The NYU Law Review’s recent symposium examining the case for redesigning the US presidential nomination process featured a keynote by Bill Bradley, the former US senator from New Jersey who lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Al Gore in 2000. Other participants were Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel in the Obama administration; Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law Richard Pildes; Benjamin Ginsberg, who was national counsel to the Bush-Cheney and Romney-Ryan presidential campaigns; and Donna Edwards, a former US representative for Maryland. Topics included primary election structures; voter engagement and participation; and the roles of parties, candidates, new forms of political organization, and the media in US democracy.

Bill BradleyIn his keynote, Bradley focused on problems with and potential solutions to the current nominations process. Stressing the importance of increasing voter participation, he advocated changing the caucus process to a secret ballot, altering the primary calendar, and holding presidential primaries and general elections on weekends. “Instead of Sunday night football scores, you’d be listening to Sunday night election results,” he said, “and working people would no longer have to choose between working and voting.”

Bradley decried voter suppression efforts and other distorting elements made possible by the infusion of money from wealthy donors. He also pressed for challenging the “two-party duopoly” that, he argued, has precluded any serious third-party presidential candidate since 1912.

“We need a robust presidential nominating process that respects the people,” said Bradley, “not the Rube Goldberg approach of today…. You have to break the grip of billionaires’ money serving billionaires’ visions of what America should be. Millions of Americans are denied the chance to vote for an independent, even though independents would perhaps be able to escape the clutches of the most extreme elements of each party, which produce political paralysis and citizen disillusionment. I think it’s time to clean up our democracy, so let’s begin with the nominating process itself for president.”

Watch the full video of Bill Bradley's keynote (47 min):

Posted November 16, 2017