Presidential Elections 101

Let’s talk politics.

How many of you guys did I just lose? Five? Twelve? Fifteen? That’s expected. The rest of you who miraculously stuck around are probably wondering why some clueless young girl like myself would want to talk politics with a bunch of teenagers like yourselves via World Wide Web. And you’d be right. Why am I discussing politics with you guys? The lot of you must associate politics with some white dudes in Ralph Lauren business suits, spreading propaganda to the people while sitting in their high white castles down in Washington D.C. And you’d be right again – minus the castle part. Most teens really don’t care much about those running the glorious matinée in the United States of America theater. As long as we’ve still got Starbucks, Parks and Rec, Channing Tatum and Pokémon Go, we don’t care if our president is Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Deez Nuts (who polled 9% earlier this year).

But we should care. We should care deeply about what goes on in American politics for one simple reason – we will all eventually inherit this nation and vote for its leaders. Remaining in the dark about our democracy and political system is the equivalence of handing our freedom over to corrupt belligerents, who’ll do anything to cheat us out of our votes and rob us blind. Mic drop. Now let’s really talk politics, so when your dad asks you what you think about the events at the RNC tonight at dinner, you can dive right into conversation (and maybe finally receive that iPad, eh?).

For this installment we’ll discuss the process in which our president gets elected to office. It is simple on the surface, yet contains countless complex layers. Fingers crossed you guys become hard-core future politicians at the end of this and make Mama proud.

In the United States there are two major political parties – the Democrats and the Republicans. Many members of both these parties would just love the chance to obtain the most coveted title in all the land – President of the United States aka Most Hated Man in America. Who wouldn’t want the job? The winner gets to live in a fancy white house on Pennsylvania Ave, gets hold of the Nuclear Codes, and discovers what’s really hidden in Area 51. What can be better? Everything. The job is also said to take a couple of years off the lucky man/woman’s life.

To weed the members of the Democratic and Republican parties down to just one apiece, we begin the election process with the primaries, where registered voters choose the candidate for their party’s nomination. During primary season, which begins in the February before election month (November), voters who are registered as Democrats, may vote in the Democratic primaries, while voters who are registered as Republicans, may vote in the Republican primaries. They will vote for whomever they’d like to see representing their party in the general election, when one member of each party will battle it out in the politically correct version of The Hunger Games. Most primaries are closed primaries, and you may only vote if you are registered as a member of said party. However, some states hold open primaries, in which any voter may vote in whichever primary they wish. Did anyone say ‘Merica? Primary season begins with the Iowa Caucus in, you guessed it, Iowa, followed by the New Hampshire Primary. A majority of the time, the candidate who polls highest in these primaries goes on to representing their party in the general election.

After the primary season ends, it’s off to the National Convention. At the Democratic/Republican National Conventions, delegates (representatives) from each state gather to cast their “official” votes. At this point everyone knows who the candidate will be, but this is a tactic used to get us Americans excited about something other than Happy Meals and Coachella. They suspect that once they announce their party’s representatives, they’ll draw out voters that have never voted before.

Finally, after all the campaigning and primary-ing and National Convention-ing is through, the general election arrives. This is it. It’s now or never. Both sides are sweating uncontrollably with their pulses rapidly beating to the pings of the votes being cast. It’s the final encounter – one will live in that high white castle and the other will be at the rough end of bar jokes for years to come, and once all the votes are counted and the Electoral College has spoken (that’s a task for another post) on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, we have a new president (the president is not officially sworn into office until January 20th).

It’s lovely really. Although half of the nation will be in a period of mourning, their clothes tattered, with ashes sprinkled over their heads, the rest of us will be rejoicing at the beauty of the American political system.
So, as they say, “knowledge is power” and the more knowledge we gain about how our country is run, the more prepared we’ll be to take it over. One of you can be POTUS one day.


Molly Meisels is a 17 year old, native New Yorker and a contributing editor at When she is not writing about politics, she can be found savoring pepper steak at cozy restaurants all over the world.

Photo: Kama Neren for The Glam Salad ©

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