Come January 2017, the most powerful nation in the world will have a new president after an almost one year-long expensive campaign. But are you there caught in the quagmire of how US presidential elections work? Well, let's take you step by step into the electoral process and discuss a little about the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaign hullabaloos this year.
The constitution and who can run for presidency
The basic process of choosing a President of the United States is laid out in the U.S constitution. Technically, anyone contending to be president or vice president of the United States must be a natural born US citizen, at least 35 years old, and must have been a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years. Elections are held after every four years and a person is not eligible for a third term as President.
Political parties choosing their candidates
Different political parties decide on how to select their representative candidates. Most political parties hold conventions, which are large meetings attended by delegates. These delegates can be chosen through primaries, caucuses or just by their prominence in the party. Through a series of elections starting in February, each presidential candidate collects a number of delegates with the power to vote for them during the party conventions held in July. The more the state contests a candidate wins, the more the number of delegates pledged to support them at the convention.
In this year, candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump of the Democrat Party as well as Republican Party respectively were the clear winners of their party's conventions in July. They subsequently selected and officially unveiled their vice-president picks, Democrat Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Republican Governor Mike Pence of Indiana.
What are primaries and caucuses?
Primaries are a straightforward form of voting process where citizens go and cast their votes for their preferred presidential candidates at a designated location.
Caucuses on the other hand are a complicated form of primaries whereby instead of voting through the ballot, citizens gather at local voting spots and candidates try to win their votes by selling them ideas. Whoever gets the most support from the supporters wins. Caucuses help political parties to organize themselves at the local level and currently only 14 states hold them.
After the conventions
Once the conventions are finished and presidential candidates for each party officially confirmed, the home-stretch for the presidential elections begins. Speeches, debates and fundraisers follow with all appointed candidates trying their best to stay in the public eye as much as possible.
The 1st debate this year was held in New York on September, with Trump and Clinton sharing a stage for the first time. And as expected, it did not disappoint. Each candidate tore into the other's weak points to discredit their bid for presidency. Hillary Clinton seemingly had the upper edge in the debate as Trump seemingly lost his cool from time to time. In case you missed this one, there are two more televised debates coming up, one on Sunday 9th October in St Louis, Missouri and the other on Wednesday 19th October in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The presidential election
The presidential election happens every first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, which is on the 8th this year. People all over the country vote for whichever candidate they believe will serve them best. These votes are counted and are referred to as the popular vote. A popular vote does not merely determine the winner. This is where the Electoral College comes in.
The Electoral College
The Electoral College is a group of people who gather and vote for the various presidential candidates just like the delegates at the political party's conventions. Basically, when Americans are casting their votes for the presidential candidates, they are actually voting for electors; electors who are then supposed to cast their votes for the candidates. This group is represented by 538 people, and only 270 of them are needed to make a president.
Each state has a certain number of "electors" based on their population in the most recent census, and these electors happen to be the same number of districts in a state, plus 2 senators.
Through the Electoral College, the presidential candidate with the highest number of votes in each state gets all the electoral votes for that state (except for Nebraska and Maine). For example, if the state of New York has 29 electoral votes, it casts all its votes for the winning candidate. So if candidate A has 2,200,205 votes and candidate B has 2,200,200 votes, candidate A still gets all the State's electoral votes and candidate B gets nothing.
When all the electoral votes are counted, the presidential candidate with most votes automatically wins. In the few weeks after election, the victor then goes ahead to assemble his or her cabinet and create a more detailed policy agenda. Under the U.S. constitution, the president is inaugurated on the 20th of January after the election year.
Go through the wall
Many times I have been asked what I mean when I say; "When you hit the wall go through it - don't look for the long way around!"
It's easy really, but let me explain why this is what I have as my life motto.
Life has it's challenges and sometimes life can be cruel, hard and really upsetting. And sometimes we just feel like we have hit the wall for one reason or the other.
When we do hit that wall it is so hard to see any solution to the problem and a normal reaction is to try avoiding any more pain, and we start to look for a way out of whatever problem we are in, in other words we look for the way around the wall to get to the other side. But this way can be very long and we might not even find the way around that wall, and we get stuck with it and the suffering we feel. This is when we should break through the wall despite knowin it is going to hurt more than anything we have ever felt before, but the pain will set us free as soon as we get through.
I'm have no illusions that this is an easy path, the wall might be both tick and hard, but I can from experience promisse that when you get through it your life will take another turn!