The post-election political spectacle has put the question of reality and fantasy front and center. A meaningful number of Republican voters are frustrated because they believe widespread fraud in key states stole the election for Joe Biden. They are wrong about this. In fact, the election was relatively close and yielded a mixed result without much evidence of serious fraud. Trump lost fairly narrowly but clearly in a series of swing states and so lost the presidency, but Republicans improved their standing in the House of Representatives and lost just a few seats in the Senate in a year when they had more seats at risk. No inquiry into fraud has turned up anything of note, and claims to the contrary have all melted away under scrutiny; most were never even made in court because they couldn’t even reach the level of assertions. The election therefore leaves Republicans with some major opportunities to pursue, but also with a Democratic president to deal with.
Republican politicians could deal with these facts, and so look for ways to use the power they possess to pursue the opportunities they have to advance their voters’ interests and expand their future electoral appeal. Or they could pretend the lies too many of their voters have accepted are true and put on a show for those voters, to both justify and intensify their frustration and outrage. And some Republicans in Congress have clearly chosen the latter course — an easy but corrosive populism, rather than a hard but constructive populism.
President Trump himself has obviously encouraged them in this course. He is deeply fluent in the fraud conspiracies, and seems genuinely to believe them — as he has often shown himself incapable of separating fact from fiction too. We now also know that he has tried to get state officials to steal votes for him even as he claims the Democrats stole them away. He is intent on talking a different reality into being and demands that others accept it. To abide and encourage the election-fraud conspiracies is to affirm the web of lies he has been spinning, and the Republican politicians who have chosen to do that know full well that this is what it means.
The whole essay may be behind a paywall, but it is a compelling analysis, so read it if you possibly can. (National Review has been really great in the Trump years, so it’s more than worth a subscription.)
The Republican Party, it seems to me, is now chiefly comprised of three camps: the delusional, the liars, and those who enable delusions and lies.
Among the few not in any of those three camps is Representative Chip Roy (R., Texas) who yesterday pointed out to his fellow Republican Representatives an inevitable chain of logic following from the claims of massive voting fraud:
Such allegations – if true – raise significant doubts about the elections of at least some of the members of the United States House of Representatives that, if not formally addressed, could cast a dark cloud of suspicion over the validity of this body for the duration of the 117th Congress. After all, those representatives were elected through the very same systems — with the same ballot procedures, with the same signature validations, with the same broadly applied decisions of executive and judicial branch officials — as were the electors chosen for the President of the United States under the laws of those states, which have become the subject of national controversy. And while the legislatures of those states have sent us no formal indication that the results of these elections should not be honored by this body, it would confound basic human reason if the presidential results were to face objection while the congressional results of the same process escaped without public scrutiny.
(Emphasis mine.) Only two of his colleagues declined to “confound basic human reason.” The others don’t believe that any election fraud took place, but they are fully prepared to pretend they did because they think they can gain politically thereby.
As I have noted many times, I do not belong to either political party and for decades now have consistently voted for third-party or write-in candidates. The GOP’s repudiation of the most foundational governing principles of this nation has forced me to change my thinking. Yesterday I wrote this letter to one of my Senators, Ted Cruz:
Dear Senator Cruz,
As you know, there was no fraud in the recent Presidential election. President Trump’s attorneys have declined even to allege fraud, because they know — again, as do you — that there is no evidence for it. You could have corrected and instructed those who have been misled by manipulative deceivers, and thereby helped to promote trust in a system that has earned our trust. Instead, you have chosen to echo those deceivers and to inflame fears with a truly shocking recklessness. The American people at this moment need firefighters; you have chosen to become an arsonist. You are treating the vows you have made as a Senator with absolute contempt; you are treating America itself with absolute contempt. You have chosen to advocate the abrogation of American laws, norms, and traditions in order to build up the alternative nation you want to live in: Trumpistan.
I am a long-time conservative. I last voted for Democrat candidates for the Presidency and Senate in 1976. But I am very much looking forward to voting for whoever — and I do mean whoever — the Democratic Party runs against you in 2024.
(Of course, Cruz may not run for Senate again. But whatever he runs for, and it’ll be something, I’m agin’ him.) I am extremely unhappy with this decision, because the Democratic Party despises me and most of what I believe in. And maybe I wouldn’t take this path if I lived in a blue state, that is, one where the Democrats are more radical than they are here in Texas. But if I can do anything to prevent those who prefer Trumpistan to America from gaining political office, I will.