The Republican Plot Against the Popular Will - 2019-11-08
Democracy's central principle is that the people should decide their own future by electing their own leaders. A growing number of conservatives disagree. Take this week's off-year elections, for example. Kentucky Republicans won five out of the six statewide races on Thursday. Steve Beshear, the Democratic candidate for governor, was the only exception. His 5,000-vote margin of victory over incumbent Republican Matt Bevin was surprising but not shocking. While Bevin had a modest lead in polls ahead of Election Day, he was also a distinctly unpopular figure in the state. Until last month, Bevin ranked as the most unpopular governor in the country with a 32 percent approval rating.
Local GOP leaders have not accepted Beshear's victory. Bevin himself refused to concede on Election Night, citing unidentified "irregularities" in the voting process, and called for a recanvassing of polling places. Robert Stivers, the president of the Kentucky Senate, told reporters that the Republican-held legislature might decide the outcome instead. (A vague provision in the state's constitution lets lawmakers intervene in disputed gubernatorial elections.) According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Stivers made the dubious claim that most of the votes received by the Libertarian candidate would have gone to Bevin and made him the winner.
It's unclear whether state lawmakers will embrace this strategy; some Kentucky Republicans have already expressed reservations about it. That it's being discussed at all speaks to a deeper problem on the American right. From President Donald Trump to state-level GOP candidates to local Republican Party officials, conservatives are declaring themselves as the only legitimate political actors in the American democratic system. And when faced with the choice of conservative governance or the popular will, they've signaled that they'll choose the former over the latter.