Sunday, December 13, 2020

What can be behind the continued Republican claims of election irregularities?

In an absolutely bizarre and incomprehensible exercise in magical thinking, more and more defeated Republican candidates are alleging that they actually won, and were only displaced by fraudulent and illegal Democratic nefariousness.

Just a few examples: Loren Culp, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor in Washington, who lost the election by 13 percentage points, is now claiming, five weeks after the election, that he was robbed of the governorship by a rigged election; a defeated Republican  congressional candidate in the Democratic stronghold of Los Angeles is refusing to concede; a Republican candidate in Maryland, beaten by a margin of 40%, is loudly complaining about "irregularities" that led to her loss; a Tennessee candidate who lost by 57% is still convinced that she actually won.

This is extraordinary behaviour, especially given that Trump and the Republicans have now lost over 50 legal cases alleging electoral irregularities and fraud, including that big one before the extremely Republican-heavy Supreme Court, supported by an extraordinary 18 Republican states and over 100 Republican lawmakers (oh, and Donald Trump).

So, what can be going on here? Are they all just really bad losers? Do they think that there is some political advantage to be gained? Are they just being browbeaten (and/or hypnotized or threatened) by Trump, who is looking for some moral support in his own sorry legal challenges? Is it supposed to make life for Joe Biden and his incoming administration more difficult in some way (this is one theory for Trump's continued refusal to concede the election)? Like so many things that involve Trump, it's really hard to know, and for us mere mortals to understand.

What is actually happening, though, is that many GOP leaders and rank-and-file Republicans are just becoming more and more embarrassed at these antics. As Larry Hogan, Republican governor of Maryland, wryly commented: "We're beginning to look like we're a banana republic. It's time for them to stop the nonsense. It just gets more bizarre every single day." Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and Trump advisor has called Trump's legal manoeuvres a "national embarrassment". Long-time Republican advisor Karl Rove admonishes, "He's not helping himself or the country ... he is on the edge of looking like a sore loser". On the edge? Most of the world is looking away, embarrassed, as the once-great country of America makes a total fool of itself in the full glare of the international media.

Meantime, pro-Trump rallies and protests are still taking place, some of them violent, and some them with far-right groups front and centre. But these are, by and large, not educated, supposedly responsible people who are looking to represent millions of people in some of the highest offices in the land. Such people are supposed to know better. But then, look at the role model they have before them.

Perhaps the only good thing that could come out of this is that the GOP might completely implode, and shatter into factions for years to come (take note of the "Destroy the GOP" chants at a pro-Trump rally in Washington DC recently).

No comments: