Without the divisiveness created by the anti-Vietnam War protesters in the late 1960s, the women's movement, and demands of civil rights leaders, it seems doubtful that party reform, especially in the Democratic Party, would have become the powerful force that transformed the presidential nominating process forever. The spark that set off the explosion of party reform was the strife-torn 1968 Democrat National Convention in Chicago.
Antiwar candidate Senator Eugene J. McCarthy and his partisans screamed "foul" when Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey won the Democratic nomination without having entered a single primary. McCarthy, a political unknown, had nearly upset President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, and his impending victory in the upcoming Wisconsin primary reportedly persuaded President Johnson not to seek reelection. Throughout the general election campaign, McCarthyites remained convinced that their candidate had been denied the nomination by insider caucus-convention politics and a stacked convention.
Earlier in the hot summer of 1968, a group of outnumbered McCarthy supporters, led by Iowa Democratic Governor Harold Hughes, created the first reform commission to study the procedures by which national convention delegates had been chosen. Officially known as the Commission on the Democratic Selection of Presidential Nominees, the Hughes Commission reported a disheartening picture of unfair practices. The list of abuses uncovered by the Hughes and McGovern-Fraser Commission was long and detailed. In more than twenty states the party rules governing national