Direct democracy played an important role in the 1912 campaign. This Harper's Weekly cover for June 8 suggests one reason for its importance: Roosevelt. (Harper's Weekly was a Democratic magazine editorially, although its editor, George Harvey Smith, did not support Wilson before his nomination.)
Roosevelt came out squarely for the Initiative, the Referendum, and the Recall during his quest for reelection. (Roosevelt's opponents, like the editors of Harper's Weekly liked to brand him with the "third term" label, although TR had only once been elected President.)
Roosevelt's call for judicial recall in his speech to the Ohio constitutional convention in 1912 had sealed his break with Taft. Taft, and the Republican leaders generally, opposed Direct Democracy.
This cartoonist in the Republican magazine Judge, May 11, 1912, observed how the Recall had been the wedge that had split off many progressives. (This wedge divided the party before the raucous Chicago Republican Convention, and Roosevelt's bolt from the party to form the Progressive Party.)
|Having popular primaries for the nomination of candidates was also part of the movement for direct democracy. Primaries promised to reduce the influence of professional politicians, who reformers saw as too often corrupt. Primaries would allow Americans to rid themselves of "boss" politics. Roosevelt advocated direct primaries for choosing delegates to the Republican convention in 1912, counting on his popularity to win support, wresting it away from the established Republican politicians who the incumbent President controlled. This cartoon, scanned from the Democratic Puck April 10, 1912, shows Taft's ambivalence about primary elections for choosing convention delegates:|