Hundreds of rioters ransacked the Capitol in Washington last week, but countless other Americans were responsible as well. They include those who remain silent even though they know that the motivating claims of voter fraud have been groundless.
We need only look back to the prior presidential election four years ago.
In the days following the 2016 election, Donald Trump insisted that hundreds of outsiders had been bused into New Hampshire to vote against him illegally. He continued to make that claim many times — as recently as a rally in Manchester 11 months ago.
Trump said other things about the vote in 2016, including that more than 3 million ballots for his opponent had been cast illegally across the nation that year.
Tellingly, in all the time since he first made those claims, Trump has never provided a scintilla of proof to support them.
He certainly had the opportunity. In 2017 he established a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. With the full power and authority of the White House behind it, here was a golden chance to put election fraud on display. But no. Trump shut down the commission after less than a year, complaining that the states — including a great many governed by members of his own party — weren’t helping.
So, Trump has produced no credible proof of election irregularity in 2016.
Similarly, he’s produced no credible proof of election irregularity in 2020, despite a daily litany of claims to that effect. Meanwhile, since November he and his campaign have gone to court more than 50 times, and have come away empty-handed in all cases but one — a Pennsylvania case concerning the amount of time available to a small number of voters to fix errors on their ballots.
What does this tell us?
It could be that the allegations and arguments that he brought to court simply didn’t have any factual basis.
Another possibility — as imaginative as it is — is that the courts just don’t like Trump. Following a survey of 1,900 registered voters last month, the widely respected polling firm Morning Consult reported that a startling 56 percent of Republicans said they were convinced the courts — including ones with judges appointed by Trump — are biased against him.
With that kind of thinking, you can understand how and why so many people today choose to believe that election fraud occurred in 2020 even without evidence to support that belief. They apparently don’t need hard proof; why else would Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, so confidently tell ABC News that “everybody” knows that elections in New Hampshire are rotten while declining to hand over documented examples of it?
This is dangerous no matter what your party registration and no matter whom you support for public office. A sign of the danger is the ransacked Capitol building in Washington; and the implication is of future acts of violence that are far more damaging and destabilizing.
Responsible Americans, particularly those who supported Donald Trump in 2020, need to not merely accept the results of last November’s elections but stand up now and say so publicly.
To say nothing now is to allow lies about elections and election results to thrive and propagate.
To say nothing now is to do no better than our own governor who, in his inauguration speech last week, claimed that elections went well in New Hampshire but that elections in other states were a mess.
To say nothing now is to give comfort to those who insist without evidence that the election last November was stolen, and that rampaging violence makes things better.
To say nothing now is, in fact, to join the unruly mob, and help set the stage for further damage to the democracy that we share. To say nothing is to stand in the ranks of the rioters themselves.