When the history of these times is written, many individuals and groups will have much to answer for because they aided and abetted President Donald Trump’s increasingly unhinged conspiracy theories about the results of the election – which, as any sensible person knows, he lost.
We’ve come to a point where Trump and his enablers have implicated the following in a sweeping conspiracy: hundreds of state and local officials, including several GOP governors; state judges and federal judges (including federal appointees put on the bench by Trump); companies that make voting software; people who counted the votes; a dead Venezuelan president; the FBI; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice (including Attorney General William Barr); the media and a host of others. All apparently joined forces in a massive conspiracy to deny Trump a second term.
The motivation for some of these actors remains murky, but that no longer matters to the people barreling through the fever swamps on Trump’s crazy train. Have no doubt that leaders of Religious Right groups are sitting in the first car.
Among them is Mathew Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group. Staver issued an email fund-raising appeal recently with the tagline “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…” The “smoke” in this case consisted of the same vague stories and unsubstantiated claims that Trump began circulating shortly after it became apparent that he had lost the election.
“More election fraud incident reports are being reported,” Staver blared. He went on to add that a “retired three-star U.S. Air Force Lt. General is claiming he has firsthand knowledge of computer software being used to tamper with election results.”
The anonymous general could just as easily claim that he observed space aliens descend from a flying saucer and do the foxtrot behind a 7-Eleven. Shocking story – but where’s his proof? There’s an old saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In this case, I’d settle for regular old evidence, but Staver doesn’t even have that – he just has more wild tales. (Staver’s far from the only one peddling this nonsense. For more examples of Christian nationalists backing Trump’s claims, see history professor Jon Fea’s blog.)
The conspiracy theory being pushed by Trump and his allies is far from harmless. It undermines our democracy, and it puts lives at risk. Consider Christopher Krebs, former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who became a target for right-wing wrath after he debunked Trump’s baseless charges of widespread election fraud.
Krebs, whose agency worked with state and local officials to ensure the election was safe from hackers, issued a statement through CISA reading, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
For his trouble, Krebs got fired via a tweet (of course) and is now dealing with threats. One of the most appalling came from Trump attorney Joe DiGenova, who, during an appearance on a conservative radio show, called Krebs “a class A moron” who should be “drawn and quartered, taken out at dawn and shot.”
The allegedly “moral” forces of the Religious Right have cast their lot with such people. It didn’t have to be this way. In the wake of the election, Christian nationalist groups faced a choice: They could stand with Trump and his marauding gang who are intent on tearing down American democracy for the sake of one man’s ego, or they could side with the truth (as unpalatable as it may be to them).
To no one’s surprise, they chose Trump over America. And with that fateful move, they also made a series of other choices: They chose to trash the foundational principle of one person, one vote. They chose to oppose our system of selecting leaders through fair, democratic elections – and maturely accepting the results. They chose to stand for invective, lies and threats over rational discourse.
Staver and his cronies may claim to be patriots but make no mistake, everything they are saying and doing runs counter to what this country is about. But like their hero Trump, they long ago lost the ability to feel shame and simply don’t care.
All of us who do care, however, have an obligation – indeed a duty – to call out their behavior for what it is: a disgrace to American values.
Photo: Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani speaks outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia Nov. 7