KANEW: “TENNESSEE REPUBLICANS ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON DEMOCRACY”

TENNESSEE REPUBLICANS ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON DEMOCRACY

On November 3rd Donald Trump lost the presidential election. I know it’s hard for some people to hear that, but that’s all the more reason it needs to be said. It was close in some key swing states, but President-Elect Joe Biden is now up by tens of thousands of votes even in those states, and Republican secretaries of state across the country are telling us there is zero real evidence of widespread fraud. 

Obviously that hasn’t stopped President Trump from refusing to accept defeat. He told us he would only accept the outcome if he won before the election, and he has followed through. He now tweets incessantly, day after day about how he has been cheated – pointing to vote counts being changed, dead people voting, Republican observers not being allowed into the counting rooms… all of which have been debunked one by one by one. Trump is tweeting about fraud publicly while his lawyers admit in court, under oath, that they are not actually saying any such fraud took place.

Simply put, there is no evidence of widespread fraud. He is lying. There is no debating that. 

What is up for debate is why. Is it simply so he can drag this out as long as possible to give himself more time to milk money from his supporters? Money which he claims is going to help him fight the lawsuits he keeps losing, but which the fine print tells us he is stuffing into his own pockets

Or does he really think he can take this all the way to the end and overturn this election with the help of Republican-held state legislatures, who would have to turn their backs on democracy, throw out the results of the election in their states, and assign their electors to him without any justification for doing so?

One would hope he knows the latter is an impossibility, since it would essentially mean the end of The American Experiment.

One would hope he would understand that even Republicans in his party would deem that to be a bridge too far.

But would they? If they’re anything like the Republicans in Tennessee, perhaps not. 

So far here in Tennessee, the only prominent Republicans who have been willing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is president-elect are ex-Senators Bob Corker and Bill Frist. Senator Lamar Alexander has said nothing. Governor Lee has expressed his support for Trump’s efforts, as have Senator Marsha Blackburn, senator-elect Bill Hagerty, and both chambers of the Tennessee supermajority legislature. The Tennessee Republican delegation of congressmen have also gone right along with the charade, including Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who told a news network “what we’re seeing is fraud,” but when pressed for specifics pointed to Nevada – where the 3000 ballots in question had already turned out to be mostly military families who had been transferred.

Is this what it has come to, Republicans? One can only imagine the outrage they would be demonstrating had Hillary Clinton refused to concede, especially if she had a 5 million vote deficit in the popular vote rather than the 3 million advantage she ended up with (in fact, they did rip her viciously for even just having questions in the aftermath of 2016).

Or worse yet, imagine their reaction if Obama were doing any of this. 

Perhaps they think they’re just humoring Trump, and that at the end of the day this will have no lasting impact after he inevitably leaves the White House. But that’s shortsighted. Tennessee Republicans had a chance to stand up, finally show some leadership and backbone, and say enough is enough. Instead, they signed up to join this circus and help Trump trash our election process, a favor to our anti-Democracy enemies that ultimately means Trump’s loyal following of millions of Americans will now forever believe this was a rigged election. 

Nobody knows what lasting impact that will have in the days, weeks, and years to come, but what we do know is Tennessee Republicans have shown us they put their loyalty to Trump and their own self-preservation ahead of their commitment to the democratic process that undergirds the very notion of America, and that in itself is the opposite of patriotism.

Free and fair elections, respecting the will of the people, is what makes us who we are as a country. Republicans love to invoke the Founding Fathers when convenient, but any objective reading of their intentions makes it clear they set up our constitution to guard against efforts to drag us back towards the authoritarianism our country was established in opposition to, the tyranny they fought and bled to keep us away from in favor of the freedom to elect our own leaders and center the people’s voice. A freedom many brave Americans have since died to preserve.

This is a dark path we’re heading down, one few would have believed possible even just a few short years ago. This has already become a black eye on our nation’s history, and the further down this road we go, the bigger the stain will be on the reputations of this crop of Tennessee Republicans – a stain which will not soon come off.

Justin Kanew is the Founder of the Tennessee Holler

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