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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ceaser on the 2016 Election and the Nominating System

Comments from James Ceaser in an Atlantic interview with Emma Green:
This is the danger of this fully popular system. There’s a higher probability that you could get a demagogic result—it’s ripe for that. And lo and behold, that’s what we have. It’s the realization of the fear people had about this system.

There are disadvantages to a limited system, too—no system is perfect. It can become stale; it can protect too much of the status quo; it can fail to hear messages that are surging up. This is a point that has been made in both the Sanders and Trump phenomena—there is something the political class is missing that became clear in this primary process. So it’s not as if one has all the benefits and none of the disadvantages—it’s a mix.
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You also have two candidates who weren’t members of their party. That’s another extraordinary thing: The party used to say hey, we control this, we’re going to pick the one that we want. Now, a party at the national level is kind of like a public utility. They don’t have a basis even of limiting who the candidates are to their own party. Bernie Sanders is not a Democratic. He was a socialist. And Trump was really not a Republican. But they came in and rented a party because that’s the way the rules are set up.
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By “public utility,” in a way, I mean [they’re] running an election by some neutral rule—they’re just sort of running the election for the candidates. Anyone can walk in, and the party can’t really shape this very much. Parties decided to do this on their own. Usually it works out—most of the time, you’ve gotten good candidates out of it—but now it’s come to the point that they haven’t been able to say, “Well, we don’t want this person because he hasn’t been a member of the party.” You would think a party would be able to do that.