Why Do They Call it the “Silent Primary”?

Because there is a lot they don’t want you to know or hear.

You may not realize it, but even though the next national election is still more than a year and a half away, a virtual gaggle of candidates is already attempting to get made-up, made-over and primped (some even pimping) for the next scheduled beauty pageant we call a presidential election.

Just look at the lineup: Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham, Rick Super PacsPerry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Sam Brownback, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump. And what do they all have in common? They have all declared that they are “exploring” a campaign for the Republican nomination for president. So far, the list of potential Democratic presidential candidates is a bit shorter, with only Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and maybe Elizabeth Warren in the discussion. (As I have written before, the Republicans are always more fun.)

The story we are supposed to believe is that all these potential candidates – especially the ones bearing Republican credentials – are focused on the much-ballyhooed primary season that starts with the Iowa caucuses next January. In this string of primaries from January to June, voters of both the Republican and Democratic parties are supposedly able to select their candidate for president. But it is a sham. It is stagecraft made-up to look like Jeffersonian democracy at work.

The reality is that the real primary election is already underway. It’s happening right now. And it is called the “silent primary” for good reason: It is a primary to which we are not invited to participate. It is a primary in which only huge corporations and the mightiest of the mighty wealthy are allowed to vote.

Unlike millions who will traipse to the polls for next year’s primaries, there may be less than 50 voters in this “silent primary.” But these elite voters will determine among themselves who the rest of us will be allowed to vote for next year. The ballots in this silent primary are paper, paper money, which is counted in multiple millions of dollars. The only “exploring” these 16 would-be candidates will do is to identify how many millions of dollars are pledged to them by corporations and the super-wealthy.


This so-called “silent primary” is the residue of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that declared corporations and the uber-wealthy were free to contribute unlimited amounts of money to a candidate. The general issue in the Citizens United case was the corrupting power of money in politics. The Supreme Court took the narrow position that money itself is not corrupting. The Court ruled that for corruption to be present there must be a quid pro quo such as specific promise to do something, i.e. a bribe. This opened the door for corporations and the wealthy to give as much money as they desired. And this created the “Super PAC” so donors could avoid the appearance of a bribe, by giving the money to a group that, in theory, the candidate does not control.

As a result, all these would-be candidates for president are scurrying around the country trying to curry the favor of these obscenely wealthy contributors. The meetings are held in secret, so who knows what is being said or promised?

Who Are These Super PAC Donors?

It has been estimated that there are about 50 billionaires and near-billionaires that organize and “vote” in this “silent primary.” Among them and the Super PACs they support, it is projected that well over one billion dollars will be raised and spent to support the winner of their own personal private primary. You can get a glimpse of which organizations and individuals donate to the Super PAC honey pot here.

For any candidate the “silent primary” is the first and most important primary of all; all the other “real primaries” are simply window dressing. If you as a candidate don’t find favor in the private “silent primary” of Super PAC donors, then for all intents and purposes your campaign is over before the big show — the public primary —  even begins.

As evidence of this, it has been reported by the media that Chris Christie, who was the early odds-on favorite for the Republican presidential nomination is losing the “silent primary” and his star is fading. Mitt Romney considered another run for president, but when an early survey of the “silent primary” voters was taken, finding little support, he abandoned his effort. We may agree or disagree with either Christie or Romney, but we will never be allowed to freely express our viewpoint because those controlling the “silent primary” have already spoken for us.

The Supreme Court may have been well intended, but the justices were just plain wrong. By defining corruption as only existing in the case of a specific bribe agreement, the Court effectively fertilized the real corruption in politics, the influence of virtually unlimited amounts of money.

The consequence of this new world of post-Citizens United politics, is that fewer than 50 people can decide who millions of voters can or cannot vote for in an election. All these wealthy donors and their Super PACs use their money and influence to determine (in secret) just who the rest of us will have the opportunity to actually vote for; as if we had a real choice.

The reality is that unless a candidate does well in the “silent primary” (it should be called the “pecuniary primary”) they will lack the funds necessary for a campaign in the modern world of politics. And this robs the rest of us of the real chance to participate in democracy. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United a new type of democracy is emerging in this country; what we could call a “silent democracy.” It is a system that is silent, because much like the “democracy” in Russia and China, everyone gets to vote, but who they get to vote for is determined by the power of a few that is far beyond the average person’s power to control.

If we continue to accept a democracy that condones decisions made in a “silent primary,” we will soon find our rights to a true democracy silenced.

5 responses to “Why Do They Call it the “Silent Primary”?

  1. *OUTRAGEOUS! .. But I’m Not Suprised! Thank You For Sharing.

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