The last few months have strained America’s constitutional democracy, which Bill Moyers described as “our defense against ourselves, the one foe who might defeat …
The last few months have strained America’s constitutional democracy, which Bill Moyers described as “our defense against ourselves, the one foe who might defeat us.”
Granted, Donald Trump acted within his rights by launching in scattergun fashion scores of legal challenges to the 2020 vote count. But when that failed, he twisted the arms of state officials, rebuked his loyal lieutenants for refusing to break the law and incited a crowd to storm the Capitol. All these acts were based on the false presumption of massive voter fraud.
The 2016 election drew a similar response from Democrats, but their indignation was tempered by Hillary Clinton’s prompt acceptance of the outcome. Presently, Trump shows no signs of conceding the vote count. Indeed, he has pursued increasingly desperate measures to perpetuate the myth of widespread election fraud — a myth he fabricated months before the election. His strategy has worked. After the results had been certified by the states and most of the legal challenges had been dismissed, a Fox News poll showed 68% of Republicans still believed Biden stole the election. If this delusion persists, the Republican Party will grow more conflicted and less able to deliver the balanced government our nation desperately needs.
Anyone who rejects the conclusion of Attorney General and Trump loyalist Bill Barr, that there is no evidence of fraud on a scale that would overturn the election, can easily verify the facts. None of the 50 or so lawsuits alleging fraud has succeeded, either in district or appellate courts. More than 90 judges, some of whom were nominated by President Trump, have dismissed his arguments. Certain lawsuits were dropped by Trump attorneys under threat of disbarment for frivolous litigation or “false statements of material fact.” The claim that voting machines were rigged, propagated by Fox News and Newsmax, was met with a warning that suppliers Dominion and Smartmatic would sue for defamation. Consequently, both news outlets publicly admitted they had no evidence to support manipulation of the machines or the votes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, until now an unabashed Trump defender, summed up the dangers in his speech last week to the joint congressional session: “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.” He reminded his colleagues that self-government requires “a shared commitment to the truth, and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system.”
For crucial disputes, America has always distinguished truth from falsehood in a court of law. If, whenever we don’t like the verdict, we the people lose confidence in our justice system and the rules of evidence which it holds supreme, our democracy will not last.