Washington Post Op-ed: ‘Give the Elites a Bigger Say in Choosing the President’

CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos (R) gestures as he addresses the Amazon's annual Smbhav event in New Delhi on January 15, 2020. - Bezos, whose worth has been estimated at more than $110 billion, is officially in India for a meeting of business leaders in New Delhi. (Photo by Sajjad …

The Washington Post is taking criticism for an op-ed published Tuesday by Marquette University political science professor Julia Azari, titled: “It’s time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president.”

Citing the “rocky start” to the Democratic Party’s presidential primary, Azari suggests that the process of choosing the nominee be taken from the people and returned to the politicians:

The current process is clearly flawed, but what would be better? … A better primary system would empower elites to bargain and make decisions, instructed by voters.

One lesson from the 2020 and 2016 election cycles is that a lot of candidates, many of whom are highly qualified and attract substantial followings, will inevitably enter the race. The system as it works now — with a long informal primary, lots of attention to early contests and sequential primary season that unfolds over several months — is great at testing candidates to see whether they have the skills to run for president. What it’s not great at is choosing among the many candidates who clear that bar, or bringing their different ideological factions together, or reconciling competing priorities. A process in which intermediate representatives — elected delegates who understand the priorities of their constituents — can bargain without being bound to specific candidates might actually produce nominees that better reflect what voters want.

Azari suggests that the parties should use what she calls “preference primaries,” which would “allow voters to rank their choices among candidates, as well as to register opinions about their issue priorities.”

After a perfunctory voting process, elites would be able to choose a nominee based on information about what the voters want.

She acknowledges that the idea is “labor-intensive and a little risky.”

The Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who is the world’s richest man. The paper’s slogan, adopted as an intended rebuke to President Donald Trump, is “Democracy dies in darkness.”

That phrase was trending on Twitter on Wednesday morning as readers reacted ironically to the op-ed.

Azari’s article appears to anticipate the possibility of a “brokered convention” among Democrats this summer. Currently, no candidate is projected to win a majority of delegates before they gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — near Professor Azari’s university — at the Democratic National Convention.

If no candidate wins on the first ballot, there will be a second — at which point committed delegates will be free to choose other candidates, and the party elites, known as “superdelegates,” will be able to vote.

Also on Tuesday, billionaire oligarch Mike Bloomberg, who once changed the rules to run for a third term as mayor of New York City, qualified for the Democrat debate in Nevada on Wednesday evening.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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