The GOP’s options for getting rid of Moore are all potentially undemocratic

Option No. 1: Change the date of the election

The idea here: Move the election back to early next year, giving the GOP more time to pressure Moore to drop out and allowing the party space to get its act together with a new candidate. (Alabama law allows a candidate to be replaced on the ballot if they withdraw at least 76 days before the election.)

Objections to this option (which doesn’t seem likely to happen anyway) rest on a particular idea about democracy: That it is primarily about rules and structures. Changing the rules mid-game — particularly postponing an election when the dominant party might lose — violates those principles. According to this approach, when you assess the strength of a democracy, you shouldn’t rely too much on whether the results represent the public’s preferences faithfully as long as the rules are clear, fair and consistent. The U.S. Constitution is highly compatible with this view; the Constitution emphasizes institutions and processes over any specific principle or vision of government. Pushing the Alabama election back wouldn’t violate any specific provisions, but it would challenge the rule of law that forms the Constitution’s philosophical basis.

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