Danny Westneat, writing for The Seattle Times, attributes a recent effort to recall Washington Governor Jay Inslee to conservatives refusing to accept the 2020 election results. The article cites increased numbers of recall efforts across the country, from dog catcher to governor, and conveniently dismisses them all as conservatives refusing to accept election results. In the case of Inslee, Westneat even quotes the reason from the recall petition. Trouble is, according to Westneat, the petition doesn’t call the election results into question. He must find it disappointing that the sources he cites don’t support his conclusion.
Inslee won the 2020 election by a margin of over a half-million votes. No credible evidence has been brought forward that indicates the election was rigged (despite the claims made by his opponent). The petition Westneat cites lists Inslee’s abuse of authority and failure to protect citizen’s rights as reasons for the recall effort.
While Inslee won a convincing majority of the popular vote, he lost in 27 of Washington’s 39 counties (he won in 12 of 39). The simple political reality here in the state of Washington is that the four most populous counties in western Washington dictate the outcome of every statewide election. No politician running for statewide office gives a damn about the rights or wants of the people in those 27 counties, and it shows.
The reasons for the petition to recall Inslee revolve around his orders and actions regarding the COVID pandemic, not the election. Reasonable people can disagree about whether or not those orders and actions were correct, reasonable, necessary, prudent, and legal. But it is indisputable that those actions and orders violated the rights of every citizen of the state. Businesses were forced to close, workers sent home, churches closed, and travel was restricted. It is impossible to argue that citizen’s rights were not violated. At the same time, Inslee did not lift a finger to stop the riots and looting. He did absolutely nothing to protect the rights and property of people living and working within the “CHOP” zone in Seattle.
Is it possible the recall effort has nothing to do with the last election? I wonder.
Writing in Substack, John Ganz accuses conservatives of being anti-democratic. I must concede that Ganz makes a powerful argument and quotes some prominent conservative writers. Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote a well-thought-out rebuttal in National Review the following day.
However, in his entire essay, Ganz devotes but a single line to balancing majority will against the rights of the minority. He never uses the phrase “tyranny of the majority.” He does not point out any of the dangers of pure democracy, and he conveniently leaves out the fact that we are not a democracy but a representative republic. No, Ganz distills such notions down to a single sentence: “Some measure of minority protection is necessary to have a liberal democracy.”
Dougherty, in his rebuttal, warned against dismissing Ganz’s entire essay out of hand. I find it difficult not to. Conservatives are not so much anti-democratic as they are pro-individual. The majority has some power, but only so much, and only in so far as such power does not trample over the rights of the individual and/or the minority. When we talk of protecting rights, what exactly are we protecting them from? The majority. After all, if everyone ever elected to govern was unwaveringly devoted to the protection of those rights, we would not need a Bill of Rights.
Pure democracy is little (if at all) removed from mob rule and unfortunately over the last year or so, we have not had to look far to see what a mob looks like (Seattle, Portland, Milwaukee). Ganz says nothing about the possibility that the majority might be wrong. What if the majority wanted to establish concentration camps or government-issued travel permits? What if a majority wanted to do away with privacy rights? How would Ganz feel about a weekly warrantless search of his home by the government? One would have to conclude he would welcome it if the majority wanted it that way.
Ganz accuses conservatives of being anti-democratic for simply upholding the ideals of the Constitution. This says much more about Ganz and the Democrats than it does about conservatives. Ganz is interested in “some measure” of protection to “have a liberal democracy”, but (apparently) is not the slightest bit concerned about the formation of an illiberal mob.
If you want to know how conservatives think, why they hold the ideals they do, why they say what they say, and why they vote the way they do; whatever you do, don’t ask a conservative (just make it up).
Danny Westneat, “Now an Inslee Recall? Some People Just Can’t Quit The Last Election”, Seattle Times, 5/19/21
John Ganz, “Are Republicans Still democrats?”, Substack, 5/20/21
Michael Brendan Dougherty, “Conservative Notes on Democracy”, 5/21/21