Reviews | Candidates who deny election results should be barred from public service

One of Trump’s most horrific legacies is the reluctance of Republican candidates to commit to being bound by election results.

The same poison has now spread to senatorial and gubernatorial candidates who refuse to commit to the November election results.

The Senate candidates who have refused to commit to accepting the results are Republicans Ted Budd in North Carolina, Blake Masters in Arizona, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska and JD Vance in Ohio, according to dispatches.

Two gubernatorial candidates also declined to be linked: Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, and Geoff Diehl, the Republican candidate for governor of Massachusetts.

It is one thing to reserve the right to request a recount if the election is close and irregularities are evident and to appeal the results in court.

But that was not Trump’s situation in the 2020 presidential election. Recounts were done but showed the same results; Trump’s appeals to the courts have been dismissed.

And that’s not what these Republican candidates are saying now, in the shameful wake of Trump.

But tell me: if these Republican candidates are not bound by the election results, what are they bound to? These candidates are in effect issuing open invitations to their supporters to challenge electoral losses in the streets.

American democracy is based on our commitments to be bound by election results. These are commitments we make to democracy on all the specific outcomes we want. The peaceful transition of power depends on these commitments.

Before Trump, these commitments were assumed. And at least since the Civil War, they have been honored.

When losing candidates congratulate winners and deliver gracious concession speeches, they demonstrate their commitment to democracy in relation to the electoral victory they sought.

And this demonstration is itself a means of reaffirming and restoring civility. It sends an unambiguous message to all of the candidate’s supporters that the process can be trusted.

Think of Al Gore’s concession speech to George W. Bush in 2000, after five weeks of hard-fought elections and just a day after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Bush:

“I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be set aside, and God bless his stewardship of the country…. Neither he nor I foresaw this long and difficult road. Certainly none of us didn’t want that to happen. Yet it came, and now it’s ended resolved, by the honored institutions of our democracy. Now the Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, even though I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. … And tonight, in the interests of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

Gore made the same moral choice as his predecessors who lost elections, and for the same reason: the democratic process (even one that included the judgments of Supreme Court justices) was more important than winning a specific election.

That all changed in September 2020 when Trump refused to commit to being tied to the results of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

“Well, we’ll have to see what happens,” he said when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transition of power. ‘You know I’ve complained strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster,’ Trump added, presumably referring to mail-in ballots – which he claims are baseless would lead to voter fraud. .

It was then that its poison began to seep directly into the bedrock of American democracy.

This poison spread deeper and faster after he lost the election, when he refused to concede, claiming, again without any basis in fact, that it had been “stolen” from him.

The poison surfaced on January 6, 2021, when a group of his supporters – brandishing weapons of war – invaded the US Capitol and threatened the lives of members of Congress. Five people were killed.

The same poison has now spread to senatorial and gubernatorial candidates who refuse to commit to the November election results.

The commitment to be bound by the results of an election is the most important commitment in a democracy. It is also the most important qualification for the civil service. It is the equivalent of an oath to respect the Constitution.

Candidates who refuse to commit to being bound by election results should be presumed disqualified from holding public office.

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