Preserve Our Democracy

0/25/2021

Frank Merritt

Protecting Our Democracy

            The legitimacy of the 2020 election was attacked by Donald Trump even before the spring primaries of 2020.  In spite of polls that universally put him behind, he stated that the only way he could lose the presidential election was by fraud, and that claim was repeated by him many, many times.  He tried to have the election called in his favor on election night, before mail-in votes could be counted.  When that failed, and Biden had won, his supporters introduced over 60 legal challenges to state election counts, in spite of this election being “the most secure in American history”[1].  All of these challenges were rejected by the courts because no evidence of fraud was ever presented in court.  Finally, in an attempt to stop the validation of state ballots, Trump provoked the violent January 6 attack on the Capitol.[2]

 

            Further details of the efforts to overturn the election emerged in August and September with the publication of the book Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and with the release of letters and documents found by the House committee investigating the January 6 attack.   Letters[3] were drafted by the Trump administration’s Jeffery Clark, intended to be sent by the Justice Department to 6 battleground states urging the partisan state legislatures to consider replacing the approved electors with their own new slate, and falsely stating that they had the legal right to do this.  This plan was not executed only because of the threatened resignations of all senior Justice Department officials on January 3.

            Trump’s lawyer, John Eastman, also devised a 6-step plan[4] whereby Mike Pence would (illegally) refuse to accept the authorized state electors if there was any challenge to them.  After extensive consultations with colleagues, Pence determined that he did not have the authority to reject a certified slate, and could do nothing other than count the authorized votes on January 6.  That is what he was doing when the assault on the Capitol forced a temporary halt to the proceedings.

 

            Since then, there have been a number of bills and laws passed in GOP-controlled states to give the state legislatures the power to overturn future election results.  Election officials who defended the integrity of their election results, and who refused to bend under pressure, have had their power curtailed or have been replaced by others who are more loyal to Trump, and who say that the 2020 election was stolen.  The fiasco of the Maricopa County audit in Arizona has set a precedent of sorts, and may well serve as a model for future claims of voter fraud, and for future audits in the 2022 midterm elections.  This sets the stage for a potential Constitutional crisis next year.

 

            The danger of this cannot be overstated.  It is explored in detail in an op-ed[5] written by Robert Kagan, who is a Republican, a neoconservative, and a former advisor to several Republican administrations.  Kagan’s full op-ed is given in reference 5 below.  It is important for all voters -- Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – to read this and evaluate it in the light of current events.  

 

            For all citizens, the right to vote and the right to hold free and binding elections is the most fundamental right in a democracy.  It is the bedrock of our system of government.  We must fight and defeat these attacks at every level.  Elections should be overseen by non-partisan or bi-partisan election authorities, who are committed ensuring that the process is fair – not to ensuring a particular outcome.

We urge all citizens to strongly support the “For the People Act”[6].  The fight to do that is not over.

 

  1. Joint Statement of GCC and CISA, Nov. 12, 2020

  2. The Assault on the Capitol, from  New York Times (40-min video)

  3. Trumps DOJ Pressure Campaign, Devlin Barrett, Washington Post.

  4. The Eastman Memo, from the Washington Post

  5. Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, Op-Ed by Robert Kagan.

  6. For The People Act, by Daniel Weiner, Gareth Fowler.