Monday, October 22, 2012

Where Modern Primaries Came From

I didn't know the story! Thanks for telling it, Professor Bernstein. And thanks for playing a heroic part, George McGovern.

People often complain that the two-party system doesn't give you enough options. I would've had much more sympathy with that claim in 1968, when antiwar activists made a serious effort to win primaries, and won a few of them, but the system was rigged with pre-selected delegates so the primaries didn't matter.  Nowadays, if Jill Stein or whoever wants to put new issues and a new perspective on the agenda, there's a way she can do so: by using democracy! If she wins the Democratic primary elections, she and not Barack Obama will be squaring off with Mitt Romney in the debates. Thanks to George McGovern, that's the system we have now, and it's a much better one.


Benjamin Rider said...

The problem with that, Neil, is that to be taken seriously as a candidate in the primaries, you must win the support of the party establishment (elected leaders, donors, political actors, etc.). There have been plenty of candidates in recent elections who have tried to raise other issues and perspectives through the primary process: Kucinich, Ron Paul, etc. Gary Johnson participated in the Republican primaries, but received very little attention. You can perhaps nudge the discussion a little here and there. But once the general election begins, the debate is dominated by the same two party lines as always.

Neil Sinhababu said...

But how about all those Tea Party candidates? They moved the whole Republican party in their direction by winning primaries.