Most of the liberals across the country – particularly in the media – are all in favor of “punishing” Republicans in public office. But they tend to limit their ambitions in these areas to the idea of voting them out of office. Or, in the case of the President, removing him sooner via impeachment. This is seen in some quarters as accountability.
Today, however, I’m looking over a more unique suggestion, brought to us by Matthew Sears at the Washington Post. Sure, it’s all well and good to talk about holding elected officials accountable. But what about the voters who sent them to office? Shouldn’t there be some way to hold their feet to the fire and exact some retribution for their poor decision-making skills? (I realize this sounds like something from the Onion, but bear with me. It’s actually serious.)
Sears begins by asking the question, “Democracies give power to the people — does anyone hold the people responsible for this power? He then goes into a lengthy analysis of the history of democratic forms of government, most of which you’re free to skip over. But we finally get to the payoff in the final three paragraphs of the article. How exactly are we going to hold Republican voters responsible for the evil they have unleashed on the land? (Sears attempts to make this sound like a generic argument, but when listing examples, he’s talking specifically about Republicans. The Democrats apparently never err in selecting elected officials.) Here’s the money shot. (Emphasis added)
But missing in both Athens democracy and our democracy today, is the question of how to hold regular citizens more accountable for their electoral decisions, too. Formal, legal accountability is out of the question, but is moral accountability too much to ask? All politicians fall short in fulfilling their promises, or neglect to fulfill them altogether. Yet, when politicians do exactly what they promised they would do — say, cracking down on migrants in cruel ways, or stoking anti-Muslim sentiment — can we not hold those who voted for them morally accountable to a certain degree?
Too often, we see supposed moderate Republicans, most of whom really voted for Trump, throw up their hands in the face of Trump’s excesses, and evade suggestions that they should take a lead role in resisting Trump, including at the ballot box. We should challenge such duplicity early and often. I’d go so far as to say we should call out our otherwise pleasant relatives who support odious candidates. Have an aunt who voted for Steve King? Let her know that she enables white supremacy. After all, if voters have great power — which they do, at least on paper — it follows they should also share at least some responsibility for what those they elect do.
Well, it’s good to see that Sears isn’t looking for “legal accountability,” presumably in the form of rounding up Trump voters and throwing them in prison. (Well, at least not yet, anyway.) So he’s just looking for “moral accountability.” You don’t need to go much further in the article to understand what he’s talking about. Have an annoying, conservative aunt who voted GOP? Start berating her. You obviously won’t change her mind, but at least you might be able to stop her from showing up for Thanksgiving dinner.
This is nothing new. All Sears is doing here is trying to take credit for the public gang behavior that poutraged liberals have already been engaging in when they attempt to chase conservative public figures out of restaurants or other public spaces. The unoriginal twist here is the suggestion that such mob rules be applied to individual voters.
But remember, everyone. Republicans are mean. Democrats are the party of the nice people.