The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, to say the least. The presidential election’s results will have a major and lasting impact on the direction of federal policy. But President Trump’s baseless claims that this election was “stolen” from him through “fraud” will have an effect that lingers long after President-elect Joe Biden has left office. By sowing doubt about the legitimacy of votes not in his favor, the president and his enablers are striking at the heart of America.
It’s an unprecedented escalation of conservatives’ ongoing effort to undermine trust in government — an approach that they have grown accustomed to using to stoke anti-tax sentiment. We’ve seen it in budget cuts that prevent government workers from doing their jobs effectively. The IRS, for example, has been woefully underfunded thanks to rightwing efforts to demonize the institution. The beneficiaries are rich people who the IRS lacks the resources to effectively audit. We’ve seen it in attacks on the media and science that make it impossible for policymakers to agree on a baseline set of facts as the starting point for a rational debate on the effects of climate change. And now we’re seeing it in the highest-profile attack ever launched against American democracy itself.
To their credit, a few Republicans have spoken out against the shameful lie that this was a “rigged” election. But Republican congressional leaders have largely refused to stand up for America. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been actively spreading the president’s disinformation while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has watched this grotesque display from the sidelines.
Confidence in government is key to making progress on the most pressing issues facing our country. Elected officials have a responsibility to do what they can to let the American people know that our elections are real even if you do not like the outcome and that, when managed effectively, government can work for the benefit of the people.