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Crucial Changes in Regards to the Election of the President

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Daniel Schofield-Bodt

The American Presidency

TF: Jeff Sullivan

Crucial Changes in Regards to the Election of the President

The most esteemed political position in United States government, the Presidency, possesses a storied, honored, and turbulent history.  The road to the Presidency is just as sacred a path, but with even more twists and turns.  While the power of the office has held relatively stable, the procedure in attaining and retaining that office has varied greatly over America’s lifespan.  There have been many changes in the way the President has been elected over the past 215 years and three of these alterations have revolutionized the means by which the Oval Office is secured.  These three changes are George Washington’s influence over the President’s tenure, the 20th century shift from party convention nominee selection to party primary and caucus nominee selection, and finally the shift in the importance of money in recent elections.  All three of these changes, be they conceptual, official, or purely political have had great influence over who can run for President, who actually runs for President, who can be elected President, and how he or she is actually elected President.  Each innovation has distinct associated advantages and disadvantages and not all can be deemed beneficial to the democratic ideal.  However, all three are critical changes, and crucial in the understanding of how the United States selects its President.

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[3]  No where else is democracy displayed in its truest colors.  By giving ordinary voters the chance to determine the candidates, more power is put in the hands of the people.  It is “desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to who so important a trust was to be confided.”[4]  Hamilton’s words echo the sentiment passed down through history that the ideals of the citizens of the United States be reflected in their leaders.  With the power to nominate in the hands of the people, those nominated and finally elected will find themselves ideologically that much closer to the people.  This concept is called democratization and is defined as “the spread of direct primaries, and the inclusion of more women and minorities as delegates…and a requirement that delegates carry out their pledges to vote for certain candidates at the conventions.”[5]  This system allows more people the chance to run for President.  The nomination system is open; therefore, candidates such as Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 can get on state ballots.  Corruption is easier to control in a wide open nomination system under which citizens are conscious of what are is going on.  

However, there are distinct disadvantages to this primary system.  Democratization can sometimes yield candidates that are unelectable or ill-suited to win the Presidency.  “The new rules permit liberal activists or little-known outsiders to capture the nominating process.”[6]  The voting rates in the primaries are low.

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  1. The Federalist Papers.  Clinton Rossiter, Editor.  Penguin Putnam Inc., 1961
  1. Presidency and the Political System.6th Edition. Michael Nelson, Editor.  Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2000.
  1. www.encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Federal%20Election%20Campaign%20Act
  1. www.indianchild.com/georgewashington.htm
  1. www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/features/netporn/amndmnts.htm
  1. www.televisionadvertising.com/faq.htm


[2] www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/features/netporn/amndmnts.htm

[3] The Presidency and the Political System, pg. 253

[4] The Federalist Papers, pg. 410

[5] The Presidency and the Political System, pg. 254

[6] The Presidency and the Political System, pg. 254

[7] The Presidency and the Political System, pg. 263


[9] The Presidency and the Political System, pg. 256


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