I preface my comments by saying that I’m have very limited knowledge of the electoral system in the United States. I used to know more as I took Political Science as a university class and one of the chapters looked at the differences between Canada and the U.S. I know I learned it well enough to write the exam and then, like so much of the information I learned, I promptly had a memory dump and moved onto another class.
What I do know is this. In Canada, the party faithful (delegates) elect a leader at a convention. He or she then runs for election in one of the ridings across the country. In general, if he or she wins that seat in the House of Commons AND the party wins the majority* of the seats across the country then by default, he or she becomes the Prime Minister of Canada. Thus we, as regular citizens of the country, have little or nothing to do with the determination of who will be our most senior government official.
In the States, the process is radically different. From Wikipedia, I’ve learned that all registered voters cast ballots for a group of “Electors”. These electors then cast direct ballots to election the President and Vice President of the United States. Again, majority rules, and where a clear majority is not received there are alternative methods for selecting a President and V.P. via the House of Representatives and the Senate.
What this suggests to me is that the President and V.P. elected could, in fact, be representatives of a party that does not hold the majority of the seats in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. That brings me to my question – how much power does the President actually hold? I vaguely recall there is such a thing as veto power, but what if that individual wants certain legislation to be enacted? Does he/she have the power to enact legislation without the concurrence of the House or Senate?
As an outsider looking in, the whole process seems convoluted and rather dizzying to contemplate. Add in a bombastic former bankrupt millionaire reality star, a former First Lady and Secretary of State with a penchant for controversy, and the whole process has become a three-ring circus. With another convention underway this week and more than three months until Election Day I have to wonder what else might happen. Now this is reality television!
I’ll readily admit at this point I’m glad I’m Canadian even if I don’t get a say on who leads our country.
In the meantime I’ll be watching the goings on in the States with some interest and trepidation.
*We currently have five parties (Liberal, Conservatives, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party) whose members run for election. The party that wins the most seats may end up in with a minority government and will run the government only as long as the other parties will permit. Often the government will fall to a non-confidence vote and off we head to the polls again.