Three Points of Agreement on Democracy Protection
As Walter Olson has noted, one of the beneficial aspects of this Guardrails of Democracy project organized by the National Constitution Center is the considerable common ground shared by the three separate teams, each approaching the topic independently from different philosophical perspectives. This convergence on some core beliefs about what’s essential for safeguarding democracy at this moment of peril might even be characterized as the kind of “overlapping consensus” that John Rawls argued was necessary for political liberty, equality, and democracy to exist under conditions of philosophical pluralism.
In an effort to further this spirit of conciliation, I will identify three additional points of agreement concerning our mutual goal of safeguarding democracy from the forces that presently threaten it in the United States:
Broaden as Wide as Possible the Democracy-Protection Coalition
Walter worries that use of the terms “Big Lie” and “election denialism” are counterproductively off-putting, alienating conservative-minded and Republican-affiliated “ordinary” citizens who otherwise could be recruited to the democracy-protecting cause. Walter offers “election fabulist” as a less objectionable label for the same “incredibly dangerous” phenomenon. I’m happy to pragmatically use the more diplomatic term if that will help achieve the objective of preventing the repudiation of valid election outcome by partisans who simply refuse to accept defeat.
Moreover, this kind of terminological restraint is an instance of a more general point: even if “electoral skepticism” (how’s that for an even more diplomatic phrase?) over the outcome of the 2020 election is utterly unwarranted based on all the evidence, as Bill Barr among others have observed, it would be wise to consider bolstering those procedures that would help convince election skeptics of the validity of vote totals in the future. Thus, measures to make the process even more transparent and less vulnerable to misinformation—like counting mailed ballots quickly and permitting robust observation of the counting process by representatives of the competing candidates and political parties—should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.
Still, there is a limit to this strategy. If Donald Trump and/or some of his allies attempt to repudiate the valid outcome in any of the hotly contested midterm elections, in the same way that Trump attempted to negate his 2020 loss to Joe Biden, it will be necessary to oppose that effort at election subversion with all the forces available to defenders of democracy. It will not be a moment for linguist
Article from Reason.com