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The party decides, unless it doesn’t , in which case it’s still deciding



Or something. Seth Masket:

It would be one thing if the Republican Party had settled on Jeb Bush (or anyone else) and was proving unable to get him across the finish line. But that’s not what happened. Instead, the party simply hasn’t decided. There will likely be all sorts of internal party reform discussions after this year, questioning the party’s system of selecting presidential nominees. But the fact remains that the party has a pretty good system for selecting nominees, and it declined to use it this year. As Julia Azari suggests, the party just decided not to decide.

I haven’t read The Party Decides, but everything I’ve read about the book leads me to believe that it would be hard to produce a more straightforward counter-example to its thesis than Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination. In other words, if that thesis is roughly “party elites will work successfully to ensure that a candidate who is acceptable to those elites will get the nomination,” then arguing that the theory isn’t undermined by a failure of elites to coalesce around an acceptable alternative to an unacceptable candidate — because in that situation the party is “deciding” not to decide — comes close to constructing a theory that isn’t open to dis-confirmation. (Masket isn’t one of the book’s authors, so it shouldn’t be assumed they would accept his description of the applicability of the book’s thesis to the current GOP race).

Masket does acknowledge that Sanders winning the Democratic nomination would contradict The Party Decides‘ thesis.

Again I haven’t read the book, but in the grand tradition of legal academia I will helpfully re-characterize its thesis anyway: In a minimally functional contemporary major American political party, the party decides. In other words, if the current GOP is in the process of actually falling apart, then that would explain why Trump seems to be on the way to winning the nomination.

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