Loyalty to a Lie
By Stephen Tuttle | May 15, 2021
Some Republicans have fallen down and they can't, or won't, get up.
This isn't the party of Lincoln, and it's not likely Ronald Reagan would be welcome, either. The governing principles that once underpinned the GOP — small government, balanced budget, strong defense, military non-intervention — have been replaced by the singularly destructive Big Lie.
This top-down orthodoxy, the notion that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, but it was somehow stolen by evil-doers now colors virtually everything party leadership does. This flies in the face of reality, requiring ongoing belief in a lie for which there is no supporting evidence and rejecting a truth for which there is a mountain of evidence. It requires a dismissive approach to dishonesty while maintaining loyalty to a lie.
Donald Trump lost the election. There never was any indication or evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities. Politicians refusing to acknowledge that are either so dangerously delusional they should not be in a position to create laws impacting the rest of us, or they're so coldly cynical their entire public service is a fraud.
The former president's efforts to subvert the election exposed the claims for the fantasies they were. And exposed his advocates as little more than charlatans. Is this what rank-and-file Republicans want?
Is the party really represented by Rudy Giuliani, the president's lead lawyer in his unsuccessful efforts to get the courts to overturn the election? He's now being investigated by the Department of Justice for his various activities with Ukraine during and after the 2020 elections.
Is it represented by another of Trump's lawyers, the Qanon-believing, conspiracy-spouting Lin Wood? He's been asked by the Georgia Bar Association to undergo a mental health assessment.
Or maybe it's Sydney Powell, another lawyer trying to convince the courts the election was full of all manner of voting horrors for which she had no evidence. Now being sued for defamation by the voting machine companies she claimed cheated, her defense is that “reasonable” people would not have accepted her claims as fact.
Those Republicans not willing to adhere to the Big Lie of election fraud, are summarily punished by the party leadership and the more gullible party members. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was booted from her No. 3 leadership position because she did not come close to toeing the party line, opting instead to focus on reality. Those voting to oust her say she wasn't sufficiently on board with the GOP's direction, despite the fact that she voted with the party and with President Trump significantly more often than her replacement. The real reason was that she voted to impeach Trump, one of 10 Republican members of the House to do so.
The infection has also drifted down to the state level. Unable to extricate themselves from the yoke of the Big Lie, Republican-led state legislatures have been busy. Rather than searching for ways to increase their party's support, they've instead decided to suppress their likely opponents’ support and vote. (Some 361 voter suppression laws have been introduced in 47 states but were dead on arrival in Democrat-controlled states.)
Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Utah, Texas, and Florida have already enacted new laws requiring additional levels of identification, partisan poll watching, restricting early voting, restricting voting by mail, limiting polling places, eliminating drop-off boxes for early ballots, or some combination. Similar bills are now coursing through 26 state legislatures, and all that are enacted will be challenged in court. Those that tend to disenfranchise communities of interest — like racial minorities, the poor, the disabled, or the elderly — will be discarded by local, state, and federal judges.
All of it is being done in direct service to the Big Lie. GOP state legislators the country over are happy to tell us this is all to eliminate irregularities and fraud and restore voters' confidence in the election system. Never mind that there were no widespread irregularities nor fraud, and the only reason anybody has lost confidence in the election system is because those folks told that lie to their voters early and often and continue to perpetuate it even now.
There was a brief moment immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection when it appeared national Republican leadership was going to step out of the Trumpian darkness and back into the light of day. But they couldn't tolerate the sunlight and have led their party right back into the shadows.
Worst of all for Republicans, they are stuck in the past, reliving the same campaign and making the same fraudulent claims over and over though the result never changes. They need to move on from the Big Lie and accept the Big Truth: Donald Trump lost fairly, and it's time for Republicans to start writing their next chapter instead of trying to rewrite an old one.