Contradictory Critique of the Day

Linda Chavez writes:

Fifty state primaries or caucuses in which only a fraction of the voters participate is neither the most democratic nor the best method for choosing good presidential nominees.

Her solution?

We will never return to the old smoke-filled rooms that managed to produce balanced tickets and satisfy diverse constituencies, but maybe it’s time to rethink the current system.


I’d like to see a greater role for elected officials in selecting the nominee.

Now, I have a host of criticisms about the primary process, but it is a strange interpretation of “most democratic” to suggest that power should be shifted away from voters to elected officials.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I actually think we need more smoke-filled rooms.

  2. John Burgess says:

    Yeah, I’m in favor of smoke-filled rooms, too!

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, you know, voting is so messy and to judged by… the common people…. Well! I just don’t know what to say.

  4. MSS says:

    Well, a lot of the political parties literature (US and comparative) would support such a claim.

    It is not clear why you should need intra-party democracy for democracy itself to work, and it’s not clear that introducing it makes the resulting system “more democratic”.

  5. @MSS: I can see an argument not wanting it or needing it.

    I just find the claim that it is more democratic a bit odd, especially in this particular process, as she seems to be suggesting that something like “superdelegates” (a la the Democrats) improve the system, which I find to be a dubious claim.

  6. And, too, since I am not all that happy with the way many elected officials (specifically members of Congress are selected) I am doubly dubious about Chavez’s claim.