Election denial reflects poorly on Republicans

Rick Morain is the former publisher and owner of the Jefferson Herald, for which he writes a regular column.

For the past three and a half years, Donald Trump has falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Many polls have indicated that roughly 70 percent of Republicans across the country believe the same thing.

Why do so many Republicans accept the Big Lie? The only reason I can see is that Donald Trump says it. If Trump suddenly announced he was wrong, that Joe Biden indeed won the election fair and square, how many Republicans would immediately change their tune as well? My guess: nearly all of them.

That’s because they have no facts to trot out in support of Trump’s claim that 2020 was “rigged,” “stolen,” or “fraudulent.”

Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr found no evidence of widespread irregularities. Neither did the judges in some 60 court cases brought by Trump supporters in several key states. Neither did election officials in those states. Neither did the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Neither did two private research firms his campaign hired shortly after the election to ferret out voter fraud.

In December 2021, the Associated Press reviewed every potential case of voter fraud brought in the six battleground states where Trump disputed the results. The review found fewer than 475 such instances—way, way, way short of anything that would have made a difference in the 2020 presidential election.

Biden received some 81 million popular votes to Trump’s 74 million. Biden won in the electoral college by 306 to 232.

Hundreds of Americans have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Several higher-up Trump lieutenants are charged with participating in one or more “Stop the Steal” plots at either the federal or state level, and their cases are working their way through the courts.

The 2020 election wasn’t Trump’s first Big Lie rodeo.

After President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in 2012, Trump tweeted, “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” the election was a “total sham,” and the United States is “not a democracy.”

During his 2016 campaign, Trump regularly implied that the Democratic Party was rigging the election at polling booths against him, thereby sowing doubt about the certification process. In the final 2016 debate between himself and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he refused to say he would accept the election results if he lost. The next day he said he would “totally” accept the results—if he won.

During the 2020 campaign, Trump said the “only way” he could lose was if Democrats rigged the results, and several times he refused to promise a peaceful transition after the election. Steve Bannon, the firebrand off-and-on Trump supporter, outlined the plan for Trump to declare victory at a pre-election meeting that was recorded.

Republicans are more likely to vote in person on election day, Bannon said, while many Democrats vote early with absentee ballots. Because of that, the first votes to be counted would be those cast at the polling places on election day, and they would tend to favor the Republican candidates. Therefore Trump would make a public appearance a couple hours after most of the polls had closed and declare himself the winner. He would then claim the absentee votes, which would be counted after the election day ballots, were fraudulent plants and should not be allowed.

That’s exactly what happened. On election night, Trump insisted that the “legitimate” ballots proved him the winner, and that the absentee votes counted later were simply ballot-stuffing. The Big Lie continues to this day.

The Greene County Republican Party has an attractive headquarters in a storefront on the east side of the Jefferson square. For a few days one of its two large picture windows displayed a huge sign that said something like “Trump won. We all know it.”

The sign’s no longer there. I don’t know why it was removed, but I’m glad it’s gone. In the first place, we don’t “all know it.” But in addition, the sign reflected poorly on most of the Republicans I know here.

Especially at the local level, most Republicans—and most Democrats, Libertarians, and independents—have the good of their fellow citizens at heart. I’ve observed over many decades that those who involve themselves in politics do so because they believe in good government as they see it. And they believe in fair play.

To the others, like those who pledge allegiance to the Big Lie because Trump says so, after millions of fruitless hours spent nationwide investigating claims of fraud: is that all you’ve got?

Top image: Trump supporters protest outside of the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City on January 6, 2921—the day Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Photo by Trevor Bexon, available via Shutterstock.

About the Author(s)

Rick Morain

  • election deniers

    Not a fan of election deniers from either party. Hillary and her minions claimed the 2016 election was stolen and spun false conspiracy tales for years setting the stage for Trump’s wacky claims. Excellent article from NBC(not exactly a far right news organization):


  • But Hillary

    I was thinking the same as the last comment. Hillary STILL denies that Trump was the “legitimate” president. The cast of The View do the same. Kinda unfair to say that just one side denies elections. We COULD go as far back as Al Gore vs. George Bush and the whole hanging chads thing…