As we entered the weekend, it looked as if some of the overheated drama surrounding the presidential election was finally losing steam. With court after court dismissing his flimsy claims, more Republican officials put aside outgoing President Trump’s conspiracy theory about massive voter fraud and accepted the inevitable. (As Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, put it, “A lawsuit without provable facts showing a statutory or constitutional violation is just a tweet with a filing fee.”)
On Thursday, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee and members of the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council, composed of the government's top security and election officials, announced: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. … There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
That’s a much more reliable assessment than anything coming from a Fox News opinionator.
Trump is full of surprises, as evidenced by his abrupt dismissal last week of multiple Pentagon officials, quickly replacing them with loyalists. Some wondered if he was planning a coup to stay in power. Normally, such claims would be seen as ridiculous, but this is a president who has taken many unorthodox actions, from soliciting foreign aid for his reelection to siphoning military funds to build his border wall. If there’s a line past which he will not go, we don’t yet know what it is.
But it’s reassuring to see rational Republicans step forward to congratulate Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. At this point, with some Republican legislators attacking Republican election officials, apparently for doing their jobs well, the notion of voter fraud is not so much a matter of Republican vs. Democrat as rational vs. irrational.
Voters of a certain age can assure the rest of us that it’s not unusual or unexpected for a Democrat to win a presidential election. It shouldn’t be suspect now. But as some Republican strategists have tried to portray Democrats as cheaters, they not only strain credulity, they undermine the electoral process and diminish the possibility of cooperation. In an atmosphere as divided as ours, with threats of violence and talk of civil war brewing, this is a highly irresponsible tactic.
Such divisive tactics found their apex in Trump, who practiced a scorched-earth approach to disagreement and encouraged a skewed view of reality that’s still shared by many of his supporters.
Democrats are not going away. If anything, their number is increasing. Republicans need to figure out a way to accept and work with them for the good of the nation as a whole. They can't keep obstructing government as if dysfunction were a virtue.
Last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that if the Republican Party is going to be successful in the future, it needs to build “a multiethnic, multiracial, working-class coalition.” He said that following Trump’s apparent defeat, Republicans need to rebrand their party with a smaller focus on being the party of big business and instead emphasize how they can make free markets work for the working class.
That’s a development we would welcome.
America needs a conservative party — a party that values American traditions, including the peaceful transfer of power, established by George Washington. A party that values military service, based not on brutality, but on honor. A party that doesn’t pander to its supporters’ worst instincts, but inspires their best.
Trump’s response to losing the election has been immature, to say the least. It has shaken America’s reputation even further. His supporters may not care. They’re focused on more narrow goals than America’s standing in the world.
For the rest of us, President-elect Biden’s vision of the future is one of shared prosperity, not that far from Rubio’s. Many in the nation, stressed and strained by division, stand ready to give him a chance.
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