Ironically, if the current Progressive Wilsonian “direct democracy” process is purportedly so democratic, how did it result in nominating the two least popular major-party candidates in polling history? Party regulars, Madison might remind us, especially those who actually know the candidates and can exercise serious “peer review,” may ultimately be better judges of candidate character and competence, and less likely to fall prey to populist demagoguery.
Is a media-dominated outsider populist primary process an adequate substitute for a party-oriented republican process capable of exercising a deliberative judgment on whether a particular candidate is ill-suited by character and temperament to be President of the United States? Or, as political scientist Jim Ceaser has argued, perhaps we need a “mixed system” which requires candidates to appeal to popular sentiment and to pass peer review muster with party professionals, especially elected officials with whom presidents need to work. The media bosses have failed us with their faux populism.
We need to relearn the value of Madisonian republicanism. Let’s reform the reforms to make the process more deliberative and less democratic. Bring back the party bosses. The general election is sufficiently democratic to allow us to pass judgment on their nomination choices.