The Supreme Court repudiation of President Trump’s desperate bid for a second term not only shredded his effort to overturn the will of voters: It also was a blunt rebuke to Republican leaders in Congress and the states who were willing to damage American democracy by embracing a partisan power grab over a free and fair election.
The court’s decision on Friday night, an inflection point after weeks of legal flailing by Mr. Trump and ahead of the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday, leaves the president’s party in an extraordinary position. Through their explicit endorsements or complicity of silence, much of the G.O.P. leadership now shares responsibility for the quixotic attempt to ignore the nation’s founding principles and engineer a different verdict from the one voters cast in November.
Many regular Republicans supported this effort, too — a sign that Mr. Trump has not just bent the party to his will, but pressed a mainstay of American politics for nearly two centuries into the service of overturning an election outcome and assaulting public faith in the electoral system. The G.O.P. sought to undo the vote by such spurious means that the Supreme Court quickly rejected the argument.
Even some Republican leaders delivered a withering assessment of the 126 G.O.P. House members and 18 attorneys general who chose to side with Mr. Trump over the democratic process, by backing a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to throw out some 20 million votes in four key states that cemented the president’s loss.
“The act itself by the 126 members of the United States House of Representatives, is an affront to the country,” said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It’s an offense to the Constitution and it leaves an indelible stain that will be hard for these 126 members to wipe off their political skin for a long time to come.”
Speaking on CNN on Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican, said, “What happened with the Supreme Court, that’s kind of it, where they’ve kind of exhausted all the legal challenges; we’ve got to move on.” It was time, he said, for Congress to “actually do something for the American people, surrounding the vaccines, surrounding Covid.”
With direct buy-in from senior officials like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and the Republican leader in House, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the president’s effort required the party to promote false theory upon unsubstantiated claim upon outright lie about unproved, widespread fraud — in an election that Republican and Democratic election officials agreed was notably smooth given the challenges of the pandemic.
And it meant that Republican leaders now stand for a new notion: that the final decisions of voters can be challenged without a basis in fact if the results are not to the liking of the losing side, running counter to decades of work by the United States to convince developing nations that peaceful transfers of power are key to any freely elected government’s credibility.
“From a global perspective this certainly looks like many of the cases we’ve seen around the world where an incumbent tries to hold onto power,’’ said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy abroad with support from both parties.
Though the decisions by the Supreme Court and other courts meant that in the end, American “institutions have held strong,’’ he added, “there’s no question that people around the world are now looking to America and it’s really important for Americans of all parties to stand up for the rule of law and for democracy.”
Republicans who have resisted Mr. Trump’s campaign agreed, predicting that the party was risking its own destruction.
“I keep comparing it somewhat to Jonestown,” said former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, referring to the cult that ended in a tragic mass suicide. “They’ve all drunk the Kool Aid. It just hasn’t killed them yet.” [Continue reading…]