Abstract

Abstract:

The Democratic Party faced a crisis of political legitimacy in the late 1960s as distrust and protest permeated its electoral base. In response, the Democratic National Committee established the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection, tasked with restructuring the party's presidential nomination process. Contrary to the conventional historical narrative of the McGovern-Fraser Commission that has focused on a supposed displacement of the party's old guard by radical insurgents, this article instead argues that the main impetus for reform came from national party leaders seeking to build up the legitimacy and authority of the National Committee. Commission Chair George McGovern and the DNC used a particular reform rhetoric that charged state parties with the corruption of the political process, necessitating rescue by an empowered national party. This focus on the nationalizing impulses behind McGovern-Fraser serves to shift our attention away from ideological struggles and toward institutional motives.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1528-4190
Print ISSN
0898-0306
Pages
pp. 1-24
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-11
Open Access
No
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