As of Monday, November 23, it has been 16 days since the presidential election was called by the networks for Joe Biden. The president has yet to acknowledge his loss, much less concede. He has also not yet approved the cooperation of his administration in the transition of power. Sixteen days and counting.
Far worse, during this time the president and some of his supporters have taken nearly every conceivable step to undermine the outcome of the election. Each has failed in the courts, given the complete dearth of credible evidence. I am no attorney, and do not play one on television, but it appears that ‘credible evidence’ is important when arguing a case. Judges seem to require it. The president and his legal team are, at this moment, 1 for 32 after a federal judge last Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign trying to invalidate seven million Pennsylvania mail-in ballots. In a scathing rebuke, Judge Matthew W. Brann, a Republican, wrote that the Trump campaign should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” and should not have attempted “to haphazardly stitch together allegations like Frankenstein’s monster.”¹ The 1 for 32 does not include Georgia’s decision on Friday to certify its election, verifying a Biden win.² For those keeping score at home, the president is currently batting .031 in court and .000 in the election.³
Now the president is attempting to sell wildly fictitious, unhinged conspiracy theories, each more implausible than the next. All seem to involve, in some combination: the nefarious actions of ‘Democratic-controlled cities’ (e.g., Detroit, Philadelphia); food trucks hauling ballots; tabulating machines that ‘flipped’ votes from Trump to Biden manufactured by Dominion, a Canadian company run by an international Leftist group with communist money flowing through Venezuela, Cuba and China and, possibly, the Jewish philanthropist George Soros; the dead voting in large numbers; those pesky mail-in ballots; and widespread favoritism given to Democratic vote-counting observers over those of the Republican Party. According to a Trump campaign lawyer forced by the judge to revise his allegation that no Republican observers were permitted to observe vote tabulation, he reluctantly agreed that there were “a non-zero number of Trump observers in the room.”⁴
This would all be laughable if it were not so serious.
With each passing day, the rants increase in volume and become ever-more wild. Not more inventive, mind you, just more wild. And increasingly dangerous. That Rudy Giuliani is one promoting these theories seems completely apropos, given that he has become an unprincipled, untrustworthy, immoral, say-anything-to-please-the-boss, hair-dye-dripping shill. The descriptor ‘lunatic’ works, too. You would think that an attorney seeking $20,000 per day would know the meaning of ‘opacity’ and the legal definition of ‘strict scrutiny’ even if he has not appeared in a courtroom in nearly three decades.⁵
Not to be overshadowed by his inept lawyer, the president last week, in an act so brazen, so contemptible, so illegal, contacted two Republicans on the Wayne County, Michigan, Board of Canvassers seeking to have them rescind their votes certifying Michigan’s election results.⁶ No rationale for the request was provided, aside from the president not having won the county and the state. This was yet another unparalleled affront to our democracy.
Then, last Friday the president summoned Michigan Republican state legislators to the White House with the explicit intent on having them agree to subvert their state’s election outcome. Despite appearances of impropriety, they went. Might the conversation have had something to do with the interest the president has in having Michigan’s electoral votes go to him rather than to the winner of the election? Sadly, there is no law requiring Michigan’s election winner to receive the Electoral College votes for that state.⁷ This is another plausible reason to abolish the Electoral College. Watch for the president to invite the Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House next to discuss the ‘availability’ of the state’s 20 Electoral College votes and their price.
If you are attempting to undermine democracy, you might as well use the White House to go all the way. Changing the outcome of an election is, by every definition, ‘going all the way.’
We have not seen the end of this. If there is an over/under bet on when the president will concede — where ‘under’ means before the election is officially certified on December 11⁸ and ‘over’ means after the election is certified, I would put all of my money on ‘never.’ Las Vegas oddsmakers agree.⁹ Not only is it unlikely that the president will concede the election he clearly lost — even after the Electoral College votes on December 14¹⁰ — it is highly unlikely that president-elect Biden will ever be invited to sit with the current president in the Oval Office. (Four years ago, then president-elect Trump sat with President Obama for 90 minutes just two days after the 2016 election.) Such is the self-centered, me-before-everyone, to-Hell-with-Democracy, I-am-your-sovereign nature of the current president. Maybe someone should explain to him that in democratic elections, unlike in golf, more is better than less. In democracy, Mr. President, more wins.
Regardless of how this plays out, we must remember every detail, every action, every attempt the president is making to invalidate his loss. We must also remember every person who supports him — either openly or tacitly — during this most embarrassing, abhorrent, horrifying attempt by the president of the United States to destroy the very foundation of our democracy. For if we remember, if we commit these actions and their perpetrators to memory, we might be able to prevent their reelection and a recurrence of this in the future. (This is akin to the Jewish concept of ‘zachor’ — Hebrew for ‘remember’ — as a way to prevent another holocaust.)
At the top of the list of supporting cast members to remember sits Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, followed immediately by Senator Lindsey Graham, who likely broke the law by attempting to intervene in the certification of the election in three states, none of which he presents. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, claimed that Graham pressured him to find ways to exclude or invalidate legally-cast absentee ballots and reverse Trump’s loss in the state. Graham called the accusation “ridiculous.”¹¹ Of course he did. Both McConnell and Graham are Republican, both are staunch supporters of the president and both, clearly, have no interest in upholding democracy. Remember them.
Remember Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the vast majority of the Republicans in the Senate. Most have said nothing, have done nothing to acknowledge, much less honor, the outcome of the election. Some of these people will likely run for president again. They must not be forgiven. Senator Mitt Romney is a rare exception. Think fondly of him. The rest are spineless puppets, either too afraid to speak openly or, equally depressing, are in agreement with the president’s continued attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the election. Count on the Republicans to tow the president’s line — no matter how dirty, how ugly, how shameful it becomes — as long as his Twitter account is active.
Remember Fox News — especially Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Lou Dobbs — for their impassioned nightly support of the president’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. Remember, too, Rush Limbaugh, who will find evil in any field of flowers, especially if the field has been tilled by Democrats. Apparently, they need no evidence to validate and amplify the president’s accusations. Worse, they are frequently the suppliers of new conspiracy theories, most the president takes as his own.
Remember Bill Barr. Remember Mike Pompeo. Remember Kayleigh McEnany. Remember Donald Jr. Remember Steve Bannon. All are playing pivotal roles in attempting to undermine our democracy.
Remember the Monmouth University poll conducted last week. It reported that a whopping 77% of Trump backers believe Biden won because of fraud, despite the lack of any supporting evidence. If accurate, this suggests that of the 73.7 million who voted for the president, 56.8 million believe the election was rigged. According to Monmouth University Polling Institute’s Director Patrick Murray, “The anger among Trump’s base is tied to a belief that the election was stolen.”¹²
Wonder where they got that idea?
Remember every attempt to suppress voting before the election: voter purges, reducing the number of polling places, mandating voter ID, undermining the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service, the war on mail-in ballots, and the dramatic reduction in the number of ballot drop boxes throughout Texas. All led by Republicans, all designed to reduce voter participation especially among people of color, and all ineffective because people turned out to vote in record numbers. If only the president and the Republican Party would recognize and respect the will of the people, which is the essence of democracy. It is undoubtedly too much to ask of them.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember Rudy Giuliani. Remember Mike Pence. And, without doubt, remember the president. Their actions, with the help of many in high places and the support of millions, have further divided us and have forever sullied the reputation of this country.