This year's presidential election has the potential to be one of the greatest political trainwrecks in American history.
The founding fathers had a low opinion of the average citizen. That's why Presidents are selected by the Electoral College and not by popular vote.
The founders also didn't believe in partisan politics, which is why there's no mention of political parties in the Constitution, so the present method of primary elections, caucuses, and party conventions evolved erratically over the years.
While most savvy voters know the president and vice president aren't elected by popular vote, and that each party's nominees are selected by delegates attending national conventions, they may not know that, in most cases, those delegates can vote for whomever they want, regardless of the results of their state's primaries or caucuses after the first ballot. There are even five states and territories who don't hold primaries or caucuses, resulting in 112 delegates who can vote according to their personal preferences without direction from voters.
Consider the 1968 Democratic convention. Despite the fact that over 80 percent of primary voters had supported anti-Vietnam war candidates, the "peace" candidate, Senator Eugene McCarthy, was defeated by Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had not competed in any of the primaries, instead gaining his delegates in caucus states that were controlled by party leaders.
The Humphrey business resulted in many- but not all- states to adopt rules where delegates are bound to vote for the winning candidate during the convention's first ballot. After that, it's a free-for-all.
The worst case scenario to date was the 1924 Democratic convention, a 16-day marathon that required 103 ballots to select a candidate. Wikipedia notes that during his 1960 campaign, John F. Kennedy cited the dilemma of the Massachusetts delegation at the 1924 convention when making light of his own campaign problems: "Either we must switch to a more liberal candidate or move to a cheaper hotel."
What could happen this year? Say Trump is nominated, despite the party's efforts to thwart his campaign. Disgruntled Republicans could put together a third-party ticket, in an effort to prevent any candidate from winning the absolute majority of 270 electoral votes necessary to win the general election.
Should that happen, the president would be chosen by that shining example of civic responsibility, the U.S. House of Representatives, composed of lame duck Congressmen, many with an axe to grind. The U.S. Senate gets to pick the vice president.
Could it come to that? Probably not. But the odds are good the Republicans will have a brokered convention, and the Democrats may have one as well, if Bernie Sanders can convince uncommitted superdelegates to take his side.
A flea can be taught everything a congressman can.
A penny saved is a Congressional oversight.
All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues,
and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into
a struggle of cabals.
-John Quincy Adams
America, where thanks to Congress, there are forty million laws to
enforce the Ten Commandments.
Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid
for one's friends.
-George F. Will
But with Congress- every time they make a joke it's a law. And every
time they make a law it's a joke.
Congress acknowledged that society's accumulated myths and fears about
disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical
limitations that flow from actual impairment.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.
Congress is continually appointing fact-finding committees, when what we
really need are some fact-facing committees.
Congress is so beholden to the money that any solution in the general
interest will be frustrated and subverted by the corporate interests who
feel they will be damaged by progress, fair play and justice.
Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing. Nobody
listens-and then everybody disagrees.
Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of
the constitution as a working machine.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
except to encourage attendance in Christian churches; or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof, except to require prayer in schools; or abridging
the freedom of speech, except for those questioning the Bush
administration; or of the press, except that not owned by Rupert
Murdoch; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, except those
protesting pre-emptive wars; and to petition the government for a
redress of grievance, except those we don't like.
Congress: the legislative stone in America's urethra.
Fifty years ago I promised myself that I would retire on the day that I
would be required to write a song about trans-vaginal ultrasounds. I
decided to unretire when I heard that member of Congress had been
cavorting in the Sea of Galilee. How can you make that up?
He still had a fragment of his boyhood belief that congressmen were
persons of intelligence and importance.
I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties
on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for
burning that for which the flag stands.
I'll sign on for results-based pay for teachers the day Congress gets
the same deal.
I've had a tough time learning to act like a congressman. Today I
accidentally spent some of my own money.
-Joseph P. Kennedy II
If I was a President and wanted something I would claim I didn't want
it. Congress has not given any President anything he wanted in the last
ten years. Be against anything and then he is sure to get it.
If the presidency is the head of the American body politic, Congress is
its gastrointestinal tract. Its vast and convoluted inner workings may
be mysterious and unpleasant, but in the end they excrete a great deal
of material whose successful passage is crucial to our nation's survival.
In a body (like Congress) where there are more than one hundred talking
lawyers, you can make no calculation upon the termination of any debate.
-Franklin P. Adams
In your country club, your church and business, about 15 percent of the
people are screwballs, lightweights and boobs and you would not want
those people unrepresented in Congress.
Invest in America. Buy a Congressman. (T-shirt)
Only the good die young, which explains the average age of Congressmen.
Other employees would do no better than Congressmen if the boss showed
an interest in them only once in two years.
Sloths move at the speed of congressional debate but with greater
deliberation and less noise.
Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it.
The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable
violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles. The
danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical
bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S.
The mistakes made by Congress wouldn't be so bad if the next Congress
didn't keep trying to correct them.
The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both
Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to
overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for
power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose.
The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live
in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the
President has to tell 'em.
The United States Congress, like a lot of rich people, lives in two
The White House used to belong to the American people. At least that's
what I learned from history books and from covering every president
starting with John F. Kennedy. But now the 201-year-old Executive
Mansion belongs only to a select, elitist group of people, including top
government officials, members of Congress and the press corps. They and
some others, all of whom are screened in advance, are welcome. But most
people are not- not anymore.
There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican
congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen.
There are people in Congress I would not trust to look after my plants.
There are so many women on the floor of Congress, it looks like a mall.
There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress,
as well as others, than I had any conception (of), before I became
President of the U.S.
-James K. Polk
There is no distinctly American criminal class- except Congress.
There's not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in
Congress who say that I'm usurping my authority. Some of those folks
think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.
They go up there and forget who brung 'em to the dance. (re: Congressmen
in Washington DC)
They say that women talk too much. If you have worked in Congress you
know that the filibuster was invented by men.
-Clare Boothe Luce
This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as
when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
Too many critics mistake the deliberations of the Congress for its
We elect Democrats to the Congress to give us stuff and we elect
Republicans to the White House so we don't have to pay for it.
We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and
complex-but Congress can.
Well, they finally stopped us from sending marines to every war that we
could hear of. They are having one in Afghanistan. The thing will be
over before Congress can pronounce it, much less find out where it is
What Democratic congressmen do to their women staffers, Republican
congressmen do to the country.
What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they
deem it necessary? (As Washington, DC mayor)
-Marion S. Barry, Jr.
When Congress alters the federal balance, it must carefully consider the
consequences of doing so.
Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is
now for Congress and ultimately the American people to decide.
You know, I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress
regulates Wall Street. In truth that's not the case. The real truth is
that Wall Street regulates the Congress.
(March 4 is also the birthday of Robert Orben..)
The 114th United States Congress begins today. To prepare you for the inevitable onslaught of political rhetoric, here's the master of language and comedy, George Carlin, airing his complaints.
"They speak, of course, with great caution, because they must take care not to actually say anything."
Taken from a May 19, 1999 appearance before the National Press Club, Carlin's observations are free of profanity, which make them shareable. Pass along the link: http://youtu.be/UJRSHqeu_WM
(January 5 is also the birthday of Konrad Adenour.)
Pumpkin and Chloe share a bed.
In related news, Hell has frozen over.
I don't think granddaughter Joelle is buying
the whole dancing sugarplums visions thing.
Ok, let's get it all out of our systems...
"I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot
handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it?
That's just not going to fly.
-Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE)
"It's a problem for us because the other side has locked up the stupid
-Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL)
The Republican Party is like the corpse in Weekend at Bernie's,
and the Tea Party is the two guys who put a hat and sunglasses on it and
dragged it around town."
"The government shutdown could cost the American economy $300 million a
day. To put that in perspective, it would be like every day the economy
released a new Lone Ranger movie."
I wasn't happy about the country being controlled by the richest one
percent, but I really hate it being controlled by the dumbest one
"At least here in America, crucial agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol
are still on the job. That's a good thing. The last thing we need is an
influx of Canadians, with their politeness and a government that's open
There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two
great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in
opposition to each other.
Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.
REMEMBER: You go to war with the army you have but you don't get people
health insurance until every detail is perfect.
Some would add the President and his cabinet as well. Via the ever-reliable Onion.