A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Republics depend upon elections for choosing their leaders.  Here is something that must happen if elections are to be trusted to do that job.  Losing parties have to believe they can compete again in the future, on a level playing field, with a realistic chance of winning.  If they don’t believe this, here are their options.

  • The losing party can reinvent itself to become more attractive to more voters.
  • The losing party can try to make it harder for their opposition to vote, and harder for their opposition to succeed in legislating.
  • The losing party can undermine the credibility of the election system. 

The first option lets us keep our republic.  What happens with the other two options? If they go too far, too long, then the United States could easily slip into regular bouts of election violence. That outcome would put us in the same league as many third-world illiberal democracies.

The burden shouldn’t be totally on the losing party. 

  • The winning party could act to lower the stakes. CFFAD is concerned that the Office of the President has accumulated too much power over the last several decades.  So much so that losing the presidency appears to outweigh substantial victories at the state and local levels. 
  • The winning party can also work with the losing party to do whatever is required to reassure everyone concerned that future elections will indeed be free and fair.  Evidence is one thing, belief is another.  There is room for improvement. Electoral integrity in the US, while generally strong, was the lowest among 24 western democracies.  We can do better.

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