December 8, 2020
New York Times
New Orleans In this time of radical polarization in American politics, I want to make sure there is a clear footnote to the Trump shenanigans that gives some praise to the shared commitment of local Republican officials to our democratic voting practice. President Trump has never been accused of being a man-with-a-plan, and for the sake of the republic, we can be thankful for that, and, frankly, thank our stars for the luck in that draw. I have never bought into the mass conspiracies that envisioned a Trump team coup upon his losing, but seeing some of his last ditch efforts to overturn the crystal clear and completely confirmed election results in state after state, I have to admit, we have survived this election test, so that the results stand, but not for lack of Trump trying to overturn them in bizarre and outrageous ways. He is a stone-cold wannabe autocrat, but fortunately not good at it.
Though the topline story may be Trump’s ineptness, the bottom line is that Republican officials from Governors to Secretaries of State to key state-level legislative leaders to local election officials and judges, stood firm and held the line, when it came to preposterous claims by the president and his retinue that there had been voting fraud. No matter how polarized the polity is now, the mutual commitment to the amorphous phrase “the will of the people” as expressed at the ballot box, held fast, regardless of how much contempt these same officials might have for Biden and their opponents.
It has now become clear that in one battleground state after another that Trump lost, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the president personally called top Republican lawmakers and officials asking them to do whatever it might take to overturn the results. In Michigan, he pulled in the top Republicans to a White House pressure session, and they rejected his pleas. At a rally in Georgia, he excoriated Governor Kemp, who is certainly no stranger to hokey-pokey with elections, based on his history of voter purges to pave the way for his own election. Trump demanded that he call a special session of the legislature to overturn the results, even after three Republican-led recounts had confirmed his loss. One election official after another defended their job and conduct of the election against the President’s assault. Even the militantly Republican-majority Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed his voter fraud suit as being groundless.
As I’ve said before, if you want to steal an election, all evidence, and the usual Republican strategy, is that you have to do so before the election, using suppression and voter disqualification. At least in the United States, we have established that after the votes are cast, it’s too late. That’s something to hold onto.
A lesson for the Trumps to come is evident here. Local officials are not Senators and Congressman who can be threatened and cowed, because locals serve at the whim of local voters, and it’s harder to hide the hand. The locals deserve our thanks for that this round, and we need to make sure that we don’t depend on such luck in the future. The next wannabe who wants to subvert the democratic practice, might be better at doing so. Some doors now need to be locked tighter.