Constitutional scholar warns that Republicans are a threat to democracy

Constitutional scholar warns that Republicans are a threat to democracy
Mitch McConnell

Although President-elect Joe Biden has won 306 electoral votes and leads by over 5.8 million in the popular vote, President Donald Trump has yet to concede — vowing to keep fighting the election results in court and claiming, without evidence, that he was the victim of widespread voter fraud. Most Republicans in Congress have yet to publicly acknowledge that Biden won the race. And Washington Post columnist and constitutional scholar Edward B. Foley argues that if Republicans in Congress cannot accept perfectly legitimate election results, U.S. democracy is in seriously trouble.

"If the losing party can't accept defeat, the whole enterprise of electoral democracy is finished," Foley warns in his column this week. "Two-party competition means each party taking turns, depending on what the voters want in any given election. President Trump himself will never acknowledge this. But the Republican Party institutionally must."

Foley adds, "That is the critical challenge facing Senate Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.): When and how decisively will they pull the plug on Trump's desperate effort to force upon the nation a second term that he did not earn from the electorate?"

The GOP, Foley stresses, "must get to the point where it publicly congratulates Biden on being the one the voters wanted."

He argued, too, that Democrats haven't been perfect on this front. Even though Hillary Clinton promptly conceded to Trump in 2016, she and others subsequently cast doubt on the reality of his Electoral College win.

"And what Trump is doing now is much more wrong, because an outgoing president's attempt to delegitimate the mandate of an immediate successor is inherently more corrosive," he said.

"Even the most conservative of election law commentators have joined the chorus to observe that courts don't overturn elections without adequate evidence of invalid votes that actually made a difference in the outcome," he continued. "The Trump campaign has provided no proof of that kind in any state, much less the three necessary to deny Biden an electoral college majority."

Some Republicans in Congress have publicly acknowledged Biden's victory and described him as the president-elect, including Utah's Mitt Romney, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski. But Foley warns that unless the GOP on the whole accepts Biden's victory, democracy will suffer in the U.S.

"The longer McConnell and his colleagues allow this unnecessary uncertainty about the election's outcome to fester," Foley laments, "the worse off our democracy will be."

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