America’s presidential election is over. Officially. Finally.
In truth, it’s really been over for several weeks. The declaration four days after Election Day first suggested it, and the various state recounts and audits, as well as the dozens of lawsuits rejected by various courts, across the country confirmed it. On Monday, the Electoral College put it to a close.
Joe Biden will be our next president.
It’s time for all Americans to come to terms with that.
It’s time to recognize that President Donald Trump’s campaign centered on continually charging voter fraud, made while providing no solid evidence in court to back its claims up, is potentially inflicting immense harm on our democracy.
It may also be time to question the priorities of those who want to continue waging this election fight to the bitter end — and beyond.
Trump himself has tossed around “voter fraud” accusations since 2016, when he won the presidency through the Electoral College even though Hillary Clinton collected more votes. Trump claimed voter fraud to rationalize that shortcoming, even though a subsequent investigation authorized by his own White House found nothing to the charge.
This year, when the COVID-19 pandemic set in and it became clear that a record number of votes would be cast early — a trend which generally favors Democrats — the “voter fraud” talk was resurrected and amplified. The charges began circulating last summer, even before votes were cast, because Trump and his allies knew what was coming in November.
The unsubstantiated charges of voter fraud and cries to “stop the steal” not only gnaw at the integrity of this election but also denigrate the thousands of election officials and workers — from all political backgrounds and parties — dedicated to ensuring that this election, held in the middle of a pandemic, ran as smoothly and fairly as possible. By all assessments — from people in both parties, and from foreign observers — that’s exactly what happened, and those workers should be commended.
Nevertheless, we’ve been subjected since Election Day to dubious fraud claims and conspiracies. They’ve fueled dozens of court filings that, in some cases, were so poorly written that they wouldn’t have passed muster in a first-year law class. It seemed more like legalistic spit-balling to see what might possibly stick, rather than address a grievous breakdown in the voting process.
The lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general last week against four battleground states was a desperate “Hail Mary” effort that had no plausible grounds and virtually no chance of success. And yet, 17 Republican attorneys general across the U.S. — including the South Dakota and Nebraska AGs — dutifully backed the lawsuit, as did 126 Republican congressmen. It was an act not to protect democracy but to contort it, compromise it, scuttle it. The U.S. Supreme Court rightfully dismissed this effort out of hand. The AGs and lawmakers who backed it (which did NOT include South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson, by the way) have some explaining to do as to why they apparently placed their party allegiance over the constitutional framework that governs our country.
However, these efforts have been successful at one thing: they have created even more angry wedges into our already-polarized nation. These are gaping wounds that will not heal easily.
But that is the next test that our democracy faces.
For this moment, the will of the people has been upheld in court after court, from the Supreme Court down to the state levels, and now by the Electoral College. That’s the end of it. Any efforts that follow are bent on compromising an American election, not protecting the essential process that this nation was built upon so long ago.