During a lecture titled “Un- derstanding the Primary Elec- tion,” Dr. Tom Knecht and Stanton Anderson spoke about the role of primaries in our nation’s elections. For some quick background, primaries are elections that allow voters to choose their party’s candi- date in the general election. For example, in 2016, Don- ald Trump won the primary for the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton won the pri- mary in the Democratic Par- ty, which is why the general election featured the two can-didates facing off one another.
Through the lecture, Knecht and Anderson gave some background on the history of primaries, then debated the merits of the primary process. Knecht argued that primaries
should be done away with. One of his biggest points was that primaries cause party po- larization. Party polarization is the concept that candidatestend to be from different ex- tremes because Republicans prefer clearly Republican candidates and Democrats prefer clearly Democratic candidates. This splits the US populace as there is a theory in political science called median voter theorem, which states that the average voter will vote for a candidate whose ideology is closer to a mix of Republican and Democrat.
Anderson argued that the primary system should not be done away with. His big- gest point was that the pri- mary process is at its essence a democratic system. Without primaries, people wouldn’t watch debates and learn about the issues. He also considers
that if the primary process is done away with, there is no reliable way to replace it.
Westmont students are split when it comes to paying atten- tion to primaries in general. Communications major Paige Johnson has kept up with the Democratic primary because she considers herself a Demo- crat. “I like Pete Buttigieg be- cause out of all the Democrats, he is the most promising when it comes to stopping political polarization.” Political science major Ebun Kalejaiye simply loves learning about politics. “The main candidates that I’m following are the front runners because they get the most me- dia coverage. So I keep up with Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Biden, and I’m less knowledgeable about people like Gabbard and Klobuchar.”
Meanwhile, others have not been as enthused at following
the election. Kinesiology major Carlos Sandoval pointed out, “I think it’s very overwhelm- ing. I could say one issue is important and someone else could prioritize another issue. But it’s about what’s being ad- dressed. At the end of the day, not everyone is going to besatisfied. It’s very hard to getinto it because it’s very multi- faceted.” Kalejaiye agreed as well, stating, “I feel like other Westmont students are in the same boat as me with the lack of time. We all watch to be aware of what’s going on po- litically, but we just have lim- ited time to be able to do so.”
That being said, the prima- ry process can be confusing. “I would want to ask what the purpose of primaries are.Of course it’s to figure outwho’s gonna battle it out for the nomination, but I get con- fused with the polling when
in reality no one has really voted yet,” said Sandoval. Primaries might have their pros and cons, but Knecht still believes Westmont students should pay attention. “Voting in every election is important, and primary elections are no exception.” Johnson wants to encourage Westmont stu- dents to be aware too. “I think that all young adults should be knowledgeable about pol- itics. Especially in college, it’s important to be mindful. Politics are still relevant even though we’re only twenty years old.” Happy voting and make each vote count!
NOTE: This article was written before Pete Buttigieg suspended his presidential campaign.