The 10 Strangest Things A Foreigner In The US Finds About The US Presidential Election

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US Elections: A God Damned Circus:

I’m just going to come straight out with it, US elections are a god damned circus.

I mean, there are a whole lot of crazy elements to politics all over the world. But being an Australian living in the US in the lead up to a presidential election is like living on another planet, with unfathomable amounts of money being spent left and right, and young girls in red blue and white screaming at you that “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE!”

The Money

Image Source: Donkey Hotey

Do you actually know exactly how much money goes into a US election? It is staggering. In 2012, more dollars were spent on the election than people on planet Earth, totaling an estimated 7 BILLION.

Unlike other countries, the US has no rules on how early a candidate can start campaigning for an election and no limit on how much they can spend, meaning with travelling, advertising, the hiring of workers and what not, over a two year period a candidate can spend up to 1 billion dollars on their campaign alone.

The Super PACs

Speaking of money, Super PACs are super strange. They are a reasonably new type of committee that arose in 2010. Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals and then spend said unlimited sums of money to advocate for or against political candidates.

What is the Catch?. They can’t donate money directly to candidates, and their money can’t be coordinated with the candidate they benefit. Here’s some super PAC figures from the 2016 election thus far.

The Lack Of Voting

Voting is optional in the US, which took a while for me to get my head around having come from Australia, where you will cop a nice fine if you don’t put your ballot paper in the big box on Election Day.

In the US it seems to be that because voting is instead optional, less people show up to the ballots. Only 42% of Americans voted in the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest turnout since 1987. Apparently this is because of America’s uniquely difficult electoral system, fear of corruption, and Americans just generally feeling like it’s pointless because they believe nothing gets done regardless of if they vote or not.

The Strange Systems

First of all it’s very strange to me that US elections take so long, like up to five whole months. Secondly, the nominee with the most votes doesn’t even necessarily win. Instead of selecting a president based on how many votes they receive, the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College, where each state gets the same number of electors as it has Congressmen and Senators. In the end, whoever receives 270 Electoral College votes or more wins.

Related Content: Explaining The Caucus System

The Campaigns and Rallies

Image Source: Youthareawesome

The lengths candidates go to, and the things they say during the election period are astonishing. If these people weren’t being put to the masses as the best the country has to offer, the following content could be viewed as absolutely hilarious.

Let’s start with the time Ben Carson thought that the Egyptian Pyramids were used for storing grainAnd then let us throw back to when Trump was almost taken out by an eagle in an attempt to get the perfect American themed shot for his TIME cover story.

And let’s just wrap it up with the time you watched Sarah Palin endorse Trump, but were confused as to if you were witnessing a video of real life, or if she was suddenly going to yell out “April fools” and it would all finally make sense. Also, we cannot forget all of these. Yep. So there’s that.

The Two Party Set Up

Image Source: Chris Hedges

Having to vote for the lesser of two evils is a longstanding complaint in the US. As I have made very clear, the system of the US is a strange one, considering most of the democracies of the world have more than two parties that play a more meaningful role than any third party in the US over the last century. You’re not interested in the Democrat or Republican nominees? Well outside of that, the truth is as a voter you don’t really have any other meaningful choice to make.

The Crazy Caucuses

Image Source: Eagle cartoons

States have two ways of collecting their party members’ votes when choosing a presidential candidate, primaries and caucuses. A primary being when people show up to a polling place and vote by ballot, and a caucus.

Caucuses are best described as events that includes hours of debate, and while they don’t exist solely in the US, it originated here. The term is used to discuss the procedures used by some states (such as Iowa and Texas) to select presidential nominees.

This whole process still confuses me beyond belief, and a whole article could be written on it alone. I highly suggest taking the time to get more educated on the complexity of caucuses here.

The Coin Toss

Now I can’t give the US all the credit for this one because apparently a number of countries use this party trick to decide on a tied result in politics. But in a handful of US Democratic caucus precincts this year, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss. According to an obscure Democratic rule, a coin flip can be called upon if a result is a tie. Go figure.

The Card Game

Not to mention the trick to be used in Nevada Caucuses. In case of a tie, the winner will be selected through a card game. A single card will be randomly picked from a card deck, and the candidate with the higher card wins. What a nice way to decide the destiny of a nation.

The Redskin Rule

Image Source: Keith Allison

Want to know how football outcomes predict the US Presidential Election? The Redskin Rule. Proving US Elections are actually a sport, the Redskins Rule is the result of politics producing superstitions. Basically, if the Washington Redskins lose in their final home game before the presidential vote, the incumbent will lose. Because you know, we want to leave the decision on who will lead the country up to a sporting team.

The Set Election Day Itself (Tuesday)

Want to know why Election Day is a Tuesday? Because back in 1845 the US was largely an agrarian society and farmers often needed a full day to travel by horse drawn carts to the county seat to vote. Tuesday is Election Day because it didn’t interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day which was often on a Wednesday. Old habits die hard, apparently.

Finally, we need to wrap this up with what can only be described as the most terrifying piece of rally content to come out of this presidential election thus far, the USA Freedom Kids. Because, murica’.

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Trump's 'USA Freedom Kids' sing at rally

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XpatNation is a Social News and Lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences of ex-patriots living in The United States. XpatNation brings together the voices, thoughts, perceptions and experiences of the people of the world who have made the USA their home. Using their insight and unique understanding of the global world we live in to discuss culture, lifestyle, Geo politics and the day to day on-goings of this proud and powerful nation.

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