Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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In Our View: Trump’s self-serving lies undermine democracy

The Columbian

For four years, Donald Trump has saturated the American landscape with lies. Some assertions have been relatively harmless but easily disproved, such as those about the size of the crowd for his inauguration. Others have been more consequential, such as those that downplayed the danger of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fact-checkers at The Washington Post have tracked more than 25,000 false or misleading statements from the president during his four years in office. The drip, drip, drip of lies both large and small has softened the ground for burying the seeds of mistrust and allowing them to take root while simultaneously weakening the foundation of our democracy. It is a weakness that will linger long after Joe Biden is sworn in as president after defeating Trump in the November election.

Today, Congress will count the official Electoral College votes submitted by the states in the wake of the election. Biden won 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump, a decisive victory that coincides with his advantage of 7 million in the popular vote.

Despite that, Trump has continued to insist that he won the election. He has said it was rigged. He has made baseless claims of voter fraud. And his legal team has filed roughly 60 lawsuits challenging results in battleground states, with one minor legal victory to show for it.

Challenges to the results have been duly considered by the courts — as they should be — and have been found to be without merit. States have certified the results, and on Dec. 14 the Electoral College vote went as expected.

And still, Trump persists.

Sunday, an audio recording of a phone call between Trump and Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, was released and revealed details of Trump’s disregard for democracy. “So look, all I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump says, offering no proof to support his egregious abuse of power in attempting to steal an election.

Despite that, more than two dozen Republican members of the House and about one dozen GOP senators have said they will issue challenges when the electoral results are read today. Challenges are not unusual; in 2017, then-vice president Biden gaveled down Democratic objections to Trump’s election because those objections had not been submitted in writing and later declared “it’s over.”

But never before has a losing candidate been so outspoken in riling up supporters to challenge election results. Never before has a candidate hinted at violence in an effort to undermine the United States’ election system. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!,” Trump wrote on Twitter last month.

The absurdity is calamitous, sowing the divisions upon which Trump has feasted and which have undermined our nation. While Americans have come to expect the worst from a president who persistently ignores norms and decorum in favor of selfish desires, the fact that a large number of people believe him reflects widespread cognitive dissonance.

Trump is a proven liar. As president, he has lied about items large and small, beginning with his first day in office and leading a spokesperson to inject the phrase “alternative facts” into the lexicon. There are no alternative facts when it comes to the election; votes have been counted, audited and certified, and Joe Biden will be inaugurated Jan. 20 — adhering to the will of the American people.

While we can understand that many people voted for Trump, it defies logic to believe that he is telling the truth about the election.