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Resolved: The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to democratic values

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Background and Context of Debate

The debate over whether or not the current system of presidential primaries are democratic or not. Both sides will have to incorporate at least some of the democratic values such as truth, equality, diversity, Pursuit for Happiness, and patriotism. These are just a few of the many values that exist within a democracy.

Are the presidential primaries undemocratic?


  • The presidential primararies contradict the democratic value of liberty. With the current system of primaries people are confused upon their decision. Thus, quickly forcing upon them a choice they may not agree with. By using presidential primaries, you eliminate many different candidates for a presidential election. Therefore manipulating voters into voting for a candidate they wouldn't normally vote for, therefore reducing the say the people have, the largest democratic value. This also takes away from our country because during the primary season, candidates tend to slander one another, dividing a country that was once unified. In this 2008 presidential election, it is also evident because Hillary Clinton became the victim. Not only is political freedom taken away, but a choice of candidates as well. They force people into a very narrow scope of candidates in which you can only choose one or the other. The popularity of a candidate swings, and it's unfair to kick someone out early just because there's someone ahead of them months before the actual election.
  • The current US system of presidential primaries also run contrary to the democratic value of patriotism. We are to be patriotic and have reverence for our country. Unfortunately, the US system of presidential primaries takes away our pride, respect, and love that have developed over time. We can no longer be patriotic and share those same ideas because of the embarrassment that the primaries cost us as a country. Abraham Lincoln once stated "A house dived cannot stand." Unfortunately, the US primaries cause us to go against ourselves as a nation making our country unstable and not able to stand alone.
  • The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to the democratic value of diversity. Many states, such as Indiana, require you to vote in the same party as you did for the primaries. That restricts your individuality. What if you wanted to vote Democrat when you voted Republican during the primaries? In addition, studies have confirmed that the "New Hampshire effect" translates to a shift in focus to the early primaries. In this way most states schedule their primary dates very early crowding the calendar. This allows for less time for voters to observe and evaluate their candidates and also skews the process towards the earliest dates.
  • The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to the democratic value of equality. Super delegates, or winner take all makes some votes 'wasted' because their voices or votes are not paid attention to. Not only that but, many states presidential primaries are disproportionate. This being this case, it not only makes it contrary to democratic values, but it makes the whole system a failure. It is meant to determine the presidential candidates fairly which it does not accomplish successfully. Aristotle once stated, “If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” This is an example of how the US presidential primaries lack equality. The first states that vote have an unequal influence on who gets the nomination. Those two states are New Hampshire and Iowa - two very unrepresentative states. Both have no major cities, and very few minorities, so urban and minority issues are not spoken of in the election, because the tone is set by those two states. In addition, presidential primaries don’t give the smaller political parties any power whatsoever. Many people do not know this, but there are more than the two predominant political parties, Republicans and Democrats. There is also the green party, liberty party, and a communist party. Yet, there debates are not broadcasted on nationwide television hence; they are not paid attention to. Moreover, in many elections, the choice is made before most people vote, because, coming out of those early states, there is a front runner with so much attention and money that that person is the presumptive front runner and other candidates drop out.
  • The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to democratic value of common good. Many states lack any meaningful representation in the primary system. Most eligible voters or voters that will vote on Election Day in November do not participate during the primaries. Therefore, it is unnecessary to waste those voters that involve themselves in the presidential primaries time. Moreover, the media and money have too much influence on the primary voters. The more time between the primaries creates more time for manipulation. Primaries are not to elect a president; but simply to avail in deciding who will get the party's endorsement.


  • The US system of presidential primaries creates a more significant public forum for developed debate over an extended period of time and brings to light issues that are particularly relevant in certain parts of the country. In addition, it lets citizens be involved in the process of choosing who they want to lead our grand nation.Primaries are run by political parties and the parties have the right to assemble as they deem important. It would be fundamentally undemocratic to revoke this right. It gives the political parties a chance to unify.
  • Primaries provide citizens with more insight into candidates before the final decision for President. Voters can compare a number of similar candidates (all Democrats, all Republicans) before considering different candidates. Ideally, primaries allow voters to pick better (or best) candidates than going to some sort of general election without primaries. This is also is not contrary to democratic values because they want information.
  • Presidential primaries correspond with the democratic value of common good. They help to narrow down the wide variety of future presidents. This saves voters the amount of time that would be invested in finding the best future president. It features the serious contenders, saving other candidates time, money, and dignity.Primaries provide access to presidential candidates without requiring the types of funds needed for a national campaign for president. Someone with less funds can start by going for (and convincing) the voters of, say, New Hampshire. Success on a small, local level can lead to more and more support (i.e. money from contributors). Thus, primaries open the Presidential opportunity to more people. (Compare this to an election for Senate where there is no primary system -- only those who can raise enough money ahead of time can actually run for office.)

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