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tv   Political Experts Discussion on Stabilizing Democracy  CSPAN  November 30, 2021 9:02am-10:01am EST

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jackson is live at 10 a.m. on c-span 3. or watchful coverage on c-span now, our video app. >> hosting a conversation on democracy, improving trust and confidence in the electoral process. this is about an hour. >> hello, i'm matt, a fellow at the art street institute and i will be moderating our event today on losers consent. thank you for joining us. a few quick note before we get started as housekeeping items. i'd like to note for those of us joining us on zoom, we don't have a chat and no one will be monitoring that. and send us questions through the q & a feature on zoom or event@r if you have questions we'll get
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to those as time permits. we have a few guests so our time will be limited. my apology in chance if your question is not answered. that being said, we're also recording this event and so it will be available to share with others in the coming days, so if you had a question or wanted to clarify something that was said, i'd encourage you to find the recording and share it with your colleagues or take a listen back again to hear the discussion once more. finally, i'd like to point out that our discussion today is based on a recent paper that we released over at r, it's called restoring losers consent, a step to restoring our democracy. if you hadn't had a chance to look at it i'd encourage you to do so maybe after the event ends. if you're someone who can do two things at once, maybe go through it. so, with that said, i'd like to welcome everyone formally to our event today entitled losers consent. how do we stabilize our democracy. i'm a fellow at the governance
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program at r street institute. for those of you unfamiliar with our work at r street, we're a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy public research organization. that's what many folks might call a think tank. we have a mission to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free market and limited effective government. we believe that free markets work better than the alternatives and recognize that the legislative process calls for practice cal responses to current responses and that's why we hold our motto, and we focus on elections, how to make the elections more accessible and secure and reforms to rethink how our electoral position from officials. and the topic of over losers consent over the it would have panels. for those unfamiliar with us, you can find our paper on our
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policy website r and democracy relies on consent of the losers, following an election members of the losing site are the ones with incentives to rebel against the winning side and to keep a stable democracy, it must value more the institution of the government more than the control of the government. they must be willing to accept again at the election. we bring in our biases or experiences. we might consider ourselves the losers, but if you follow for any time you're bound to experience victory and defeat and over and over again. and that's why it's important we have a stable system in place to the losing side to consent to the authority of the winning side. this isn't just limited to candidates who succeed in an
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election, it includes all of us as voters and particularly from the losing coalition who recognize the authority of the victors. so with that being said. here is what we'll look forward to over the next hour. first, we'll talk to political scientist shaun bowler and scheduling stars align, which i think we will, we'll talk to todd donovan, co-authors of the book, and talk about high levels of losers consent and where it's at today and follow that up with a panel that brings onto ground experience with campaigns and alongside some of the brightest minds in electoral reforms and on the ground what can be done to make it easier for those who lose elections in the future to play again. so with that being said i'd like to introduce our first panel. we have with us at the moment shaun bowler, the dean of the graduate division at university of california riverside.
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he's a distinguished professor and the dean of the graduate division at the university and served as a member of the board of the american national elections studies as a member of the editorial board of ethical studies and journal politics and as president of the political science association and focused studies on the relationship between voters and institutions and representative democracy and has previously co-authored a number of books and articles on this subject. including the future is hours, minority politics, political behavior and the multi-racial era of american politics. the limits of electoral reform and reforming the republic. thank you for joining us. >> you're welcome, hello. >> so i'd like to start today by asking a bit about what inspired you to write the book on losers consent 2007 and at the same time if you can touch on defining what do we mean when we use the phrase like in losers consent or what did you mean by that phrase?
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>> and a number of international group, there were-- in montreal and-- it's a common concern across democracy. while a lot of attention is on the winner during election time, and in any contest you see, and-- the response to the losers turns out to be quite important in deciding whether or not the process could continue for another cycle or not, and to be able to have the idea they've lost the edge. so, it's an attempt to look at something comparatively that's common across the democracies and focus so much as perhaps they should be. >> great. and so i'd like to ask, with that in mind, why is this important? and in particular, does it seem important to you now that we sort of focus on losers consent in our current time? >> yeah, it does.
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the obvious immediate example for the 2020 election laws, and we can see that in a number of ways in which the people who lost are not quite ready to accept that and as a consequence of that, we see a number of different behaviors. for example, a whole series, and we also see a whole series of public opinion, which shows how angry people are, and how unwilling they are to accept and how unwilling to act on that anger. we saw that in january, that there are a lot of people very angry about their perception tied into that. and what we see currently in our politics is a whole bunch of activity that's of people not consenting to the law. one of the things i should say is, one what are the limitations of the study is, and i think we're moving into
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it now to look at more and more of what the consequences are. >> so i want to ask about that. because you mention areas in research having covered. it seems in my impression of the book, you know, it's almost 15 years old at this point, and was written in a time period in which vice-president al gore lost a contentious election and went to the supreme court and followed that with the supreme court's decision with a concession speech that effectively said i don't like the decision that was made, but i'm willing to accept it, i'm going to encourage folks to accept it for the stability of our country. and that as i read through the book, seemed to take the united states' ability to handle loss for granted and that things might have changed in that time period. i'll point out that in the paper that we have available on r, that i noted that there had been a bit after vicious cycle that's happened and that's not--
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if you look at an event like january 6th, it's not an isolated incident, that it took a series of steps along the way to get there and, you know, not to necessarily draw equivalencesies, but that we've had conversations over whether or not presidential candidates will accept the outcome of the election for four or five years in advance of the 2020 election, whether that was donald trump himself as a candidate, hillary clinton, even following the election, making claims that the russians were responsible and that perhaps trump's election wasn't legitimate, in the 2018 mid term, we saw a gubernatorial candidate refuse to concede and i believe still refuses to concede to this day, stacey abrams in georgia. and much of my argument to continue withholding consent. i'm wondering if you see it similarly, is this a vicious cycle problem, a series of
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steps? should we no longer be taking this subject for granted in the united states? >> well, there's a lot there to talk about. and if i talk too long, make the gesture. i think the -- a couple of things, one is, it really is unusual to see this happening in the u.s. in this sort of way, we're not used to it and for generations, political scientists were brought up on the idea that the u.s. is a model to the rest of the world. so in the-- in the ways of democratization, for example, that came off for -- america was the example, america constitution was the example and that turned out not to be the case and one of the things that happened, i think you're right. this isn't all donald trump and while it may mostly be the g.o.p., it's not -- there's a long history of polarization
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over the past generation and provides a background of willingness to accept a lot because the other side is so bad. if they had -- and what we've seen is, a whole series of examples for a long period, that have had people to expect that there's something wrong with our election. for example, one of the fallouts of the election is that yet another-- a big one after 2000, and that has been about there's something wrong with elections has been going on for 20 years pretty much. and you can see that in the state level, repeated examples of claims being made that the election is a fraudulent election, and so we have to do that, which means that the current situation is, is it does reflect the longer term
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over a long period of time and accompanied and growing polarization. >> and i'll note, too, we have todd donovan joining us as well. hi, todd, thank you. to give folks a brief introduction who he is. a professor of political science at washington western universities in australia, canada and great britain. a co-author of a number of books as well often alongside our guest and including representation, alternative elections and electoral reform and reforming the republic. and professor donovan himself an elected officials and serves on a council in washington. thank you for joining us. i'd like to give you a chance to-- i'll catch you up briefly and we were able to define losers consent and reflect quickly from the book in 2007. i'm wondering if your
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perspective all that's happened in the intervening 14, 15 years from the book, it's my view on reading the book that loser's consent was taken for granted at the united states at the time that that was written. do you agree with that characterization, and if so, either way, do you think it should be taken for granted now? >> in the-- i wouldn't say it was taken for granted. i think the book has a heavily comparative european focus in part because a lot of the data that we're working with was available, was more available in europe and the survey that we're doing. but i don't-- with the american stuff kind of didn't quite fit in with that, but, no, i don't think it was taken for granted. but i think, you know, kind of looking back on the book, if we were doing it again, we kind of measured some things that were fairly soft in terms of, you
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know, trust in government satisfaction with democracy and how losers have different attitudes on those sorts of things. i think what is maybe different now is the sort of concern about democratic deconsolidation or, you know, liberal attitudes among people. that's not something that we're able to get into enough. if we were doing it again, i think that that would be an area where we would probably want to look at and you know, with what sean said about concerns about electoral fraud, yeah, that goes back. remember, in 2000, it was democrats thinking the election system was wrong. in 2004 it was democrats thinking that. the ohio machine voting were rigged and republicans thinking that illegal voters were
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casting ballots. all of that stuff was going on before we even wrote the book so that sentence about mechanics of elections and cynicism about mechanics of elections, i think as much as that pre-dated when we started doing that, that's something that is, i think that's changed kind of structurally. so, not that we're going to write the book again, but if we did, we may want to look at. >> and then i'm curious, looking toward the future then, if you have thoughts and we'll go to each of you in turn, on what can be done to help ensure losers consent going forward. might paper outlined a few different options. each of which i will admit will have varying levels of impact and lift to implement. what i looked at were ideas that would allow for more proportional representation that voters feel like they'll
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have more impact, and you would have less or fewer losers as it turns out and that the stakes of losing won't feel as dramatic. flipping from with unside to the other it and a feeling that the direction of the policy of the country flipped with it, the consequences are high. and that can really add to the resentment of losing. and i also look at partisanship. and folks feel if they lost, they got a fair shake and that could help encourage them to participate in the future. i point out that there's really an opportunity to combat misinformation and myths about the election. and whether that's things like, you know, allegations that don't have any evidence to back them up. or things that everyone just, in my view, at this point, kind of takes for granted, like that there is an impact, a partisan impact on turnout. and so you'll see, elected officials promoting one reform or another as it was the intent to boost or hold back turnout
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thinking it would have a partisan impact and everyone seems to have bought into this. and looking at a softer factor, which is, you know, i think it's important for voters to demand more virtue from candidates, that candidates themselves need to show humility and defeat and graciousness in victory. i think there is a sore winners begets sore losers. and they're responsible for the character traits that they want out of their candidates and those are the things that i put forward as potential solutionings. feel free to reflect on those ideas or if you have anything else to bring forward. we'll start with todd this time. >> okay. in one of our recommendations was like a top five, top four, top five voting system and one of the books i did was called
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the limits of reform. and they're going to make people better engaged or in the political system and there's a lot of unfortunately about all of these things and often times, you know, they don't deliver in ways that their opponents sort of told them as, but i think there's a lot of promise with choice voting, not just in terms of how the voters changed their perceptions, but in terms of how campaigns are conducted. not that they'd be less polarizing or partisan, but making it appeal to their rival supporters, give me your second choice or third choice or something. >> i think there's a little bit of evidence, at least one paper i did, that people perceived less negativity in campaigns in the context. but i think that there's going to be some promise there and in a little, it could help from where we are. and the nonpartisan election
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administration and i thought a lot about that, like should elections in the state be elected or appointed and if they're elected should they run as nonpartisan or can you get like the secretary of state of washington is vetted for a top post for department of homeland security for election administration and she's a republican being appointed by the biden administration so that sort of not nonpartisan, but a cross partisan election administration, really helped. but at the end of the day, talking about sore winners or candidates needing virtues, the signal that people in office are probably the most important thing in terms of how people perceive the legitimacy of elections and how elections are concocted. so, you know, whether you're talking about secretary of state of georgia or the secretary of state of
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washington, that, you whatever their party is, they have to be if they're in a position of transparency and something that these people perceive as being nonpartisan. and not just the secretaries of state, but officials in general. that's the hardest. how do you get that virtue that you talk about and the candidates. we can think about the procedural reforms that will maybe soften some of the perceptions about elections being less than legitimate, but the end of the day, what are the winners and losers saying to their supporters. >> right. >> sean. >> yeah, i'm going to-- and i think that one of the things that strikes me the-- there's a lot of money to be made by fund raising on the issue of election fraud and a
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lot of campaigns among republican primaries on the election fraud. and there's a lot whose future is whose interest is perpetuating that there's something wrong and keeping stoking the fire. i mean, mike little, is that right, there are a bunch of election lawyers out there willing to take his money, yeah, we'll -- and this money is out there and i think that people need to recognize because for that and there's a lot of different things you can take and you know, institutional there, i think that's right. how big of a piece, i don't know. yeah, i think todd's right and it's quite promising and further the reform of the primary to open up might be helpful you know, right now
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candidates have no real threat in the primary so need to moderate the polarization of the primaries different ways and i'm hoping top two systems or a more open primary might help the end of the day it does depend on the-- on recognizing. and something else in a general cultural thing. we have this general disregard for good people in public office, people doing good things in public office, that's not helpful. and we're primed to believe. so i don't think that -- i do think we have to be cautious about the incentives for a lot of people, but not just candidates, lawyers, all group of people around the candidate to perpetuate this and so what that means is that probably
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takes action on a lot of different to do this one. and again -- i do think that these ones break down the-- break apart this idea that there are only two choices and so, i think, the choice over the primaries for proportional representation, those kinds of things will help break that down. >> thank you, i think that's a great point and i will note here as we start to approach the bottom of the hour, if folks have questions for us, feel encouraged to reach out by e-mail at events@r for most of us on zoom i believe our q & a function is live. so i do have another question and this might end up being the last one given the amount of time available to us and pending audience questions, you know, i don't want to spring you recent polling data that you may not have seen, pew
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research released democracy internationally and included the united states as part of the research whether or not folks felt satisfied with the way that democracy is working in their country and the results were not optimistic for the united states. roughly 60% of americans were not satisfied with the way democracy was working here. but at the same time, something like 85% of them believe that there's an opportunity for reform and that things need to be reformed and so i'm curious in your viewpoint, are the american-- are the american people ready for reform? or are we still in a place of-- in our present moment where we need to be holding tight and kind of waiting for the tide to turn? i don't expect many of us to have a crystal ball, but if we have a take on whether or not the american people have an appetite for reforms necessary
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and i'll start with shaun on this one. >> quick, think fast. i guess i'd say, i would think they're important so i'm free-wheeling here as we go. and it's know the surprising that people aren't happy, we're just coming out of a covid pandemic, and a whole things that went wrong last year. and i think the long legacy, i think, of george floyd, and i think there's a lot of events there that a lot of people of processing and ready for some things to change, both locally and now reaching local government, the government that back them. and as well as the bigger ones, and the economy. so it's not surprising that there's a taste changing
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things, i'm sometimes hesitant-- reform is oh, we're going to make things better as opposed to changing it. and there's a response changing it, whatever it is rather than making it better. a key thing becomes how do you accomplish that. and that depends on elected politicians, having a taste of reform that benefits the system and just doesn't benefit them. and, boy, there's not a lot evidence of that, whether we look at state houses or washington d.c. there's not a lot of evidence that the political is ready for-- >> and perhaps to be honest, maybe not a lot of incentive for them to see things that way. >> yeah, i think so. >> todd, i'll give you the last word here as we approach the bottom of the hour and shift out our panels. >> we had a similar one a couple of yers years ago, 60%
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of americans think that structural change is needed and the majority of republicans and democrats, they also found that people thought democracy in america was working okay, but that there was the structural things, taking about campaign reform or some things here that people seem to support and how do you get that to happen if it's, you know, people in office are the ones controlling changing rules, and you know, out west, some of these things get done through initiatives, you know, the redistricting, in a lot of states were adopted either by the threat of an initiative or actually buying an initiative. what do you think of term limits. so, there's-- or even, now, that might be the way that we plan to get the representation, and done by the ballot initiative and that's not the whole country. so, you know, i think, you know, the appetite is there.
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there's-- it takes advocacy groups educating the people about what some of the reforms are and takes kind of the opportunity of when you can even get that on the ballot. in terms of places that don't have direct democracy. that's harder and then you're counting on people winning under the current rules. i'm optimistic, whether there's democracy. >> that's good to here and i appreciate ending on a note of optimism here. and conversations we have around electoral structure and politics in the united states can be a bit do you remember. so -- they can be a bit dower. and we're going to the second panel, and flip your camera off and microphone to mute. if you're a part of the next panel, you're welcome to put your cameras on and flip your microphones on and give folks a
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reminder if they're joining partway through we're talking losers consent the idea that it's important not just for losing candidates, but also for their voters and coalitions to recognize the winners and their authority following an election, largely losers, and it's a harsh term to call folks losers but the losing side of the election needs to value the institution of government more than they value control of the government and that, in certain circumstances can be asking a lot. so, moving forward now to the second half of the panel, i'd like to bring in meredith, i'll introduce her first. a long time public affairs strategist with more than a decade of political markings and includes campaigns in more than a dozen states. among them arizona, florida, pennsylvania and virginia, she is a speech writer. has been a speech writer for
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wilbur ross and later the convention. meredith writes for political candidates and elected officials at her firm. and thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> right. >> i will introduce next, sara walker who is the executive director at the democracy. an election policy specialist and she looks at the legislative work and prior to that, sarah held various roles and frequently speaks to the media of a course of information and spokeswoman for democracy. the hill, business insider, dallas news, the atlanta constitution, the fulcrum, and many more outlets. and too many to name in this time. sara, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me.
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>> jason roberts, a professor specializing in american political institutions with emphasis on the u.s. congress, right now he is serving as a professor of political science at the university of north carolina at chapel hill. he earned his bachelors of poly-sci. and then prior to joining usc he was assistant professor of political science and law at university of minnesota. his research party and procedures in the u.s. congress and congressional elections. and working on a project that explores the role of ballot type on competitive elections in the united states. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, my pleasure. >> finally, our fourth panelist i'll introduce archer davis, a former united states from served 2003-2011 while he was successful in multiple campaigns in congress and provides a perspective as
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someone who fought in elections in alabama and i'm sure he's not the most fond about the memories, but valuable experience in the context of our conversation today. prior to his political career, archer earned his bachelors degree and juris doctor, and he-- following his career as an official, he returned to the practice of law in workplace discrimination. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> i'd like to start with a question for you, as a panel you have on the ground experience as a successful candidate and hard fought campaigns that didn't turn out the way you wanted them to. >> i'm wondering if you can speak to us about what it's like, you know, maybe taking a stab here, what it's like accepting defeat as a candidate
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and willing to try again in the future. two observations, matt, a great politician a long time ago said if you lose an election you'll get over the fact that you lost, other people never will. and that's i think most of us who have been through that experience say that's dead on. what i have learned as a candidate over time is that two sets of forces, i think, were at work and i'll quickly talk about them. that are perhaps different from when i first started thinking of running for office in the late 1990's. first of all, there wasn't a culture today across ideological lines, across any sort of partisan lines and post generational lines, there's a perspective that winners win and losers lose. and that perspective which donald trump had been into, some on the left feed into as well, has changed the nature of election outcomes. so, someone who loses an
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election today is enduring that experience in the midst of cultural identification of losing with weakness, of losing with a lack of ability. of an equation of losing with a lack of performance skills, and an equation of winning with skill, fortitude, determination, so when you hear sayings like refuse to lose or losing is not an option, that mindset is where the phrases come from. it's a theory, if you have the will, if you have the determination you will be successful. well, people from abraham lincoln to george w. bush to barack obama, to ronald reagan can tell you that's not so, and a talented groups of votes and all of them suffered significant political losses in their career. and the trend today that your previous panel touched on and we understand, politics today is the struggle between good
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and evil and you frame your opposition as evil. you frame your opposition as morally corrupt. so to lose now is to lose to corrupt forces and that's what feeds this notion, well, i can't concede defeat because i'm conceding the success of the corrupt forces on the other side. and it also creates sort of winners dancing in the end zone phenomenon because now winning means, i've beaten the forces of evil on the other side so i need not be magnanimous. i need not beyond a day or so be gracious. that double set of forces in our society that affect sports, by the way, it affects entertainment, it affects business and affects how we think about winning and losing in politics. >> i think that's right and i appreciate you come from alabama, a state that has a team that is known for winning and a state that has a team
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that is living in that shadow. [laughter] >> i don't know where you fall on that line, but you're right, i think it permeates across our can culture in more than politics and it can be a dangerous mindset as it helps to endable bad activity in the name of a good cause. you know, i apologize that we don't have too much time as we have quite a few panelists so we'll come back, i think, to a point you were making, but want to give meredith a chance to chip in here. meredith as i understand, you've served as a campaign staffer, specialize in talking to average people and talking to them about politics or speaking through another official as a speech writer. i wonder if you can share for us what it's like convincing voters to remain engaged, you know, particularly if you're kind of picking up after in a moment where they might have just gone through an electoral defeat and what, you know,
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separate now from the experience as a candidate, maybe look at it as someone who maybe understands the communication toward voters. >> sure, you know, there are no winners without losers, but there are also winners because many were at one time losers. and that's true whether you've engaged as a candidate, an elected official, a staff person or as a volunteer. you think about how many elected officials have lost had a race at some point in their political career and what they learned from that experience and again, whether you're a candidate, a staff person, a volunteer. you only need to know the feeling of losing a campaign once and knowing never to do it again, but there's a learning process that happens in a unique way when you lose and because of that, if you engage in a campaign again, you've done the work to kind of
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understand what you need to do differently, whereas, if you have this attitude i didn't actually lose, i won and it was stolen, you aren't taking that hard look at the things that you could have done differently and done better. and you know, i will say, having worked on a losing campaign myself, there is nothing more motivating than having gone through that experience and that's something that you take with you when you talk to voters and when you talk to volunteers and inspire them to pick up and work on the next campaign. >> thanks, and i'm curious as well then based on that experience, do your sense-- are voters as willing to jump back into the frey in our current moment maybe as in past experiences? is there a difference or a trend, thoughts along those lines?
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>> i think that time will tell. i noticed a lot of folks coming out during the stop the steal movement that had never once volunteered on a campaign. so hopefully the outcome, disappointing as it may have been for them, might motivate them to get engaged before the election happens rather than after the election happens when it's too late. >> right. i think that's a great point and i guess you're right. time will tell. and it does seem to be the like the political consultant or lawyer answer, we'll see. but i'll give you a pass because i think you're right. next i'd like to turn to john or sorry, why did i call you john? jason. can you can talk for a minute, i know in your economic career you've studied elections in congress and that, you know, the relationship between the two and how battle infrastructures and the resume'
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impact the way that officials act. i'm curious for your thoughts and i appreciate we've got about a five minute window to answer the question, and it's a big one, do you think it's possible under our current electoral systems that we can ensure consistent consent from electoral losers or do we need to make changes? >> well, i think we can. and we have. i do think there are some changes that we could make from your report, i think that the points you made that probably will have the most impact would be to move to the system where the person administering the election is not on the ballot. talk about the governmental race and i can't tell you what happened. it's a conflict of interest to have a candidate for office administering the election, now, the person could have the purist of intentions, but it's going to look bad no matter what we do. we could and should do more nonpartisan election administration, i think we also need to develop better
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candidate norms. i think that senator romney said this after the january 6th attack, what do we tell our voters? tell them the truth, that they lost and it's time to move on. you reference the al gore concession speech. i once called up all the last 40, 50 years of concession speeches to show to my students, this is in 2016 before the election, then candidate trump was saying that it's rigged. and i showed them the norm through, republicans, democrats, landslide elections, a gracious accepting of defeat. so we've had that before and in context of a system where election officials set the electoral rules and tried to do that in a way to advantage them, but tempered with the norm of you accept the jut outcome on then move on. >> i'm curious, candidates we have this norm to concede, presumably they, you know,
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whether the norm was just what we do, this is what we do or are they viewed there was incentive to concede. that the public would heap shame upon them if they didn't. if something changed. what kind of changed as far as the public's willingness to accept a lack of concession? >> well, i think it gets at what we've talked about earlier, with, you know, in political science what we now call effective partisanship, it's not that you care so much about your own side, but that the other side is evil. that there's something wrong about the other side and something to delegitimize and makes the behavior acceptable because you've lost it to an illegitimate actor, so then if you can view them as not a legitimate actor then you yourself don't feel as constrained by the norms of democracy and democratic competition. >> and i think that's
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unfortunate and again, kind of gets back to how do we help politics without go eth -- getting to the human element. us versus them. who comprises us and who comprises them and what separates us. >> sara, i know yours is looking at improvementing access to election and making sure that the results are trustworthy. i'm curious if we can keep the conversation going, suggesting, losers are willing to consent to winners. it's a big question and when you take a moment, i'll note for the folks joining us, our paper available over at r on this topic offers four possible options. we've got, you know, different electoral reforms like proportional voting or rent choice voting to give voters a
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different and perhaps more impactful say in who wins or just maybe to reduce the number of people who might identify as losers. we also look at ensuring nonpartisan election administrations and combatting myths about elections and demanding more virtues behavior from candidates and continue to hold you on pause there. and archer, i'd like to get back to how voters can demand virtues behavior from their candidates as someone who has served as a candidate and as a congressman. so i guess get ready for that question once sara answers, i'm wondering on your thoughts, what can we do as a particular reform to help assure losers consent? >> honestly, my first response is one of the things i'm most concerned about is is what's happening now. it's not necessarily a proactive policy. what we have to do is stop what's happening in the state
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legislators currently. to me, losers consent is further jeopardized as a result of the policies passed in state legislators and introduced for the 2020 sessions. these have been ranging from criminalizations from election administrators which is only going to i can ma them less likely to want to take those sorts of roles. and they range from civil penalties and civil rights of action with no burden of proof. and what most concerns me and keeps me up at night are the egregious, never ending elections that are spreading like wildfire. ichl i'm sure you've heard of the bill in texas fortunately has not passed, but where we're headed and why the state legislative actions need to be stopped in their tracks if we are going to get a look at the electoral reform that r street
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suggested. but the texas bill would be moving candidates or party officials to initial review just past elections, but future elections simply for losing and with no evidence of malfeasance or any burden of proof and this is particularly concerning not only because of the distrust that breeds among voters because it would have applied to primaries in addition to generals. so you can imagine the scenario in which on our most extreme elements in both sides, if both parties would be challenging primary votes and in the meantime, while those votes could be being recounted we're going into a general election, creating a poe essential system of chaos, but i think we all know this isn't just happening in texas and it's happening in swing states and happening in states like michigan, wisconsin, but also states like nebraska, montana and utah and this is despite the fact of clear electoral victories in
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those states. and these are things that are further developing further distrust and promulgating the conspiracy theories of disinformation while reassigning positions and beliefs, that are being used to weaponize and these policies are actually creating a hostile environment to what i would say are much needed electoral reforms. the other thing i would add, i think that professor donovan rightly noted that people received signals from elected officials, so if we're going to restore trust in democratic norms, it's critical that we not only consider legislative efforts that lay the foundation of losers to consent. we have to stop these now if we're going to be able to create the cross partisan collaborations and coalitions needed for the electoral reforms. and i think there's two just brief points i'll make is one, i also worry that and i guess it's still the unknown, i guess
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that this will change who wants to participate and what the motivations are for participating and the last thing is, i think we would all do better on electoral forms if we did not only exclusively focus on battle ground states and that we would perhaps focus on states like alabama, mississippi that don't always receive as much attention. >> thanks, and actually, i think there's something poetic, maybe that's not the right word, but something i appreciate about the idea that perhaps one of the better ways to restore trust in elections is to do nothing for a bit as far as reforms are concerned and kind of let things simmer and to let the heat kind of being turned down a little bit. archer i mentioned i wanted to come back to you around the candidates behavior. we've received a question in our question and answer box regarding what everyday folks can do to have an impact on improving our democracy. it's my take, even if you can't
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change election laws, individual voters do, as part after collective have an impact on the character of the candidates that they empower and i'm curious as a former candidate yourself, what your thoughts are on the ability of candidates to be held to account for their character, to signal to their voters, what kind of character factors are important and if you can speak to that issue for me. >> sure, i'll do that. and we have got to professionalize the administration of elections. in too many communities around the country, the people who count the ballots, process the absentees and professionalals are heart core partisans, they are not neutrals in any way, shape or form and the same way with the world series starts tonight in houston we're not going to allow atlanta to designate half the umpire and
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houston to designate half the umpires, we need a notion of neutral people who are not political operatives or political hacks, frankly, running elections community by community. as far as voter the-- make a change. here is what is at the root of that. today, if you decline to recognize legitimacy of the other side, you're rewarded for that by your political base. your political base will say, this is a person of courage, this is a person of principle. we are going to have to change the nature of what people value in politics. made the point somewhere in the last 25 years, we've gone from a world where highly capable people who are able to think imaginatively and creatively will issues or being the stars of their party to a world where to be a star now, means you need to have a loud voice and
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project that loud voice and that's part of being up and coming politician now. do you have the capacity to project yourself? well, we've got to change the incentive structure by moving to a world where, a, competence matters, where experience matters, where demonstrating track matters. and we have too many people running for office who pretend to care about issues they know nothing about. >> and we have to move back to whether or not people can show they can do a job. and unfortunately, the world in high office is one high quality positions in america where resume's don't matter or credentials don't matter. if you change that underlying foundation all of the issues we talked about today will eventually change. >> great, thank you. and i'd like to kind of keep
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our around the horn field going to meredith again. give you a chance to what you might have heard from fellow panelists and in particular some thoughts you might have around some of our best opportunities to ensure greater consent from losing voters. >> and one thing that sara pointed out earlier lightly is that something's got to give and todd made a great comment in the first session when he said that campaigns have to operate appropriately. and his question of how do you instill that virtue in candidates to be able to win or lose graciously. and there is a responsibility that in some ways lies with the staff and consultants as well to prepare a candidate for the potential of both outcomes. certainly, there's a balance there, operationally, you want to keep your focus as a campaign operative on doing what it takes to win for as long as possible.
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but if you've done everything right, optionally, election day is believe it or not a pretty slow day in the campaign office, so, the night before, the day of, both of those are great opportunities to have that at times challenging conversation and say, listen, you know, things look optimistic, but let's stay humble. let's be prepared with two speeches just in case things don't break our way and let's also be prepared to win or to concede graciously. unfortunately, i think that some of the people in the president's circle were afraid to approach the president with that reality and that's ultimately, in my opinion, partly attributable to the horror that we saw on january 6th. >> yeah, i think that's a good point and yeah, i mean, it does tickle me someone who dabbled a bit in campaigns how slow to
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election day they can be. but most folks do not see it that way. jason, i want to come back to you, i know you've now had a chance to listen to all the panelists and give you a little bit of an open floor to provide response to that, but i'd like to bring up a question brought up in the q & a related to what americans can learn from other countries, perhaps, that, you know, the united states, i bra ut up this poll in the first half of our discussion today, that americans are not satisfied with the state of democracy. this is a poll from last week from pew research and that they see that there's a real opportunity for reform. but on the other hand we have countries around the world that have broad support for democracy in their country and are satisfied with what they're doing. and switzerland, folks feel like they can trust their government and the pew poll brought up netherland, new
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zealand and a few other countries. i'm curious, both to reflect on what we've heard or share what we might learn from other countries. >> yeah, to reflect on what we've heard i think i'd like to tie together t.o. points that mayor lit -- two paints that meredith, it takes thousands of people to work on elections, work on election day, i'm on the local elections board on the county we run 45 pop-up business as couple of days a year, it's a massive undertaking and you know, most of the people doing that are very professional, very hardworking, i think if you could get people to care about parties, to get involved in this, they might see this process. and i recall last november when we were sitting in the elections board late at night counting absentee ballots, one of my republican colleagues looked at me after an hour and a half chasing down a missing ballot.
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she said you know, it would be really, really hard to commit voter fraud given the processes in place. and that's true, we need to share that with people. with meredith's points, people get engaged before the election and see how the processes work and you'd feel better about it, and fewer people questioning the outcome if they look at the controls and quality in the elections. i'm not an expert on comparative politics and don't want to speak out of school about other countries and what we could learn from. if we made more attention on the front end and didn't see it as a horse race and better about the outcomes. >> sara, i'll come back to you, we have a couple of minutes left here and since you were the last to go in the first group, you may, you know-- >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in for the day. senate lawmakers will resume consideration of the annual defense programs and policy bill and later in the week, we expect the senate, along with the house, to take up
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legislation to extend funding past friday's midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown. live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, who protects us like a mighty fortress. thank you for providing our lawmakers with your wisdom, guidance and strength. lord, continue to bless them for you know their needs, motives, hopes, and fears. when our


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