A Grammar of American Politics: The National Government

By Wilfred E. Binkley; Malcolm C. Moos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARIES AND ELECTIONS

TO RECORD what goes on behind the scenes in a primary campaign, and perhaps even more important, to include the processes that unfold in the pre-primary stage, is not easy within the brief compass of an introductory book on American political institutions. Politics, like many of the professions, is an art the understanding of which is greatly enhanced by intimate association at the operational level. To attend a party caucus, assist in the planning and conduct of a campaign, or to help organize meetings as the candidate takes his stand on the hustings is to know what Frank Kent so appropriately terms "The Great Game of Politics." The entire nominating procedure, as we have already noted, is one of sifting or winnowing the number of candidates who seek the primary nomination. Although in theory any person who meets the customary state requirements on residence and citizenship may enter a primary campaign, usually by paying a filing fee that ranges from fifty to one hundred dollars, the evidence suggests that the elimination process begins very early.


WHO GOES TO CONGRESS

In the normal course of events candidates who carry off nominations are not persons who simply go through the motions of announcing their candidacy and paying the required filing fee. Planning is the keystone of the nominative process. Quite independent of the primary, selective forces are operating within our society to steer some people into the stream of politics. Not all persons, to be sure, who take an active hand in politics will emerge as candidates for public office. Many who willingly serve the party shun the thought of candidacy for public office, while others lack either the qualities or the good fortune to realize ambitions to hold an elective public post. In examining the background of the men

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