the current system, citizens seeking representation or deliberating on their choices rarely know who the professionals are. And though the professionals may have mediated a citizen or group's representation to the candidate in a prior campaign, once the candidate is in office or starts a new campaign, the mediating organization may vanish completely. In the case of initiatives and referenda, the coalitions sponsoring and opposing the ballot measures almost always dissolve after the election, without even leaving an officeholder as a point of citizen contact. Thus, the transient mediators and coordinators of campaign-centered politics offer a far less promising foundation for representative democracy than the former party-centered system, even when we recognize the abuses common in that old system. If the contemporary system were organizationally candidate centered, it would at least offer a consistent practical means of gaining representation or coordinating deliberation.
This analysis suggests the leverage we gain from recognizing the campaign- centered nature of the contemporary electoral order. We can integrate what we already know from a Key-style piecemeal analysis of voters, campaigns, and government into a broader empirical and normative exploration of American politics. For example, on the empirical side, this analysis offers a more fundamental basis for explaining the fragmentation of contemporary government and policymaking. 53 If we begin with the notion that our electoral politics is candidate centered, we explain the fragmentation by looking at the incentives for each elected official to be, in Morris Fiorina's phrase, "responsive but irresponsible."54 Those incentives are indeed present, but our campaign-centered system offers no means for establishing consistent representative or deliberative relationships even if a candidate or officeholder wanted to do so.
The normative implications are also striking. In the eighteenth century, relatively few Americans were troubled by the way campaign-centered politics insulated elected elites such as George Washington from their constituents. Now the near absence of two-way communication between citizens and those elites seems understandable, but far more difficult to justify in democratic terms.