenda-setting to Congress. 

These are just a few ideas on how we can strengthen our political parties. The people will still be able to vote for their favorite candidate during the primaries, but the party will have the final decision at the nominating convention. 

Strengthening the parties will also help federalism in an interesting way: if the people are not happy in who the nominee is one year, they will be forced to play close attention to who gets elected as delegates to the national convention closer to home. Strengthening our parties will only help our political process, not weaken it.

Jonathan Kirk is a junior Political Science and Public Policy Leadership double major at Ole Miss. He hopes to one day have a career in politics serving his country as an elected official.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Jonathan Kirk

Jonathan Kirk is a junior Political Science and Public Policy Leadership double major at Ole Miss. He hopes to one day have a career in politics serving his country as an elected official.

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