The lifeblood of our democratic republic is a system of elections in which municipal, state and national officials maintain or hand over their offices depending on the outcome. Besides the systems for voting, there are elaborate processes for challenging and auditing the results. And there is an orderly transfer of power.
In tyrannies there may be electoral systems but results are corrupted to give the image of legitimacy to a despot. What we face in the United States is an equivalent threat, where the elections are free and fair, but a former president will not accept the legitimacy of the results. In either case, we fail to have a democracy.
Election denialism is a hallmark of MAGA extremism. Working for the election of an independent minded Republican in Easton’s non-partisan local elections this summer gave me as a Democrat a unique look into the mechanics of local MAGA extremism, in a campaign against their candidate Frank Gunsallus.
I hasten to add that this candidate had tremendous support from the rest of the community as the results of the election demonstrate. But MAGA extremists were the ones in the trenches.
Election denialism is alive in a handful of local hard right websites: Easton Gazette, Talbot Chapter of Moms for Liberty, and Radio Free Oxford. They churn limited material including articles on elections by Chris Gleason (Maryland has a “massive election fraud RICO operation”).
Besides election denial, these sites have other priorities, including attacking inclusive curriculum for African American and LGBT+ students and opposing pandemic public health measures, with strands of fundamentalist Christian anti-government paranoia and anti-abortion sentiments woven through.
The real MAGA engine is the current Talbot Republican Central Committee. Most recently it treated Easton to an event challenging the reliability of Maryland’s election system.
This was part of a nationwide traveling road show featuring three different presenters who massage local data to raise questions with election reliability. They seek to give the patina of grassroots by having local organizations as sponsors.
Rudy Giuliani’s events in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania questioning the results of the 2020 election were similar. But Donald Trump supporters filed and lost 62 lawsuits contesting election processes, including vote counting, and the vote certification processes in 9 states.
It’s no different in Maryland. Any serious claim of irregularities here should be taken through the courts not dangled for partisan political purposes to discourage unsuspecting voters.
This election denial event was originally scheduled to be held at unsuspecting Sts. Peter and Paul and Easton Club East before they became aware that this was a partisan political event sponsored by the Talbot Republican Central Committee.
I continue to be reassured by the belief that “the arc of history bends toward justice”. Now my thought for the day is “a democracy if you can keep it”. I suggest all democracy loving people get off the benches, realize what’s at stake, get educated and get involved.