In 1998 Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was taking grand jury testimony from White House staffers and members of the Clinton administration about their knowledge of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Each time one of them finished testifying before the grand jury they would come out of the courthouse and give a statement to the press saying they testified to having no knowledge of any affair between Clinton and Lewinsky.
When the Starr Report was finally made public, we learned that all those people who claimed in public they had no knowledge of any affair were saying the exact opposite when placed under oath. Under penalty of perjury these people were testifying that, contrary to what they told the public, they knew all about the affair and detailed their role in helping to cover things up.
The Clinton team was playing a game with the American people, trying to establish a narrative of innocence and sway public opinion in their favor before the truth came out, knowing that most people never bother to dig past the headlines and actually read the reports or grand jury transcripts.
In 2020 I see the exact same thing going on with the Trump campaign and its efforts to claim massive voter fraud in the country. There is a concerted effort to maintain a narrative in the public perception that the election was stolen, but when Trump attorneys are standing in front of a judge, all talk of fantastic conspiracy theories and massive election fraud is never discussed. In case after case Trump’s attorneys refuse to allege fraudulent votes, much less provide evidence of such fraud, and instead ask for hundreds of thousands of votes to be invalidated on the slimmest of technicalities.
If Trump’s campaign and his lawyers are unwilling to make these claims of fraud in front of a judge under penalty of perjury, it should tell you something about whether they really believe the tale they are spinning in front of the TV cameras.
Donald Trump lost, and he lost fair and square. There was no massive fraud. There was no algorithm switching votes. There were no truckloads of pre-filled out ballots delivered from state to state. No evidence of any of the dozens of allegations coming from affidavits solicited over the internet have been presented. Were there individual cases of voter fraud here and there? Were there some questionable procedures in some precincts? Sure, just like there is in every election, but nowhere near the level that would affect a presidential election.
In the aftermath of this loss, Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do in this situation. He is refusing to accept it.
It’s not like we weren’t warned this was going to happen. Trump announced months ago he was not going to accept the results of the election. Back during the summer, he said he was going to claim any loss was the result of massive voter fraud. Days before the election it was reported Trump would try to claim victory on election night when election day voting that favors Republicans show Trump ahead in battleground states, and before absentee ballots were counted. Trump’s apologists said this claim was ridiculous and would never happen, yet there he was on election eve claiming victory and demanding that all vote counting stop.
Trump is not the first candidate to refuse to accept an election loss. Go back only two years ago to the 2018 Georgia Governors’ race and you will find Democrat Stacey Abrams not only refusing to concede, but actively claiming the race was stolen from her. Republicans have consistently mocked and scorned Abrams for this claim.
Four years ago in 2016, even though she conceded a day after the election, Republicans acted shocked and appalled that Hillary Clinton joined in a request for a recount in two states, claiming she was a sore loser and refused to accept the will of the people.
Back in 2000, with the closest presidential election in recent history where the race came down to less than 1,000 votes in Florida, crowds gathered for weeks outside the Naval Observatory where Vice President Gore was living chanting, “get out of Cheney’s house!”
Republicans throughout the years have shown that we do not hold sore losers in high regard…unless that sore loser is Donald Trump.
So where are the adults in the Republican party and the Conservative movement standing up to the moral relativism? Where are the GOP leaders pushing back against this outlandishness? Sadly, too many of them are, in fact, complicit in this scheme. Too many people who have been involved in Republican politics for decades and who know better are walking arm in arm with Trump in this charade, actively participating in it.
- Newt Gingrich declared on national television that A.G. Barr should go into PA, WI, and MI and arrest the poll workers and election officials.
- Mark Levin went on his radio show calling for Republican State legislators in states won by Biden to ignore their state laws, disenfranchise every single voter in their states, and appoint electors for Trump even though he lost the state.
- Steve Bannon called for Democrats and FBI Director Chris Wray to be beheaded.
- Joe DiGenova, one of the President’s lawyers, called for Chris Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to be “taken out at dawn and shot” for the crime of contradicting Trump’s fraud claims and stating the election and our voting system was secure.
- Texas GOP Chairman Allen West declared that GOP leaning states should secede from the United States, and Rush Limbaugh is on the air openly talking about secession.
- RPV Chairman Rich Anderson has sent out emails asking people to support Donald Trump and his efforts to expose the massive fraud in the election.
- VA Sen. and Gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase has openly and repeatedly called for martial law to keep Donald Trump in power.
Every one of the people I mentioned above (and dozens more like them doing the same thing) KNOWS BETTER than to peddle this trash, but they are doing it anyway. Every one of these people know the election wasn’t stolen but prefer to repeat the lie instead of standing up for the truth. Sen. Ben Sasse recently wrote that every Republican member of Congress he has spoken to privately believes Biden won the election fair and square.
So why are they acting this way? Why are they doing it? Several reasons. They are using this to raise money, or to try and grab power and position, or because they think anything that hurts the incoming Biden administration is fair game. The main reason, the one above all others, is because they are afraid of what Trump will do if they don’t.
If this current situation has shown anything it is that there is a large portion of the population that gives their allegiance to Trump and no one else. They will switch which TV network or website they get their news from if he tells them to. They will turn off talk radio hosts if he doesn’t like what they say. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are trying to get Republicans to boycott the Georgia runoffs and hand control of the Senate to the Democrats because they think Republicans did not do enough to keep Trump in office. At a recent pro-Trump rally in D.C. crowds could be heard chanting “Destroy the GOP!!”
Republican leaders are kneeling to Trump in the hopes he will keep his people in line long enough to get them to vote for the Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs in Georgia. They think they will be able to extract the loyalty these people have for Trump away from him when they no longer need him, but by showing Trump such deference over such an outlandish claim, they are demonstrating their abject weakness. Trump has his boot on the neck of the Republican party, and he is not going to let go of his control if they keep rolling over for him, doing what he wants.
Our Constitutional Republic depends on trust in our electoral process. It depends not only on the rule of law, but RESPECT and TRUST in that rule of law. Donald Trump and his sycophants are actively working to undermine that respect in the law. They are trying to undermine faith in our elections, and they are doing it for money and to satisfy the outrageously oversized ego of Donald Trump.
I started writing this piece weeks ago, after the first outrageous statements from Joe DiGenova and Newt Gingrich were first uttered, thinking it really couldn’t get worse than that. How wrong I was. Day after day more and more Republicans have piled on, fighting to climb to the summit of Moron Hill, hoping to be the one to show the most slavish allegiance to a narcissistic charlatan who couldn’t be doing more damage to this country right now even if he actually were the Russian plant Democrats claimed he was.
The most recent examples of stupidity belong to Louie Gohmert and Josh Hawley. Gohmert tried to sue the Vice President to force him to reject electors for Joe Biden based on a badly flawed reading of the 12th amendment to the Constitution. When his case was summarily rejected, he called for violence in the streets. Josh Hawley broke the wall of sanity in the Senate when he declared he would join objections to the electoral votes for Biden, opening a floodgate of lunacy to follow led by Ted Cruz whom I have lost all respect for. This guarantees that on Jan. 6th large numbers of elected Republicans will forcefully declare for the world to see that they don’t care about elections, and they don’t care about the Constitution, and that will reverberate throughout the country for years to come to the party’s detriment.
Please don’t waste my time with the “whataboutism” arguments. I really don’t want to hear about how the Democrats objected to Bush electors. This 2nd grade playground, “he hit me first” argument does not excuse the current bad behavior of Trump and company. It just demonstrates how Republicans are determined to lower themselves to emulate the bad behavior they claim to abhor.
Two wrongs have never made a right, no matter how long you stamp your feet and hold your breath. Besides, we all know that all the right wing talkers and keyboard warriors screaming fraud and repeating Q-Anon conspiracy theories would be screaming bloody murder right now if any Democrat President had said or done the things Trump is saying and doing, or Democrats in the House and Senate were pulling the stunts Republicans are pulling right now.
Somebody needs to be the adults in the room, and Trump and his clingers clearly aren’t stepping up to the plate. On the contrary, they are counting on others like Chip Roy, Tom Cotton, and Mike Lee to have the integrity and courage to stand for the Constitution and the Rule of Law so that they can have their faux temper tantrum without the risk of actually precipitating a Constitutional crisis and kicking off a real civil war in this country.
The Republican party has some hard choices to make in the coming months. We need to decide if we are going to be the party of integrity or the party of conspiracy? Will we be the party of responsibility, or the party of hostility? Will we continue to be the angry, bitter party of Trumpism, or return to the happy warrior party of Reaganism?