Can We Accept the Election Results, Period?

<Now that Trump has been criminally convicted, the big question is even more pertinent: Will Republicans recognize the outcome of the upcoming November vote?

Rarely in the modern era have we seen as open and public a race for the vice presidency as we have seen unfold in recent weeks within the Republican Party. Governors, senators, and representatives are scrambling to prove the same thing — that they are the best choice for Donald Trump’s running mate.

They showcase this by proving they have the primary quality Trump is looking for in 2024: loyalty. A good number quickly demonstrated this again within minutes after Thursday’s historic verdict.

Because, even more today than before he was found guilty on 34 criminal charges, Trump, now a convicted felon,, will play the card of a rigged election in favor of Democrats. Anyone who believes otherwise will have no chance of being the lucky one at his side.

Four years after his 2020 defeat, Trump still considers himself a “victim” of vice president Mike Pence’s lack of loyalty, as Pence dared to go against him by certifying the election results in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

This unusual and toxic dynamic is now leading the vice presidential hopefuls to refuse to say whether they would recognize the results of the 2024 election.

The most flagrant case undoubtedly occurred at the beginning of the month when NBC pressed Republican Sen. Tim Scott, believed to be on Trump’s shortlist, on the question. Scott, who voted to certify the 2020 results, uttered only this canned phrase on repeat: “The 47th president of the United States will be President Donald Trump.”

Scott’s colleague and another plausible vice presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, employed a more politically adept maneuver when asked if he would accept the November election results. While refusing to do answer, Rubio retorted that it was not him, but rather the Democrats, who should be asked this question.

On the contrary, Rubio’s reasoning is not unfounded. It is indeed true that several major Democratic politicians actively undermined trust in the last few elections when the results did not turn out as they hoped.

It is true that, as Rubio pointed out, Hillary Clinton, after Barack Obama pushed her to officially concede her defeat to Trump in November 2016, spent the ensuing years publicly labeling him an “illegitimate” president.

Similarly, after losing the Georgia gubernatorial election in 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to acknowledge her defeat and the legitimacy of Republican Brian Kemp, who won. As a result, four years later, Georgia Democrats chose Abrams once again as their gubernatorial candidate. (Abrams lost again, but this time she conceded the loss — the margin of defeat being around five times greater than in 2018.)

And several Democratic members of Congress, some still in office today, voted against recognizing the election of Republican President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

This dynamic is at the core of a particularly interesting recent exchange between Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly, two major media personalities in the United States, Both think independently and each is associated with a different side of the political spectrum — Maher on the left, Kelly on the right.

Asserting that he supports Biden primarily because of the threat to democracy that Trump poses, Maher tried to get Kelly to acknowledge the gravity of Trump’s election denial. Kelly’s response was that she does not approve of Trump’s actions, but like Rubio, she gives limited credibility to Democratic critiques.

When she cited Clinton’s comments about Trump’s “illegitimacy,” Maher seemed to have sincerely never heard them — though Clinton indeed made the remarks.

Sooner or later, the extreme voter polarization over the last 20 years risks making it difficult for the losing side to accept defeat, regardless of doubt (Russian interference, for example, or modifications to voting laws in certain states following the pandemic in 2020).

However, there are institutional procedures that allow people to seek a recount. Once these have been implemented, all that remains is to accept the results. Period.

Furthermore, the way that Republicans cynically use Hillary Clinton and Stacy Abrams as examples to hide the unique threat Trump poses to democracy should not make us lose sight of the risks.

This applies not only to elected officials of both respective parties, but also equally to their voters.

In mid-May, when CBS polled voters in Arizona, — the state with the smallest margin between the two candidates nationwide in 2020 — on what should be done following the announcement of the election results in November 2024, the responses were striking.

More than 80% of Joe Biden’s supporters said we must respect the results, no matter what they are. Trump supporters were divided: 47% for accepting the results, 47% for contesting them.

Claiming Democrats behave as badly as Republicans in recognizing election results is a false equivalence — but claiming Democrats have clean hands in this matter is a lie.

And in the context of such an affront to democratic norms from a figure as influential and powerful as a former (and maybe future) president, the critiques must be irreproachable. They shouldn’t be able to be discredited.

Last fall, I wrote here about the “abnormal becoming normal” in the Trump era. On no issue is this as dangerous as it is for the most fundamental thing necessary for the survival of democracy: respecting election results and the peaceful transfer of power.

Before Trump, questioning these concepts would have been considered an act of heresy that was not only anti-democratic but profoundly anti-American — which it is.

In 2024, it is on the path to becoming normalized. Just like the idea that Republicans favor a criminal as their candidate.

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