Written by Hannah and Shiran
The presidential election in the United States is held every four years. In order to become candidates for the presidency, the Constitution states that they must have lived in the United States the last 14 years and be at least 35 years old. Only native-born citizens are eligible. Any American citizen who is at least 18 years old has the right to vote.
The events that take place in an election year can be divided into four phases:
2) National conventions
There are two major parties in the USA, the Republicans and the Democrats. Each party needs to find a candidate who will run for president. Primary election is the first step in this selection process. Usually, there are several politicians who want to become their party’s candidate for presidency. The intention of this election is to let the people in each state express their support for one of these politicians. There are two types of primary elections – closed and open. The closed primaries are reserved for the most loyal party followers. In the open primaries, anyone can come and give his or her vote. A third alternative, used in some states, is the so-called caucus. Caucuses are where the party members in the state get together to discuss which politician they would like to support.
The Democrats and the Republicans have their conventions in the summer of the election year to determine who will be their party’s candidate for president. As many as 30,000 people may be present, including security guards, staff of the presidential nominees, media, and other guests. The nominees have to receive a majority of the votes at the convention, in order to be chosen as candidates for the presidential election. Finally, the chosen presidential candidate gives his or her first official speech.
The campaign starts on the first Monday in September, and lasts for eight weeks. The presidential candidates hopes to influence the voters through television interviews, visiting people all across America, participating in political debates, giving speeches, shaking hands and smiling. The headquarters in Washington coordinate the candidate’s schedules, but the candidates also have staff members working for them nationwide. Those who are able to communicate and get their message across to the voters, often do well in the election. Most Americans want somebody who knows how to lead the country. The media plays an important role in this phase. But some people claim that the economic situation, important topical issues, the personality of the candidates and their politician view all help determine who wins the election.
The Election Day is on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and is the day where the voters decide who will be the President of the United States for the next four years. The process takes time, and the new President is not inaugurated until January 20.
The history of America has been shaped by the journeys of people who have come to the nation and by those who have migrated within its boundaries. Travel has changed the lives of Americans all over the USA and influenced communities, culture and politics as well. From the first settlement of Europeans, people traditionally moved westwards. Americans today may move in all directions, but in every way Americans still seem to be ready to “move on” somewhere else in search of something else.
Over 40 million Americans move every year. It is said that this is because they are driven to own a home, pay less for housing or live in a better neighbourhood or job. The invention of Air-Conditioning has actually been an important factor, because of the increasing stream of people moving to the South and Midwest. They are always looking for something or some way to reach “The American Dream”. Many people from abroad are also trying to go “from rags to riches”, in this society where individualism is valued so highly. This has made the USA very well organized for a people who are constantly on move. But what impact has this on American elections and politics?
One aspect is of course the hunger for oil and gas to their cars, which they use frequently. With such a large number of people moving every year, this actually becomes an important factor. Another important factor is of course that the nation is so vast and with a great variation in population structure, way of life and most importantly view on life and who their lives is governed by. As people tend to move into the city, they soon adjust to the values there. A great number of people votes for the Democrats here, while people in the suburbs usually votes for the Republicans. This has on the other hand nothing to say when it comes to location in the big picture. People from the upper-middle class, mostly from “the new regions”, such as the Sunbelt and the West, tend to be Republican. People standing by the Democrats are mostly from “old” regions, Snowbelt/Rustbelt and the South usually, and are middle- to lower class workers.
When people move the population of every state will of course either sink or increase. This has a lot to say when it comes to the number of electors, which is dependent on the population of the state. This is decided every tenth year, in a census. But where people move has also a lot to say. After the war the political centre was in the North East, because of the good connections to Europe. Lately the centre of gravity moved to the South and South. With especially Republican supporters moving Southwards, the Republican will gain a larger number of electors in the South too. This can count at the end, as we all were witnesses to in the election in 2000, when Gore gained the most votes from the people, but Bush was elected by most electors and became America’s 43rd President. Did the right man in 2000?
“Let him go, fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on out soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes; it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And replaced with his own face […]
If they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences,
and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction
that we call our president, for the present,
and mosh for the future of our next generation,
to speak and be heard, Mr. President, Mr. Senator”
Eminem is not the only one who protested against President Bush before the Presidential election on 2nd of November 2004. It seemed as if “the whole world” wanted another President, but it was not for the whole world to decide, but the USA. The Republican George W. Bush Jr. had already won the election in 2000, when he was the governor of Texas. Bush was then considered weak and inexperienced, and he had a criminal record as well.
He had a strong lead on the Democratic candidate, Vice President Gore. As the campaign progressed the polls varied dramatically. The margins of victory were very narrow in a number of states. But after the accusations of rigging the election a recount, both by machine and manual, was followed by a lawsuit. Bush won after a rough debate, even though Gore got 300’000 votes more across the nation.
In 2001, George Bush set the all time record for most days on vacation by any president in the USA, In fact in his first eight months in office before September 11, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time. This date has become a landmark in American history, when terrorist attacked and destroyed New York’s World Trade Center. Over 3000 people were killed 11th of September 2001. George Bush was known as a weak and inexperienced President, especially in foreign policy, and maid some poor choices in the time after the attacks. He declared war against terror and in October 2001 he bombed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The regime broke down and prisoners were transported to an American base on Cuba. Bush denied that these were war prisoners.
Bush also did wrong in constructing a simplified picture of the world when he in 2002 declared that the USA reserved the right to attack the states Iraq, Iran and North – Korea, which he appointed the world’s “axis of evil”. The worst lie after the attacks what so ever was the fact that EPA told the citizens of New York that the air quality was fine, and that it was safe to work and live near Ground Zero. What really lied beneath was The White House’s pressure upon EPA to say this. The poor air quality has proved that people may get serious injuries in the future, possibly birth defects or increased cancer rates.
George Bush has made some poor choices, and has often said things that are rather radically. Among them are statements like: “Those who go to war against the USA, have chosen to get destroyed themselves”. Another thing is the fact that he never mentions UN in his speeches; this shows the USA’s position as the world’s “superpower”. That is among other an important fact, because what USA decides to do, what Bush decides to do, can easily involve and affect us. Bush should most certainly not have won in 2000, I think many things would have been different with Gore as President, but that we will never know. I was hoping that the people had realized what a dictator Bush had become before the 2004 election, but the American people went for four more years. I really don’t get it. I guess it goes by the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I have great belief, and hope in, that the American citizens will change their minds before the election in 2008. The Midterm elections this year will anyhow show hints of what the future will bring.
Midterm election is an election for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives that occurs two years into the four-year presidential term of office. The Senate has 100 representatives and the House of Representatives has 435 representatives. The majority of the representatives are republicans. It is therefore easier for President Bush to gain power as President. Bush have always, during the elections, removed the focus away from himself and placed it on his opponent. He used this tactic during the presidential election in 2004 (Bush vs. John Kerry) and the midterm election in 2002. During the midterm election in 2002 he used 9/11 images to hammer away at Democrats. The Democrats were unwilling to agree with the Republicans call for another war in Iraq. Many think that this tactic will not help Bush in the 2006 midterm election, much because of the continuing violence in Iraq, and lack of domestic accomplishments. If we assume that the Republicans are going to have a very bad election year in 2006, the odds are still quite high that they will maintain a majority in the Senate. The same thing goes for the House of Representatives, where there are a total of 28 seats are competitive - 10 are held by the Democrats and 18 are held by the Republicans.