Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and other members of President Donald Trump’s legal team, in spouting their bizarre, incoherent conspiracy theories about voter fraud, have made clear they want to overturn the election in large part by excluding ballots from Black voters. Without Wayne County, Mich., which is heavily African American, Giuliani declared on Thursday, Trump could have won the state — as if the 15th Amendment and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were nonexistent.
Giuliani’s news conference meandered from debunked claims about Dominion Voting Systems to a scheme somehow involving Hugo Chávez (dead since 2013). The event had virtually nothing to do with post-election lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, of which Trump has so far lost 32 (in many, campaign officials — including Giuliani —- have admitted there was no fraud).
Let us not dwell on the details. Or on the shamefulness of state bar authorities in failing to sanction such unprofessional conduct. What is clear is that this is the level of sheer insanity and irrational propaganda that passes for Republican “thinking.” Plainly, Giuliani is representing the president’s views, and because the vast majority of Republicans say Trump should be allowed to exhaust his legal claims, his performance has, in effect, been endorsed by Republican House and Senate leadership, much of right-wing media and the Republican National Committee.
Even worse, Trump has invited Michigan Republican state lawmakers to the White House and even reportedly contacted Monica Palmer, a Republican member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, after she voted to certify the county’s results. (After her chat with the president, Palmer and another Republican on the board wanted to take back their certification votes.) In what is surely its most compelling and descriptive headline of the post-election period, The New York Times declared on Thursday: “Trump Invites State Lawmakers to White House in Bid to Subvert Election.”
Republicans, with help from cynical right-wing propaganda outlets, have convinced a great many Republicans that their delusional poppycock is true. Polls now show a high percentage of Republicans do not believe President-elect Joe Biden won the election, even though he garnered 306 electoral votes and beat Trump by almost 6 million votes. As a result, Republicans have undermined the essence of democracy and made a mockery of our international commitment to free and fair elections.
We may not be able to prevent Giuliani from spouting crazy allegations, but there is plenty that responsible, patriotic Americans can do.
First, respectable networks should not cover live any of the Trump lawyers’ events. (They do not cover insane people ranting on a street corner, do they?)
Second, news outlets must hound every Republican lawmaker, official and candidate either to denounce or condone the abuse of the courts to disenfranchise voters. The two Senate Republican candidates in Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have joined in the spurious claims of fraud with baseless attacks on the state’s Republican secretary of state; their opponents should tie them to Trump and Giuliani’s antics.
Third, state and federal officials and the Biden transition team should vow to investigate any efforts by Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., or any other Republican politician who attempts to sway election officials or otherwise undermine free and fair elections.
Fourth, private actors (TV advertisers, business leaders, social media) need to stop enabling anti-democratic activities and slanderous accusations designed to deprive millions of Americans of their right to have their votes counted. Instead of being “labeled” as disputed, Trump’s tweets and Facebook posts should be removed for habitual violation of the platforms’ self-imposed terms of service. Business leaders must recognize Biden as president-elect (as Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others have already done), deplore abuse of the courts and pull financial support from Republicans who refuse to accept the results of a lawful election.
The horrifying spectacle playing out before our eyes should leave little doubt of how far down the rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone and how cowardly and detached from reality Republican elected leaders have become. Clarity is enlightening, but in this case, it is also dispiriting. We have only one functional, rational political party. It’s not enough.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.