Thursday, April 21, 2016

Primaries and Democratic Legitimacy

I have seen several columns lately worrying over the state of the nomination process. Frank Bruni and Ezra Klein and others fret that winning the nomination seems to be mainly about gaming the caucuses or courting key blocks in key primaries, not winning over the most voters, and they note that many people in both parties have complained that their will is being frustrated by a rigged system. Klein:
Behind all these disputes lurks a deeper critique of the primaries — one that threatens to tear apart both parties as we head toward the convention. And that critique, put simply, is that the primaries are neither fair nor democratic, and as such their results are illegitimate.
I would certainly love to see a major reform of the primary system, but I think these worries are overblown. After all, the system survived Florida's hanging chad disaster. A splintered convention would be a short-term blow to the Republicans and might usher in a great two or four years for Hillary and the Democrats, but in 2020 the Republicans would be back.


Shadow said...

Florida was an inter-party battle around which each party could unite its members. Primaries are an intra-party conflict that can divide members, I'm not sure they compare well. Super delegates can give a victory to a candidate who lost the popular vote in a state by a wide margin. Unaffiliated delegates can do the same.

There are similarities to the electoral college and the popular vote, but everyone knows, or should know, it is the college (and states) that elect a president and not the popular vote. Not necessarily so with the primaries. The rules differ with each state and are mostly obscured from view by the average party member. Opening a window to the primary nomination process is revealing and surprising, and I wonder how people may react.

John said...

All true, but realistically the system is more democratic now than it ever was in the past; we forget that until the 60s primaries were used in only a few states. I would like for it to be even more democratic, but I don't see rejecting the candidates now when they have only played along with the system as it is.