The potential advantage for Democrats with a ‘smoke-filled room’

The Democratic Party is experiencing a compound panic attack.

Concerns are mounting among Democrats that President Biden is headed for inevitable defeat in November due to doubts about his age and declining mental acuity among the electorate.

If Biden were to step down, worries then shift to the perceived weakness of Vice President Kamala Harris as a candidate, leading to fears of chaos and potential disaster if both Biden and Harris were replaced on the ticket.

Despite the valid concerns, Democrats are apprehensive about the potential chaos and division within the party that could arise from replacing both candidates at this late stage in the election cycle.

However, instead of fearing the unknown risks, an open convention could be seen as an opportunity to positively change American politics for the better.

A look back at history reveals that the last time a Democratic convention selected a nominee from scratch was in 1952, when Adlai Stevenson was chosen through backroom maneuvering in “smoke-filled rooms.”

Returning to the old method of selecting a nominee in this manner could potentially help address the dysfunction and polarization seen in modern politics.

The reforms made post-1968 using popular-vote primaries have resulted in a political landscape where a majority of Americans dislike candidates from both parties.

By revisiting the traditional method of selecting candidates, Democrats have the chance to reverse this decline and generate excitement for a new face in November.

Even without actual smoke-filled rooms, Democrats should consider the possibilities for change and improvement without being burdened by past mistakes.

Steven F. Hayward is the Edward Gaylord Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.

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