David Broder, who died in 2011, was arguably the most admired political reporter of his generation, especially among his journalistic peers. He combined excellent judgment, unflagging energy and a fundamental decency that nobody who knew him could miss. I was a member of the fan club myself.
But one element of Broder’s persona always puzzled me: He had an unshakable belief in the ultimate wisdom of the American electorate. “The voters,” he often said, “are way ahead of the politicians.” In the heat of an election season, while other reporters were trading gossip with consultants and campaign managers, Broder would trudge down the residential streets of obscure American towns, knocking on doors and asking ordinary citizens for their opinions. He always emerged from these forays with his populist sympathies intact.