When I wrote a column only a couple of weeks ago about the presidential election, I thought President Donald Trump’s actions, and the lack of reaction from Wyoming’s elected officials, couldn’t get any worse. Unfortunately, in the intervening weeks, the threats to our democracy and the complicity of our federal and state elected officials has only deepened the crisis.
Let me be clear. Never before in the history of our country has a president refused to accept the result of an election and called for overturning the voice of voters. The hallmark of a democracy is the willingness to accept electoral defeat and be governed by those you did not support at the polls. Unwillingness to accept those norms is anti-democratic, anti-American and authoritarian. So, let’s identify the actions of the president and his supporters for what they are: an attempted coup. That’s what an illegal attempt to seize power is called.
To repeat, Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Biden garnered 306 Electoral College votes versus Trump’s 232. Americans cast roughly 81.3 million votes for Biden and roughly 74.2 million for Trump, a margin of over 7 million popular votes. Trump currently stands at having gained under 47% of the popular vote, similar to the percentage he garnered in 2016 when he won the Electoral College.
Recounts in every single contested state have not identified any voter fraud or changed the results. Trump and his supporters have lost every single court case except one (55 losses to date) without proving — or even asserting — voter fraud, many of which were ruled on by judges he appointed. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” Trump fired the Republican head of that agency for that statement.
During a pandemic, this election was one of the smoothest and cleanest in modern history. But that’s not what Trump, his supporters, our federal electeds and, now, even a bunch of Wyoming state legislators, would have you believe. Even though anyone paying attention can easily discern the facts and the truth.
There is no delicate way to say this: If you believe Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez had anything to do with this election (even though he’s been dead since 2013), or food trucks were used to bring in fake ballots, or dead people voted en masse, or voting machines flipped votes, well, you need to do some deep soul searching because you are being played by Trump and his unscrupulous sycophants.
Now for the dangerous part: Those trying to cling onto power are threatening people of both parties for doing their jobs and actually protecting our democracy.
One of Trump’s attorneys called for the execution of a cyber security official who was appointed by, yes, Trump. A former national security adviser (who was hired, then fired, and ultimately pardoned of crimes by, yes, Trump) and another attorney affiliated with the Trump team called for martial law. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Republican governors in Georgia and Arizona who have been strong Trump supporters and previously praised by Trump have been excoriated for doing their job. Republican election officials in Georgia who admitted voting for Trump have received death threats for doing their job. In addition, his minions on Fox and other networks continue to promote false information and prod their viewers to take seditious action.
Staunch Trump supporter U.S. Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, stated that he had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” For that, he is being castigated as a “Deep State” actor.
Why is this happening? Because the president of the United States refuses to accept the clear results of an election that he lost. Simple truth. He continues to lie and say he won the election, and he promotes fraudulent myths on his Twitter feed. Trump and his supporters are playing with fire. Words do have consequences, and eventually people will act on those words, doing harm to others.
What does our federal delegation have to say about this attack on our democracy? Absolutely nothing, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who made a belated, lukewarm statement that the president must show proof or accept the results.
What about Sens. Enzi and Barrasso and Sen.-elect Lummis? Their silence is calculating, deafening, dangerous and incredibly cynical. I suspect our delegation is much like Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin — privately acknowledging Trump lost while publicly going along for the ride for political expediency at the risk of our democracy. As analysts point out, the behavior brings back memories of Republican silence in the 1950s during McCarthyism.
And now a large contingent of Wyoming state legislators want to join a lawsuit brought by Texas to throw out millions of votes cast in other states and disenfranchise the additional millions of voters across the entire country who did not vote the way they wanted.
All the while, Wyoming media isn’t doing enough to ask our electeds about these threats and seditious statements.
Folks, I’ll say it again. Democracy is tough because it is inevitable that people we don’t support will win elections. It’s never easy to call out public servants, but never in the history of our country has a sitting president been unwilling to accept election results and endangered our democracy by brazenly lying, encouraging domestic discord and, yes, authoritarianism.
It’s come down to this: Now is the time to stand up and be counted — either for the rule of law and democracy, or for the destruction of our great American experiment in self-governance. Unfortunately, American history will remember the silence and complicity by elected officials who endangered our republic. So, call out Enzi, Barrasso, Lummis and state legislators we must.
It’s that simple.