American Presidency

In the early 1970s, the Democratic Party changed its method of nominating presidential candidates every four years to minimize the role played by party leaders, or “bosses,” and give far greater say to the party grassroots voters in direct primaries (as in New Hampshire) and local caucuses (as in Iowa). This reform resulted in George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976 capturing the nomination over more “insider” candidates favored by party leaders.

Fifty years later, how has this reform in nominating rules working out in getting a nominee backed by the grassroots? Look specifically at the Democratic race for the nomination. First, did the nomination rules produce a diversified and qualified field of contenders for the nomination? In other words, were the goals of gender and racial equity envisioned by 1970s era reformers attained? Second, once the primaries and caucuses began in late January, were all the candidates given a good opportunity to air their platforms and for voters to see their policy differences? Wereall voices in the party heard? Third, and finally, what did party leaders’ decision to short circuit the process by coalescing behind Joe Biden in early March say about the health of party reform today? Are all voices in the party still being heard? Will this put the party in a better position to defeat Republican Donald Trump in November?

Try to limit your answer to 750 words.

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