There are three equal and seemingly contraditory critiques I frequently make of our system:
1) The fact that the media and the mysterious “Party bosses” basically pick candidates (e.g., everyone knew in 2007 that 2008 would be Obama v. McCain).
2) The fact that we don’t use the party system and the electoral college the way they were intended. Parties were originally literally “parties”: people would gather at salons to discuss politics. Candidates would go to those meetings, and people would vote based upon character and knowing the candidates. Since it was impossible for everyone in the country, even then, to personally meet even the candidates for US Senate, much less President, Senators were elected by state legislatures and Presidents by the electoral college. We’re also supposed to be “parties” in the sense of emphasizing common cause.
3) That Socrates said democracy can only work by conscription.
Let’s put all those together.
We live in an age when anyone can talk to anyone through email or social media. Delegates should not be mysterious figures but people we know. Voters should have to join the parties they want to support and meet the delegates who will represent them.
Imagine if candidates did old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing, or its online equivalent (not these annoying spam messages).
Most importantly, imagine if, instead of sniping at each other with negative campaining and “debates,” candidates had to focus on their credentials and their positions. What if all voting was based upon ISidewith.com and a simple resume? And then, what if the primary gave options for where you’d like a candidate to serve, so for example, Ben Carson as Surgeon General or Secretary of HHS; Carly Fiorina as Secretary of the Treasury; and so on. People would choose the candidates they felt were truly best qualified and best representing them, while also voting or the cabinet roles. Then, when the general election comes along, it would be a unified alliance versus a bitter, divided group of factions reluctantly voting for the “lesser evil.”