Thomas Sowell

Back in the bad old days of the smoke-filled rooms, people with a long-term stake in their party had to take into account what the American public at large wanted, because that would determine who would actually get elected to the White House and the Congress, who in turn would then decide who would be put on the federal courts across the land, including the Supreme Court.

It is by no means clear that "the people" voting in primaries have made better choices than those made in the smoke-filled rooms. More important, those who regard the present system as sacrosanct don't even want to make such a comparison.

It is questionable whether any of the three candidates still viable in the Republican or Democratic Parties would have been chosen by either party if those with a long-run stake in the future of those parties had made the decision.

All three candidates have a lot of baggage.

Nevertheless, no one dares change the rules in the middle of the game. The big question, however, is whether either party's leaders will have the courage to change the rules after this fall's election.

Back in 1944, the Democratic Party's leaders, knowing that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in such frail health that he was not likely to live out his next term, decided that the choice of vice presidential nominee was too important to let go by default to the current vice president, Henry Wallace.

They proposed that little-known Senator Harry Truman be put on the ticket instead, and FDR went along with it. You would have to know what a dingbat Henry Wallace was to realize how the smoke-filled room saved this nation from disaster.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate