Reforming the Reforms: A Critical Analysis of the Presidential Selection Process

Reforming the Reforms: A Critical Analysis of the Presidential Selection Process

Reforming the Reforms: A Critical Analysis of the Presidential Selection Process

Reforming the Reforms: A Critical Analysis of the Presidential Selection Process

Excerpt

American politics has just passed through an extraordinary era of reform, the consequences of which have been as profound as those of the reform period that accompanied the Progressive movement earlier in this century. No major national institution, with the possible exception of the Supreme Court, has escaped the influence of the recent reforms, and their effects are certain to continue -- and perhaps to increase -- throughout this decade, even as the impetus for reform begins to diminish.

The movement for reform first came to national prominence at the strife-torn 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Antiwar activists and advocates of the "New Politics" launched an attack not only on the nation's party system and method of nominating presidential candidates but also, in some measure, on the entire structure of American representative institutions. The spirit of reform, moderated in the hands of political leaders in the Democratic party and Congress, quickly gathered momentum, dominating much of the rhetoric of the last decade and all but compelling many in public life to offer unqualified praise of democracy and openness. In the name of reform, the nominating system was changed from a predominantly representative process in which delegates and party leaders had the final say in choosing the nominees, to a process based on the priniple of direct democracy, in which the voters in primaries determined the results. The reform movement spread to Congress, where . . .

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