The Republican presidential primary spectacle is the beginning of a brave new world of electoral anarchy. The same disruptive conditions and forces that are bedeviling Republicans this primary season are likely to discombobulate future Democratic presidential primaries and to morph inevitably into general election anarchy. Anarchy generally means no obedience to authority. In the electoral context, it means no accountable candidate selection process, no constraints on who or how many can run, no pretense of decorum among candidates, no rules for the media, and no party allegiance. Electoral anarchy means that if you have the personal money, the financial backers, the national celebrity and the unbridled gumption to go for it, you can throw your hat in the ring and run for President. There are no accepted, authoritative, intra-party barriers to entry. Electoral anarchy expands exponentially the number of candidates in the presidential primary process. It advantages the most flamboyant candidates and disadvantages the most contemplative in a crowded field. And, it increases the potential for splintering constituencies, spawning multiple independent general election candidates, and alienating the voters necessary to building winning general election coalitions.
Of course, the history of American elections is sprinkled with marginal and independent candidacies. And, we may find – as some already believe – that electoral anarchy is an improvement on the closed two party system that intermediated the candidate selection process throughout the 20th Century (and for the first twelve years of this century), and generally limited the field to candidates with a broader voter base and stronger party appeal.
But, we also might discover that it is deeply disconcerting that we are untethering the presidential selection process from the norms, rules, talent, civility and curated choices that party disciplines enforced. And, in due course, we might become horrified that we have produced a presidential selection process, fueled by unlimited contributions from the wealthiest among us, that rewards the rhetoric of anger, extremist positions, unfettered name-calling, demeaning denigration of opponents and wanton callousness to the nobility of the Presidency, itself.
Full Article: Electoral Anarchy | Rob Stein.