Karl Rove’s thought experiment

Karl Rove’s column yesterday is noteworthy for its strong condemnation of his fellow Republicans who refuse to condemn the attempt at election subversion perpetrated last January 6. It is especially valuable for its invocation of a device that is essential when any of us, given our own partisan feelings and affiliations, strive to determine what fair electoral competition requires from an impartial perspective: what if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak, and roles were reversed?

Here’s how Rove does it in this particular context: “What if in early January 2017, Democrats similarly attired and armed had stormed the Capitol and attempted to keep Congress from receiving the Electoral College results for the 2016 presidential election?” He elaborates from there, but you get the basic idea. His conclusion: “If Democrats had done what some Trump supporters did on that violent Jan. 6, Republicans would have criticized them mercilessly and been right to do so.”

And the implications of this conclusion: “There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.”

Kudos to Rove for saying this. In the days, weeks, and months ahead every incumbent Republican should be measured by whether they can meet Rove’s test, including whether they are willing to support electoral reforms tailored to preventing the kind of electoral subversion that Rove so rightly and forcefully condemns.

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