brookings.edu

Copyright 2019

October 29, 2019

The urgent need for peer review in the presidential nominating process

Microphones stand at the podium after U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta addressed supporters at the election night rally in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif  - HT1ECB90KK9V0

Summary

After the turbulent politics of the 1960s, both Democrats and Republicans changed their parties’ nomination process for presidential candidates, shifting away from party leaders having a lot of control over who prevailed to a wide-open system. By admitting an unprecedented amount of popular participation into the selection process, anyone with enough public recognition or money can now make a credible run for president. Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings and founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management, argues that these reforms have weakened the parties’ control over who their nominees are and opened the door for unqualified candidates and those with “thin ties to democratic norms.” Kamarck recommends re-introducing an element of peer review to the nominating process by empowering party leaders and elected officials to properly vet candidates for their policy knowledge, record of public service, and temperament before primary voters start casting ballots.