By SEAN QUINTAL
November 2020 marked the 57th presidential election in the United States. Since 1800, when Thomas Jefferson, of the Democratic Republican Party defeated the incumbent John Adams of the Federalist Party, the ensuing 53 elections in America have stood as examples to the world of how a vibrant and free democracy respects both the will of its people and the rule of constitutional order.
Adams set a critical precedent. His departure from office marked the first peaceful transfer of power between U.S. political opponents, now a foundational element of our nation’s democracy. Since 1800, the loser of every presidential election has willingly, peacefully and cooperatively surrendered power to the winner.
Every loser, that is, until Donald Trump.
Before the election, Trump repeatedly declined to say he would assure a peaceful transition of power and now it is clear that he never intended to accept defeat. Last month, the American people decisively chose Joe Biden as their 46th President. Nonetheless, since the election Trump and his GOP enablers have waged an unprecedented attack on American democracy. The fact that the execution of their scheme has been comically ineffective should not obscure the grave risk it poses to the soundness of our political system.
To this day, Trump not only refuses to concede to the President-Elect, he persists in offering bizarre conspiracy theories and outright lies to claim that he actually won the election. The degenerates and liars who constitute his absurdly inept legal team, headed by the vampiric Rudy Guiliani, have waged a frantic effort to delegitimize a certifiably fair election. They have filed some 60 lawsuits in several states, seeking to set aside President-Elect Biden’s victories. And they have failed in spectacular fashion. Of 47 post-election court cases adjudicated (as of Dec. 4), the Trump campaign has been rejected by the courts in 46.
The reason they are losing every case is simple: there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. None. Trump’s own Attorney General has publicly declared so. But the fact that a sitting president is trying in court to overturn the will of the people is both disgusting and horrifying. Trump’s un-American assault on democracy has been condemned by judges of both political parties. Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, observed the following in his opinion rejecting the outlandish request from Trump’s lawyers to invalidate that state’s election results:
“Something far more fundamental than the winner of Wisconsin’s electoral votes is implicated in this case. At stake, in some measure, is faith in our system of free and fair elections, a central feature to the enduring strength of our constitutional republic… Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.”
But Trump’s attempt to subvert a free and fair election through the court system is just part of his anti-democratic fiat. This month, the American people watched a sitting U.S. President call on state legislators to violate their oaths and to reject the results of their own constituents’ votes. Trump and his legal team have implored various state legislatures to invalidate November’s elections, defying the will of their states’ citizens. Trump personally called the Republican Governor of Georgia to demand he call a special session of the state legislature to override the popular vote and to nullify Biden’s victory. To his credit, the governor refused; Georgia’s Republican Lt. Governor publicly refuted Trump’s false claims that the election was “stolen,” and he condemned Trump’s “mountains of misinformation.”
Disturbingly, the integrity shown by those Republicans is atypical. Trump’s vile and venal affront to our democracy has been tolerated and countenanced, through either silence or affirmation, by a majority of national GOP office holders. One month after the election, 249 Republican Representatives and Senators were asked who had won. Only 27 answered President-Elect Biden; 220 either said the results were unclear or refused to answer (two actually insisted Trump had won). It appears the instinct to subvert elections, norms, and the law itself to serve Republican interests is hardly in retreat.
The health and propagation of American democracy depends on holding these unpatriotic partisans in check. That fact makes Georgia’s two US Senate seats on the ballot in January all the more critical, as majority control of the chamber is at stake. Those of us in California can lend our help to the good folks in Georgia working to secure those seats. Various organizations have phone banks where anyone can participate in reaching out to Georgia voters. For more information, please visit Stacy Abrams’ www.FairFight.com, www.actblue.com, or Indivisible’s website, www.tinyurl.com/y5qq8fw.
Thanks to the dedication and patriotism of tens of millions of Americans, and to the integrity of our judicial system, our constitutional republic weathered the brazen and shameless attack from the most un-American president in our history. We secured, for the 57th time, a free and fair presidential election. But as Trump has made ominously clear, if the American people are not vigilant, there is no guarantee we will enjoy a 58th.
— Sean Quintal writes on behalf of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club.