Matt Germer for R Street: “Get in Loser, We’re Going to Vote: A Policy Study on Losers’ Consent”
The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was not an isolated incident; rather, it was the culmination of the ongoing degradation of our political culture. A successful democracy relies upon the consent of its losers—both voters and candidates—but over the last two decades American political losers have increasingly refused to consent to the winners. For our democracy to persist, we must overhaul our political culture and develop greater consent from electoral losers.
In a new policy study, Matthew Germer, resident elections fellow at the R Street Institute, finds that losing candidates and their voters have become more likely to withhold consent over the past five years. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Stacey Abrams have all demonstrated the impact of floating illegitimacy conspiracies or even refusing to concede following an election. Meanwhile, the parties have become more ideologically narrow and voters have developed greater antipathy toward their rivals. The result is a toxic political culture that encourages losers to withhold consent.
“A culture in which losers readily offer consent is difficult to develop and may be impossible to restore once it is lost. Nevertheless, the American experiment relies upon securing losers’ consent, and we must do everything we can to ensure it is readily given,” says Germer.
He concludes that in order to stabilize our democracy, we must make reforms that increase buy-in from losers. This includes electoral reforms such as ranked-choice or proportional voting; a restoration of trust in elections by reducing partisan influence in election administration, combatting disinformation and dispelling election myths; and creating a healthier political culture by demanding more virtuous behavior from candidates.
Very glad to see my former student Matt Germer working on these issues!