"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But is is, perhaps, the end of the end of the beginning." Winston Churchill, to the House of Commons, after a series of defeats in Europe and the Pacific, finally announcing the defeat of Rommel's army in Egypt.
The candidates may be feeling something like this. As of this morning, almost everyone has concluded that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the respective nominees. The voters have not yet decided that, and they still get to decide the party nominee.
A larger question posed to both parties has risen up. What is the purpose of the primaries, that is, do the voters get to decide (purely popular elections) or do the parties and their many moving parts, get to decide? Trump has called out the party rules as corrupt (despite the fact that he is winning proportionately more delegates than actual votes), and many on the Democratic side have wondered about the superdelegates. In addition, each state has different rules, which makes the entire process seem oddly out of pace with the electorate.
The history shows us that parties are voluntary organizations, to which people belong, and that each organization has the right to establish its own rules.The primary voters are not necessarily even party members, Crossover voters in open primaries permit individual voters, who may or may not even consider themselves party members to vote.
Look at two of the candidates. Donald Trump declares himself a Republican and leads the race, despite his very checkered past supporting Democrats and opposing Republicans. Bernie Sanders was not elected to the US Senate as a Democrat. But there is no test in either party rules that prohibits any person from declaring themselves to be and then transforming into that which is.
The parties have created this system because so many voters reject party affiliation. And it's those voters, the independents, the first time voters, the people who reject party labels, that the parties need to win elections.
One might ask which candidate is best positioned to win those voters this fall? It is likely that both bases of both parties will be ginned up and ready to fight; but is there a candidate that can attract independent and unaligned voters to their cause? To their side?
This week's primaries will not give any candidate the majority they need to win, but they will push us closer to the end of the beginning. But fear not, this campaign is nowhere near a conclusion, and there is much more to come.