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Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods

July 2, 1924

Report Outline
Criticism of the Convention System
Proposed Reforms
Conventions as Platform Makers

Introduction

Twelve years ago, as a result of the rejection of Roosevelt's candidacy by the administration controlled convention at Chicago and the elimination of Champ Clark after he had secured a majority. of the votes at Baltimore, widespread dissatisfaction with the convention method of nominating candidates for the presidency developed throughout the country. The presidential primary system, which various states had recently sought to graft upon the convention system, was called a “farce” and it was widely asserted that “the people of the United States have as much influence in selecting the president as the British have in choosing a crown prince.”

Due to the current criticism and distrust, many observers believed in 1912 that the country had seen its last old-fashioned political convention. President Wilson's recommendation in his first annual message that national conventions be radically reorganized and cease entirely to function as nominating bodies was welcomed by many voters who had lost confidence in the representative character and responsiveness of national conventions.

Distrust of congressional caucuses as nominating bodies during the first quarter of the last century led to the dethronement of “King Caucus” after 1824 and the substitution of national conventions. One of the principal objections brought against congressional caucuses was that the legislative branch, having arrogated to itself the power of conferring office, would come to dominate the whole government, thus upsetting the constitutional system of checks and balances. The same objection is sometimes made to national conventions when they are dominated by congressional or senatorial cliques.

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BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Campaigns and Elections
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