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Former Rep. Steven Rothman. (Photo: Steve Rothman.)

Opinion: The GOP’s efforts to nullify elections are a threat to American democracy

By Steve Rothman, June 10 2021 9:44 am

OPINION

Would we still regard America as the land of liberty and justice if the United States was to become a country where the person who lost the presidential election could be installed as our President anyway?

The answer for most Americans is no.

Yet today, 53% in the Republican Party believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that Trump is the actual President, not Joe Biden—even though both beliefs are factually not true.

Just a few days ago, on May 30, 2021, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, a convicted felon later pardoned by Trump, addressed a QAnon conference  in Dallas, Texas.  He asked: “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar [where that nation’s military overthrew their duly elected government in a coup] can’t happen here [in the United States]? No reason. It should happen here.” He went on to proclaim: “Trump won! He won! He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.”

The Republican state legislatures in Georgia, Texas and Florida are enacting laws that would allow those state legislatures to overturn their presidential and other election results–even if those results were not found to be fraudulent and were certified by that state’s Board of Elections and the state’s Secretary of State.

And we remember January 6, 2021, when Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to have the Republicans in Congress ignore the states’ Electoral College votes, as well as the popular vote, and declare Trump as the winner of the 2020 election–even though Trump lost.

So I ask my fellow Americans: Don’t you see that the anti-democratic, authoritarian efforts and direction of today’s Republican Party pose the greatest threat to our basic voting rights and thus America’s democracy itself?

So many persecuted, tormented and economically oppressed peoples have been blessed to become Americans. We all came here because in America, unlike virtually any other country on Earth, the rule of law and the hope for an ever-more perfect Union provide us our best chance for equal justice and equal opportunity for all. That remains the case today.

The best hope against persecution and tyranny is our democracy, not an autocracy.

The bedrock and irreplaceable foundation of that democracy is that the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, now more than ever, grant us a vote that will be counted.

But today’s GOP and their efforts to overturn the results of valid elections are threatening the sanctity of our votes all across America.

Some would answer that they understand the GOP threat to the acceptance of the electoral winners, but they simply love Donald Trump.

They don’t care to think what if the next person who did not win the presidential election, who might be installed as our next President if these Republicans have their way, could result in a leader who chooses to scapegoat certain groups and engage in corruption and self-enrichment, as has historically been the case with autocrats in world history.

A few even claim that the 6 person “Squad” of Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush present an equal or greater threat than the GOP.

But the Democratic Party is not the one denying the results of the presidential election or seeking to give state legislatures the power to overrule their state’s election results.

And don’t forget that the House Republicans have their extremists, including Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Jim Jordan, Louis Gohmert, Lauren Boebert, Chip Roy and David Nunes—many of whom have made racist or anti-Semitic statements and have supported the actions of white supremacists.

Even if one believes that Trump would be a better President than Biden, isn’t it more important to not overturn the results of a lawful election and thus preserve America’s democracy?

Until recently, I thought the answer to that question was self-evident. But for today’s Republican Party, that is not the case. And that’s not good news for America. It is up to all Americans to speak out, write about and take action to stop the Republican Party from taking steps to deny the winners of our elections from taking office and their legitimacy in office.

And let us hold all elected officials accountable for their statements and their actions–at the ballot box.

Steven R. Rothman represented New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2013.  He is a former Bergen County Surrogate and mayor of Englewood. 

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