My column in Hill today is about how Democrats are increasingly adopting Donald Trump’s rhetoric and tactics. There is a sense of immunity – or trumpunity – exerted by former critics when using language that was once denounced in Trump. An example is Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H. The Senator went on CNN, where Trump was regularly (and rightly) punished for calling opponents “traitors” and “enemies of the people”. Now, however, Shaheen declares that any members of Congress who continue to question Joe Biden’s victory “border on rebellion and betrayal.”
It is a growing accusation from politicians and media representatives who insist that questioning the election results is an attack on democracy. Of course, it wasn’t an attack on democracy for Hillary Clinton to insist that Biden question a Trump victory. It was no betrayal when the 2004 Democrats tried to block Ohio’s votes. They defended democracy. However, when a lawsuit was filed with the United States Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Attorney General Jeff Rosen declared the petition a “seditious act.”
As I said, filing in courts and raising objections in Congress is done within the judicial and constitutional system. Riots try to overthrow such legal systems. Filing legal proceedings is the opposite of riot; it relies on the rule of law.
Still, Shaheen told CNN, “Those senators and members of Congress who refused to acknowledge that we had a free and fair election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by over 7 million votes border on turmoil and betrayal.”
Shaneen and her colleagues denounced Trump for calling traitors and tried to protect officials who denounced his use of the “enemies of the people” label against reporters. Just two years ago, Trump was called Stalin by Democrats for using labels like that.
Polls show that over 70 percent of Republicans and many Independents and Democrats believe this election was flawed or even rigged. Are they all traitors?
We have a constitutional system that allows such concerns to be raised in court and in Congress. That is part of our rule of law. It is designed to allow people to work within the system. It’s exactly what fights riot. While we often disagree with courts or Congress, we give in to final decisions as a result of a system we all support.
Questioning a choice is not treason, but punishing those who question a choice can be tyranny. This is the exercise of freedom of speech and the application of the constitutional process. For a member of Congress, the worst form of demagoguery is to denounce colleagues as traitors in order to raise objections. This differs from clumsy commentators who call polling the election “Holocaust denial”. This is a member of Congress calling on colleagues who express widespread views on the election. Weeks ago I stated that this saw Biden as the elected president. However, my acceptance of the results does not mean that others are traitors who are still questioning them.
In fact, I have repeatedly stated that I believe Biden failed his first test as president-elect by not telling his campaign to resign to prevent a judicial review of the election results. Over 70 million people voted for Trump, and the most uniform act for Biden would have been to welcome such a review to reassure voters that the results are true and correct. Instead, the media and a number of legal analysts declared no evidence of election fraud within 24 hours of the election to alter the outcome. Biden supporters and groups like the Lincoln Project then launched a campaign to harass lawyers and their clients and force them to drop challenges. The result was exactly as I feared and expressed after the election. It only fueled the suspicion of millions that the Democrats stole the elections and tried to intimidate anyone who tried to examine the actual evidence. Those efforts not only included efforts to bail Trump attorneys, but also called for members to stay out of the house if they continue to question Biden’s victory. It didn’t have to be like that. Biden could have helped unify the country by encouraging a full review of all polls and tables, including the requested Trump campaign discovery.
Instead, Democrats have threatened attorneys, tried to expel colleagues from Congress, and condemned filing for a riot. It almost borders on tyranny, but obviously that is not possible. After all, they’re not Trump.