Editorial: Donald Trump Couldn’t Undermine our Republic without the GOP’s Help

When the Republican-led Senate failed to vote in favor of removing Donald Trump from office following his impeachment in January of 2020, more than half of Americans knew what was bound to happen. We knew that a president who was given a pass on abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress would only step up his self-serving game. Now, enabled by the same GOP who voted to condone his behavior in January, Donald Trump is pulling out all the stops as he obstructs the U.S. election process and attempts to vaporize our democratic systems— just as we knew he would.

Back in January, the argument against impeachment and removal was that it would undermine the integrity of the American voting process. Republicans repeatedly said that impeaching and removing Trump from office would illegitimize his election by “the people.” That didn’t make sense then, and makes even less sense now. A president who proves to be corrupt and unlawful, who turns out to be someone who willingly and regularly puts his own interests above those of his country, should be removed from office. That is why we have the impeachment and removal processes to turn to.

Undermine the integrity of the voting process? Donald Trump was already trying to do that by pressuring a foreign government (Ukraine) to provide false information about Trump’s opponent (Joe Biden). And despite being impeached for reasons surrounding it, Trump continued to try to undermine the legitimacy of the election process in numerous ways, including planting the idea deeply in the minds of his supporters that if he lost the 2020 presidential election, it would be because Democrats had cheated.

And now, as expected, with President-elect Joe Biden the confirmed winner in a presidential election that even numerous Republican election officials have described as “the most secure election in U.S. history,” 70 percent of Republicans think that Joe Biden won because the Democrats cheated.

It doesn’t matter how many times a judge throws out one of Team Trump’s unfounded lawsuits, or how many well-respected Republican officials give testament to the integrity of the 2020 election. Without evidence, and on the basis of absurd conspiracy theories, Trump and his legal team have filed more than 30 lawsuits contesting the election results in various states, only two of which they have won.

But Donald Trump maintains that he has won re-election, despite the millions of votes that show otherwise; and that’s good enough for his staunch supporters.

Trump has purposely set up his supporters to be prepared for an election in which the only legitimate outcome, in their eyes, would be for Donald Trump to win. He has also worn down their trust in a fair election to the point where they see it as perfectly reasonable to simply not accept the results of an election in a world in which Donald Trump did not win. This includes demanding repeated vote recounts, supporting baseless lawsuits to overturn the vote tallies in states where Trump didn’t win, pressuring the resignation and threatening the lives of election officials who say the election was free and fair, and even pressuring electors in states where Joe Biden won to vote in favor of Donald Trump, instead.

“The integrity of the election process” was extremely important to Republicans back in January. “Let’s not remove a fairly elected president from office,” they said. “That will only serve to cause mistrust in our election process. We have to let the people judge Donald Trump at the ballot box in November.”

In November, the people did judge Donald Trump at the ballot box, and they judged in favor of Joe Biden.

Suddenly, however, “the integrity of the election process” means very little to those same Republicans. Their vote in January had nothing to do with integrity. Then, as now, they are largely silent about Trump’s increasingly brazen flouting of the law, out of fear of the damage Donald Trump could do to their careers, should they anger him. They have voted to save their literal and figurative seats.

The message they sent Trump and his supporters in January was that Donald Trump is not accountable to his country, its laws, or its people. That message is being acted on more clearly than many Americans could even imagine, as Trump, in the manner of authoritarians everywhere, uses every unscrupulous means possible to grab and hold onto the power he and his supporters believe should be his without restriction, simply because they want it to be so.

Republican lawmakers, whether in their silence, or in their continued outward support of Donald Trump’s behavior, have placed their political survival above the survival of our republic. They have been complicit with Donald Trump  as they have allowed and enabled him to set in motion a deep and damaging distrust and disrespect for our democratic process. As 70 percent of Republicans say that Joe Biden won the election because the Democrats cheated, Trump and his enablers have been successful in hobbling our country such that it may never be fully repaired.

Trump Meeting With MI Republican Officials As He Looks To Overturn Election Results | NBC News NOW [2020-11-20]

Trump continues to deny election loss | CBS This Morning [2020-11-21]

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