One of the saddest legacies of Donald Trump’s four years in office is the support he has received from Republican lawmakers and other members of the GOP establishment for his lies and baseless claims. For these men and women, party trumps country. This, above all, signals dangerous cracks in our democratic institutions.
Our Founders laid out our government with a series of checks and balances to keep our institutions intact. But they have proven to be meaningless to Trump’s sycophants. The Constitution is either ignored or interpreted in highly partisan ways.
A little over a week after our presidential election, while votes were still being counted (and amid Trump’s constant barrage of Tweets claiming the election was rigged), Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. gave what The New York Times referred to as a “caustic and politically tinged speech” to the conservative Federalist Society. His comments concentrated on the pandemic’s effects on individual liberty, specifically “that liberals posed a growing threat to religious liberty and free speech.” He highlighted Nevada’s decision to limit attendance at religious services while allowing crowded gambling rooms. Perhaps if President Trump had seen fit to initiate country-wide pandemic regulations rather than leave it to the states and individual communities, this wouldn’t have happened (and we would have had more control over both the medical and economic effects of COVID-19). Alito’s remarks were partisan and unwise. The judiciary is supposed to be apolitical.
Our elected leaders should work for the American people and support the Constitution. Instead, the men pictured here supported Trump’s voter fraud claims. They enabled the president’s refusal to accept the election results and encouraged him to continue to question the will of the people. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated with a grin the transition to President Trump’s second term would be smooth. Making jokes during political strife is not funny. Both Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz support Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud. Graham has been accused by Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, of suggesting he throw out some ballots in the state’s very close presidential vote. And Attorney General Bill Barr politicized the Justice Department when he authorized federal prosecutors to investigate these dubious claims. Rudy Giuliani is undisciplined at best and adds nothing but rhetoric to Trump’s assertions. President Trump remains steadfast, refusing to concede the election to President-Elect Joe Biden.
Since news sources declared Biden the winner of the presidential election, the Trump administration has done nothing to help the incoming president. The General Services Administration won’t release funds for the president-elect’s transition team, nor are Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris receiving any coronavirus or security briefings. As Thomas Balcerski, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University who has studied transitions and inaugurations, stated, “This is unprecedented in modern times. President Trump has once again managed to politicize an aspect of our democratic governance that is supposed to be depoliticized.” Rather than promote a timely and smooth change of power, Trump continues to tweet “I WON THE ELECTION.” And his administration is waiting for the election to be officially certified before he will follow protocol. Our adversaries are watching this rocky transition, and Trump’s actions jeopardize our national security.
How can we address the misuse of power we have witnessed for the last four years? Both Bloomberg and The New York Times have suggested we add a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to codify presidential conduct, strengthen voting rights, prevent the elimination of watchdog offices, bolster conflict of interest and ethics regulations, and prevent presidents from pardoning themselves and their friends.
Until we address these issues, we will have politicians who serve themselves and friends rather than Americans who elected them. The president ruled this country and lost his election for a second term on a pile of lies and deceit. And the men pictured here helped him. They are as complicit as Donald Trump for the divisiveness and lack of leadership that has become the real plague in this country.
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Follow the history of our country's political intransigence from 2010-2020 through a seven-part exhibit of these posters on Google Arts & Culture.