reclaiming the label "republican"

Glenn Reynolds puts the lefty reactions to the recall in context by explaining just what it means to be a republican:

Recalls aren�t anti-democratic. They are, if anything, anti-republican � by which I mean that they�re inconsistent with the �republican principle� of representative government over direct democracy. (It�s ironic, isn�t it, that at the moment the main champions of this republican principle are Democrats?) And representative government, for reasons that Madison, et al., spelled out in The Federalist, is a good thing.

But it�s not the only good thing. A danger faced by all governments � including representative governments � is the danger that they will be taken over and paralyzed by what economist Mancur Olson, in a famous book titled The Rise and Decline of Nations, called a �web of special interests.� Because it pays for special interest groups and politicians to collude, lining their pockets at the taxpayers� expense, Olson argued that nations � and perhaps especially representative ones � would tend toward paralysis over time, as special interest groups locked up government revenues and fought off changes

Note however that the general reaction to the Arnold victory from committed Democratic partisans (a group I don't share allegiance with, only immediate short term goals) has been a condescension towards anyone who voted for recall or for Arnold as fools unworthy of enfranchisement. After all, their crime was to vote the "wrong" way. That arrogance is fundamentally at odds with the view that the people are sovereign, and is regrettably a side-effect of republican political theory.

The US constitution strikes a great balance between republican and representative governments. The Electoral College is a quintessentially republican idea - since they are not elected, but appointed by people who are themselves elected - and are not bound to vote in favor of the plurality winner. The US House of Representatives is directly elected by the people, and acts as their direct spokesman. The Senate was actually also supposed to be a republican entity, or rather a representative entity for the States. However with the adoption of the 17th Amendment, that has been undermined, and this has directly led to the increased influence of "the web of special interests" as described by Olson on the political process.

It's a shame that Democrats have reacted to the recall with republican fervor - if anything, a recall is the kind of representative governmental action that they should support in principle (remember Hillary Clinton's call to repeal the Electoral College? at least she's consistent). However what's much worse is that the Republican Party has moved so far away from it's own roots in federalism and republicanism. As Kevin Drum points out, the GOP has become the party of American Shari'a - and the true conservative republicans are in a vanishing andincreasingly irrelevant minority.

For much more info on the 17th Amendment, I suggest this CNN article and this website.

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