Update from Wisconsin: Election 2020 is finally over

North Carolina electors gathered yesterday in the State Capitol Building. Photo courtesy of David Delk

Trump and the GOP fail to subvert the will of the voters

The Electoral College vote affirming the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States made official what we’ve known since early November — that Biden won and President Donald Trump lost.

But Trump turned what should have been a smooth transition into an agonizing fight. Republicans at both the state and national levels joined him in denying the clear results and pushing lawsuits, hearings, and protest rallies to carry the message that Biden’s win was not legitimate and the U.S. election process cannot be trusted. 

The GOP has led us into dark, dangerous, unprecedented political terrain. Only because the margin was so clear did the Republicans fail in their efforts to subvert the will of the voters. If Trump had lost by fewer votes in Wisconsin and elsewhere you can bet his campaign lawyers and his many GOP enablers would have tried to take their effort to steal the election all the way to the hoop.

As it is, they’ve allowed partisanship to poison Americans’ sense of fair play, showed that they are willing to throw away our shared set of rules and have undermined the bedrock principle of a peaceful transfer of power. It’s not just Trump and his buffoonish lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani who are willing to cheat, lie, and throw anything at the wall to see if it might stick. It’s also Wisconsin’s Republican officials on the Elections Commission and in the Legislature, which ran a ridiculously one-sided hearing on Friday to air baseless claims of voter fraud and wrongdoing by Wisconsin’s election clerks. Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Appleton), the chair of the committee that held those hearings, still won’t admit Trump lost. Most ominously, as my colleague Melanie Conklin reports, Republican legislators are seeking input from partisan “poll watchers” on rigging future elections.

As Justice Jill Karofsky put it during the Trump campaign’s oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Republican attack on votes in Dane and Milwaukee counties, and their attempt to change election rules after the fact, amounted to not just “seeding, but watering and nurturing doubt about a legitimate election.”

Long after Trump is finally escorted from the White House we will continue to reap the poisonous fruits of that effort. Read more

Dissecting Trump’s weird, rambling Rose Garden speech on policing reform

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 16: Surrounded by members of law enforcement, U.S. President Donald Trump holds up an executive order he signed on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities” during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Was anyone comforted by Donald Trump’s Rose Garden speech announcing his executive order on safe policing?

“There are bad police officers,” Trump acknowledged, “but they are very tiny.”

This statement came after the president assured the families of Black people killed by police, “We are going to pursue what we said we will be pursuing, and we will be pursuing it strongly.”

The president went on at length praising the cops — right after reading out the names of Black people killed by police and saying he had just met with their families (the family of George Floyd was notably absent from the list). “To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones will not have died in vain.” 

Then Trump outlined his proposal for more funding for police departments, especially for high-tech weaponry for which “cost is no object.” He promoted a ban on chokeholds that includes a giant loophole if police feel that their lives are in danger.

Trump denounced violence against police officers by protesters, and repeated his offer of military backup. The federal government stands  “ready, willing and able to help, as we did in Minneapolis,” he declared. “There will be no more looting or arson and the penalty will be very grave.”

After declaring that “what’s needed now is not more stoking of fear and division,” Trump stoked fears of “riots and looting.”

Then he took a shot at President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, claiming they had not tried to prevent police violence, as Trump said he was doing with his executive order.  “The reason they didn’t try,” he explained, “is because they had no idea how to do it.”

“Americans want law and order. They demand law and order,” he added. “They may not say it. They may not talk about it. But that’s what they want. Some of them may not even know that’s what they want.”

Trump — giving Americans what they didn’t know they wanted.

“Nobody has ever delivered results like we’ve delivered,” Trump declared. That’s for sure.

If Trump’s photo op surrounded by an overwhelmingly white, male collection of police officers as he signed his executive order wasn’t enough to get the point across, there was his shout-out to the sanctity of the Confederate monuments being toppled throughout the South: “We must build upon our heritage, not tear it down.”

Beyond these obvious appeals to racism, the main message of Trump’s speech was: I’m finished.  Read more