Transition travesty: the expanding Republican alternate universe

After years of falsely saying Democrats “refused to accept” the 2016 election — actually, it was Trump refusing to accept losing the popular vote — we always knew he’d never accept a 2020 defeat.

Descending farther into its alternate universe, now one where Biden didn’t win the election, the administration is flouting legal requirements for cooperating with the transition. In 2000, even before the Supreme Court sealed Bush’s razor-thin victory, the Clinton administration was already working with Bush’s team on the transition.

But Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday promised “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Challenged by a reporter’s question, he dismissed it as “ridiculous.” Attorney General Barr has announced there will be vote investigations — without citing any evidence warranting them. (The Justice Department official in charge of such matters resigned in protest.) Congressional Republicans are all-in on this disgraceful opera buffa, insisting the election is not over, it’s not up to the media to decide it, no results have yet been certified, it was a giant fraud, Trump should to pursue all legal remedies, and may actually have won.

Reality: the news media merely report vote numbers that state election authorities officially announce. “Certifying” them is a mere formality later. Reality: Biden was elected, by a clear and actually sizable margin. Growing as vote counting continues. Reality: no conceivable lawsuit or recount will reverse that. This is not like 2000 where the outcome hinged on a few hundred unclear ballots in a single state. Here tens of thousands of votes in each of several states would have to be flipped. The chances are zip, zero, zilch.Reality: Trump’s fraud bloviations are unencumbered by any facts. All his lawsuits have been laughed out of court so far. There’s nothing here that will ever get to the Supreme Court.

And if counts in states Biden carried are investigated, how about investigating those Trump won?

Reality: for all Trump’s all-in-caps bombast about CHAOS, FRAUD, and a STOLEN ELECTION, what’s truly remarkable is just how smoothly and fairly this election went. Despite the pandemic, despite all the intense partisan bitterness, and fears over violence, foreign hacking, disinformation, and other sorts of mischief. Election chicanery has historically been as American as apple pie; I wrote a book in which it featured prominently; yet in this election it was conspicuous for its absence. Really a great credit to our democracy and all the good dedicated public servants responsible. Reality: the big fraud is Trump’s assault upon our democracy.

Back in the actual universe, President-elect Biden is calmly showing a steady hand, getting to work on the transition, tackling the real challenges confronting the nation. Exemplifying why voters chose him over Trump bedlam.

Republicans bleat about patriotism. Their email blasts repeatedly call upon “patriots” to “protect” Trump’s “victory” and “the integrity of the election.” Calling Democrats “unhinged” and “insane.” This hysteria is the antithesis of patriotism. It makes America look like a banana republic. Transition non-cooperation harms national security. And it injures America when people are falsely told it’s somehow mired in corruption, destroying their allegiance to the country. Instead of helping us get past our divisions, it enflames them. (At least Trump hasn’t explicitly incited his gun nuts. Yet.)

So why are Republicans doing this? What can they gain? Well, money, for starters. The emails flooding in by the minute all ask for money. With the usual fake “1000% match.” Likely the money won’t even be used for the advertised purpose, defrauding donors.

Of course they’re also coddling Trump’s diseased psyche, that cannot process losing. But it’s more than that, and even more cynical. Convincing Republican voters the election was stolen fires up their sense of grievance and embitterment, stoking their future loyalty to the cause. Even while it disgraces that cause.

This was all actually predicted. Trump’s discouraging Republicans from voting by mail was a set-up to create the Election Night “red mirage” of his leading before mail ballots could be counted; then to falsely cry fraud when those (lawful) ballots, inevitably favoring Biden, appear “magically” and reverse Trump’s leads.

Rudy Giuliani thundered, “Are we stupid? Are we fools?” Well, if the shoe fits.

Reality: our system, thankfully, is working. The locomotive of normal processes for electing and installing a new president implacably barrels down the track. Trump’s lies cannot derail this reality train, at long last steaming toward him.

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