President Donald Trump’s refusal to leave the White House peacefully should not come as a surprise. From the second he announced his candidacy to the moment news outlets finally confirmed his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, he’s been a lingering stain on this nation and its grand democratic experiment.
Republican leaders had ample opportunity to restore some decency in Trump’s besmirched reputation throughout his four disastrous years by calling on him to concede and begin the transitioning process. They could have abandoned their complicity for accountability or rejected Trump’s whining, tweeting and empty threats by accepting the people’s decision for what it is: a resounding victory for Biden.
Instead, most Trump supporters have fallen in line with the outgoing president and refused to accept the results of this election, opting for silence or even outright defiance in the form of reneging on certifying election results. By supporting Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, Republicans have exposed their party’s rotten core of greed and pettiness. Their actions are selfish and insidious, meant in part to rile up the party’s base in Georgia for the upcoming Senate runoffs, yet this is what we’ve come to expect. Their disdain for democracy isn’t even surprising at this point, but if we don’t confront it head-on, it could become a dangerous norm moving forward.
For starters, take Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently treated a second term for Trump as guaranteed during a press conference. That bizarre statement came three days after the Associated Press independently verified Biden’s triumph over Trump.
Regrettably, Pompeo is not alone in such absurdity. In several swing states, Trump has cast doubt on election results that didn’t favor him, with Republicans in Congress backing him up. Particularly in Georgia, this has created an intra party feud. In an unusual joint statement, Senators David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) demanded the resignation of Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger because he allegedly “failed to deliver honest and transparent elections.” There is really only one way to read this: Trump lost in Georgia, hence, the election was rigged against him. But there’s no evidence to support these petulant claims. Lies have become the new calling card of the Republican Party — members will say anything to energize their base, even at the expense of our democracy.
In response to specious claims of widespread voter fraud and election mismanagement, The New York Times did what any responsible news organization would: it talked to election officials themselves. After contacting officials in all 50 states, the Times concluded that no voter fraud, either widespread or isolated, influenced the 2020 election. But don’t expect the GOP base to trust the “failing New York Times.” Only the word of Trump and his cronies, most of whom seek to sow baseless discord, matters to them.
Loeffler, Perdue and Pompeo’s claims would be easy to dismiss if not for their deleterious implications. The impending runoffs in Georgia are destined to focus national attention on the state during the next two months. Casting doubt on the results of the Nov. 3 contests will legitimize further efforts to sow doubt about election integrity into the new year. The two Georgia senators’ attempts stoke the flames of division and raise the specter of illegitimacy in the state’s voting process are indicative of the GOP’s anti-democratic thrust. When nearly half of a state’s voters are convinced of impropriety in elections, how is democracy supposed to properly function?
If you’re still paying attention to presidential politics at this point, don’t legitimize Republicans’ lies by calling for all “legal votes” to be counted or for Trump’s lawsuits to be taken seriously. Instead, spread the truth with friends and family, and try to help those who doubt the results understand the danger of those lies. Our democracy succeeds in large part only because we trust that it will. We cannot allow this country to develop a fault line between those who have faith in democracy and those who don’t, lest we see our republic crumble.
And if you’re in Georgia, vote for the truth on Jan. 5 — reject the “alternative facts” that have become Republicans’ calling card. The best way to fight Perdue and Loeffler’s lies is to send them packing. It’s time for former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ grassroots organizing and Biden’s recent victory to usher in a new age of activist politics and massive voter mobilization efforts in Georgia.
I wanted Trump’s 2016 victory to be a mere bad dream, but the regrettable reality on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, didn’t convince me that the election process was fraudulent. The country simply picked the wrong person for the job. However, that millions of Americans actually think Trump’s loss is implausible despite his mishandling of the pandemic and his four years of racism, vitriol, lies, insults and ineptitude is a major cause for concern. The GOP’s tendency to think that way is both alarming and despicable. But it is the disingenuousness of it all that tells us what the Republicans’ newest lie ultimately is: disastrous.
Jake Busch (22C) is from Brookhaven, Georgia.