Joe Biden’s election as president will be affirmed by the Electoral College vote today. Thanks to the fact that we still have an independent judiciary, Trump’s coup attempt has collapsed. Trump had apparently assumed, or hoped, that “his” judges were as bereft of integrity as he himself. Instead, Republican as well as Democratic-appointed judges laughed the Trump legal teams out of court.
The attempt by a sitting president to overturn his election defeat is completely unprecedented in American history—a unique assault on democracy. But if Trump’s immediate objective—his retention of power—has been frustrated, he has nonetheless succeeded in establishing a narrative—the stolen election—that he and his co-partisans will utilize to delegitimate the Biden administration and its agenda. It’s a narrative that does great damage to our democracy by falsely casting doubt on the bedrock assumption of free and fair elections.
You would think that the president-elect would have something to say about this, but Biden has remained largely silent. Maybe, in his wishful self-image as a national unifier, he wants to avoid divisive rhetoric; maybe he doesn’t want to get into a verbal slugfest with the president. Or, hopefully, maybe he’s just been waiting for the right moment. The electoral college vote is surely an opportune moment. Biden needs to tell the American people that Trump’s attempt to steal the election is abominable and un-American. Most Trump voters won’t believe him, but it still needs to be said. It is the moral responsibility of the President of the United States to tell the people the truth, and the most important truth of American politics right now is that our democracy has been critically threatened by an unscrupulous, malignant narcissist occupying the White House. (I also think it is morally incumbent upon Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats to pass an impeachability resolution, as I proposed in my last post.) Failure to tell that truth loudly and clearly would in effect serve to normalize Trump’s post-election behavior, suggesting that it’s just a new departure in hardball politics and we’ll have to get used to it.
Biden’s continued silence would be politically inept as well as morally remiss. You don’t refute lies by ignoring them. It is past time to launch the truthful counter-narrative that it was Trump and the Republicans who sought to steal the election. That the Republican Party and its cult leader have made themselves enemies of democracy. If even a small minority—say, 10%–of Trump voters can be made to recognize the fraudulence of Trump and his enablers, the Democrats win by landslides in 2022 and 2024.
The 2020 election is over but Trump has already launched the campaigns for 2022 and 2024. It’s time to begin the counter-offensive. What do you say, Joe?