Bill Bridger: National integrity and accountability
Prior to the 2020 election, Mr. Trump stated that voting by mail should be prohibited because it would lead to fraud. The president does not have the authority to prevent states from voting by mail, and many states do.
In our country, this process has been investigated and audited and no significant fraud has ever been found.
This election was conducted during the worst pandemic in 100 years. The vast majority of scientists were advising social distancing. This led to several states allowing or expanding voting by mail.
Trump lost the election. He contested this, claiming that he had obviously won, that there was massive fraud, and that it was illegal for states to have changed their rules to allow more voting by mail.
Trump’s lawyers took these claims to more than 60 courts. Subject to the rules of law, they were allowed to present their arguments and any evidence they had. They lost.The courts adjudicated and said no evidence of significant fraud was presented and that states acted legally in allowing voting by mail.
Trump’s own Department of Justice and directors in his administration responsible for cybersecurity and election integrity stated that there was no evidence of significant fraud and that the election had been secure and fair.
Changing the complaint from evidence of fraud to “irregularities” does not change the facts.
Our country has free speech, and Trump can continue to say that he disagrees, but when the highest courts you can appeal to rule against you, you need to accept the verdict and stop trying to reverse the decision. In our democracy, with an independent judiciary, this is how it works.
Trump instead started a series of extraordinary, unprecedented attempts to overturn the election. He tried to coerce some state officials to declare their state’s votes fraudulent and to appoint their electors to him. The states refused.
He pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to accept the electors’ votes. Pence refused. Trump then urged legislators to object to states’ electoral votes even through this had no chance of success.
At the same time Trump called for a massive protest rally to object to Congress certifying the election. He fired up his mob with inflammatory rhetoric. They invaded and ransacked the Capitol building. Some in the mob wanted to execute Pence and members of Congress. For hours while the mob was attacking the Capitol, Trump watched on TV and said nothing to stop it.
The insurrection ultimately failed. The mob was dispersed. Biden’s win was certified. The House, now with some Republican support, has impeached Trump for inciting an insurrection.
Far-right extremists in the mob that attacked the Capitol believe that we have a tyrannical government that needs to be overthrown by force. They have organized, armed themselves and conducted military drills for this purpose. Some have said this is the start of the revolution.
They are classified as terrorists by the FBI. The FBI says they are the greatest internal threat to our country. Our nation’s Capitol and many state capitols now look like war zones. They are surrounded by barriers and guarded by armed military personnel, to resist further violence by these extremists.
Trump has repeatedly called these members of the far right “good people, patriots,” and says that he loves them. These extremists have been encouraged by Trump and are still threatening further violence.
Editorial columns and letters to The Union are excusing Trump’s actions and the violence he incited. Their arguments are that Democrats have contested elections in the past, that Democrats harassed Trump while he was president, and that Black Lives Matter groups were violent, too.
No. Trump’s actions are unprecedented and are inexcusable. This violence at the Capitol was an attempt to overthrow our government. It was not justified. It is not excused because some BLM protests were violent. I am not excusing BLM violence. Anyone identified committing crimes during a BLM protest should be prosecuted. I believe in the rule of law. Without that we have anarchy.
A commission to investigate why the courts did not accept “reams” of alleged irregularities as actual evidence of fraud is not a solution. No one has presented evidence that any of the judges involved are corrupt or incompetent.
Some Republicans are now saying that we should not pursue any action to hold Trump accountable because it would be too divisive. Trump remains defiant and unrepentant. We absolutely need to hold him accountable so this behavior does not happen again.
Bill Bridger is a retired physician living in Nevada City.
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