“Trump is now attacking our Democracy. Any Elected R who doesn’t condemn this anti-American thug will carry a moral stain forever.” – Mike Murphy, Republican strategist, 2016
When it came down to the time to make hard decisions, the GOP leadership ignored Murphy’s admonishments back in 2016, and now we have a bitterly divided nation, encouraged by Trump who has alleged all sorts of criminal activity went on in our voting process, saying, “They’re trying to steal an election. They’re trying to rig an election.”
A history of anti-democratic statements and actions by President Trump should worry true Republicans, not only Democrats and Independents. Trump’s desire for authoritarian rule is slowly but surely tearing down our tradition-based democracy. There are many examples, but due to space, I’ll just detail a few.
President Trump has been sowing the seeds of doubt about our democracy since 2016 when he tweeted, “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD.” (https://www.vox.com/2016/10/19/13308020/rigged-election-donald-trump-voter-fraud).
And “The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president.” (https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/republicans-react-to-trumps-rigged-election-229845)
He also stated, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.” (https://time.com/4560707/donald-trump-election-loss-rigged/)
However, the only rigging that went on in the run-up to the election was on Trump’s side. Specifically, Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, stated that at Trump’s direction he paid a computer firm to add pro-Trump votes in a 2015 poll of presidential candidates and a 2016 poll identifying top business leaders. (https://apnews.com/article/a4c6f82b5b904a189a2e598255301554). Plus, the Trump campaign was heavily involved with Russian intelligence efforts to undermine Clinton, as the 2018 bi-partisan Senate Report points out (https://www.npr.org/2020/08/18/903512647/senate-report-former-trump-aide-paul-manafort-shared-campaign-info-with-russia).
Trump’s 2020 outrageous rhetoric is just a repeat of 2016, with Trump saying pre-election, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged,” and that Biden would “replace American freedom with left-wing fascism” (https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/17/politics/donald-trump-campaign-swing/index.html). And his unforgettable, “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”
No wonder his followers are up in arms about his loss.
Trump’s 2016 remarks about the courts are also directly relevant today. For example, “If Al Gore or George Bush had agreed three weeks before the election and waived their right to a challenge or a re-count, there would be no Supreme Court case,” implying he would not accept the vote count but would challenge it in court, as he has subsequently done. Obviously, this is why Trump pushed so hard to have his third nominee appointed to SCOTUS. It is now a 6-3 conservative majority with half the conservatives owing their position to Trump, which in his thinking means he prevails regardless of the merits of the case.
In 2016, Trump supporter Roger Stone (whose sentence was later commuted by Trump) threatened a “bloodbath” if the election was “stolen” from Trump through “voter fraud” (https://www.breitbart.com/social-justice/2016/07/29/roger-stone-milo-show-trump-can-fight-voter-fraud/). Now, Trump’s dog whistles have become even louder with him openly telling right wing groups supporting him to “stand by.” My hope is that these are empty threats. But my belief, based on Trump’s history of anti-democratic actions, is that they are not.
As a former GOP elected official, I find it reprehensible that Republican Party leaders like House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senator Lindsey Graham continue to back someone who is set on tearing down our democracy by saying that legally submitted votes should not be counted.
Trump’s a divider, not a uniter, and never should have ever been elected in the first place. But he will not go away even though he is no longer President. He will be a thorn in the side of our nation. My only hope that our democracy learns from its mistakes, but I have my doubts.