Posted by Adam @ 12:40 pm on November 9th 2007

The US for limeys, Part 8: Politics — The Presidential Nominations Process

After some delays, the next exciting installment in the Limey Guide to America is upon us, nay, crashing over us like a foaming wave of bitter mediocrity, in which regard it is appropriate that today’s topic is ‘Presidential Nominations’.

The business of nominating a party candidate for President is a serious one: in a very real sense, the candidate put forward represents the party to the nation and to the world. The task, then, is to take a large potential pool of well-qualified candidates and narrow them down until only the worst candidates are left, before letting them run loose about much of the country raising money like a cross between demented snake-oil salesmen and the street urchins from ‘Oliver Twist’. This money is then used to do important stuff, like raise more money, and to persuade the party’s voters (and unaffiliated ‘independents’, in some states) to vote for them. This process can be easily distinguished from buying votes, because when a vote is bought, that voter receives something of value in return; in this case, the voter only gets the crushing disappointment of seeing their candidate beaten or else the crushing shame of realising that their candidate is a no-good scumbag whose victory will ring long through the Halls of Infamy and echo eternally through the bottomless Dungeons of Disaster*.

Some people might see the business of partisan pandering aimed at winning a party nomination as getting into the Belly of the Beast. Others might prefer to describe it as a sausage machine, where one doesn’t want to know what’s going on inside but just wants to enjoy the results. In fact, it’s both: it is like passing ingredients through the belly of a beast, and calling the output ‘sausages’. Enjoying the results is a specialised skill.

Each state has its own nomination process, which takes place at a date decided by the state party. Or the state government. Or the state government or state party in defiance of the national party. Because each state hates to pick a loser, the first few states get to pick and the rest of them copy their picks, unless one of the candidates is from one of those later states, in which case their own state will vote for them in much the same way that the fat kid who is scorer for the school cricket team gets to wear cricket whites to maintain the fiction of participation even though Satan will be executing a string of flawless triple lutzes across the gleaming Infernal Icefields to the amazement of assembled squadrons of airborne hogs before he ever gets to actually play in a game.

Those all-important early-nominating states are states like New Hampshire and Iowa, whose population is too small to mean anything in electoral politics if they weren’t, in fact, the early voting states in the nominations process. One might be worried, then, that the nominees are picked by untypical states with small populations that might be unrepresentative of the nation as a whole. The national Democrat party, mindful of these concerns, has moved some other states forward, such as Nevada: who better, after all, to cast a discerning eye over a group of desperate chancers, moral degenerates and ethical prostitutes than the inhabitants of the state with most experience of their common-or-garden counterparts?

Traditionally, the role of the big, rich states such as New York, Florida, California and Texas in the nominations process has been to gift candidates with pots of cash to use in the critical task of getting their pandering to the unique interests of the inhabitants of states such as Iowa and New Hampshire onto television and radio advertisements. This time, though, the inhabitants of Florida have tired of playing the role of kindly but ignored geriatrics sending cash to ingrates in the desperate hope of a kind word, of which they get enough with their own families, and have decided to move their nomination process forward. The Democrats, aghast at the idea that a state of electoral importance might have a hand in selecting the candidate that then has to go forward and do well in the states of electoral importance, have promised to ignore them, no matter what they say, by covering their ears and shouting ‘la la la’. The Republicans, taking the high road, have promised to only cover one ear.

The business of picking the best candidate can be likened to wandering blindfold through a field of piñata trying to find the one that isn’t full of liquid sewerage whilst desperately hoping against experience that they aren’t all filled with liquid sewerage. It is a testament to the determination and optimism of Americans that they nevertheless continue, election after election, with the Sisyphean task of selecting a good Presidential candidate from amongst a quadrenniel field of the most odious hacks that American politics has to offer. If there’s one thing that every party voters knows, however, it’s that if your basement is going to get flooded with sewerage, better that it’s your own.

The successful candidate has to balance pandering to voters in the early states against pandering to the donors in later states against pandering to the popular leaders of the whackjob fringes of their own party membership whilst appropriating as many core party policy positions as possible and slyly insulting, leaking against and undercutting their nomination opponents. Having performed a feat equivalent to turning water into water that tastes like plastic and costs 10 times as much and yet still selling it (The miracle of Jesus at the Wedding of Aquafina and Dasani, John 11:35) the victorious candidate then has to set about making the rest of the country forget everything they have said so that they can sell new panders to the unaffiliated voters in the political middle whilst raising pots of cash from loyal party hacks to help them do it. That story, called ‘The US Presidential Election’, will be the subject of a future Limey Guide.

*The Halls of Infamy is an adventure for parties of 4-6 characters of levels 6-8; the Dungeons of Disaster is an open-ended adventure intended to take a party of 4 characters from level 1 right through to the eventual, belated realisation that they’ll never know the loving touch of a woman, via the understanding that they can sit on their hand all they like, but it’s still attached to a man.


  1. Adam, I haven’t laughed this hard in weeks. What a treat!

    Comment by RoTalMomska — 11/9/2007 @ 8:00 pm

  2. I agree. Adam tells it like it is.

    Comment by James — 11/9/2007 @ 9:36 pm

  3. Possibly the best work ever by James and Adam, and both on the same day. I’m so proud of them.

    Now if Brad can only write something half-decent, this blog might become a team endeavor, as opposed to a continual effort by yours truly to piggyback these parasites to prominence.

    Comment by Rojas — 11/9/2007 @ 11:53 pm

  4. Let’s not forget who’s tallest here, little man.

    Comment by Adam — 11/10/2007 @ 12:17 am

  5. This underscores the drastic need for a better voting method in the nomination process. The parties have got to find a way to adopt Range Voting for that, or at least Approval Voting.

    Comment by weltschmerz — 11/10/2007 @ 2:28 am

  6. Is there a post that doesn’t indicate the need for range voting?

    Comment by Adam — 11/10/2007 @ 6:19 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.