Way back in 2016, Donald Trump promised that Republicans would win so much that they would get “sick of winning.” Fast-forward to 2020 and it seems that President Trump and his supporters now never grow tired of losing.
It’s nearly impossible to keep an accurate tally of how many times Trump has lost. Buzzfeed puts the count at 59 lawsuits lost, but there are 26 state elections and numerous recounts in multiple states. And the hits just keep on coming.
Because I have no interest in compiling a comprehensive count, which would probably immediately be obsolete as the losses continue to roll in, I’ll use 59 as a shorthand for the full height, breadth, and width of Trump’s fail… until someone else updates it.
And now there is a loss in the Electoral College.
We might ask, “Why is this loss different from other losses?”
It won’t be because President Trump will immediately cease and desist in his efforts to overturn the will of the people. However, it looks as though Trump’s efforts will matter much less from here on out. There are finally signs that Trump’s support among elected Republicans is finally starting to crack.
First, Paul Mitchell (the congressman from Michigan, not the hairdresser) announced yesterday that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent. Mitchell’s stand was an easy one since he’s also leaving Congress, having declined to run for a third term.
Nevertheless, Mitchell’s letter to RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel excoriates the party and the president, saying in part, “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third- world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote. Further, it is unacceptable for the president to attack the Supreme Court of the United States because its judges, both liberal and conservative, did not rule with his side or that ‘the Court failed him.’”
Mitchell’s letter was followed today by another Mitch’s action that is even more significant when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly acknowledged Joe Biden’s status as the president-elect.
Speaking to the Senate, McConnell said, “The electoral college has spoken. Today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."
Although a month late, McConnell’s words are appreciated by the bipartisan majority of Americans of both parties who accept the reality that Donald Trump lost and hope to avoid tearing the country apart with political violence.
McConnell’s words are important for two reasons. First, McConnell’s open break with the president gives other Republicans permission to deviate from the party line. Now that McConnell has acknowledged reality, it may break open the dam so that we see a flood of Republicans congratulating Joe Biden.
Second, McConnell is signaling that further attempts to reject the outcome of the election will not have his support. This is important because the next step in the process is for the results of the Electoral College vote to be presented to the President of the Senate, i.e. Vice President Mike Pence. This will occur on January 6. The law does provide for an opportunity for senators to object to the count (David French takes a deep dive into the details in the Advisory Opinions podcast here), but in a closely divided Senate and without McConnell’s support, such an attempt would certainly fail.
In another of life’s little ironies, Seattle Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal objected to the count that showed Donald Trump as the winner in 2016. That objection was dismissed by the then-President of the Senate. The man with the gavel was… wait for it… Joe Biden, who told the Congresswoman, “There is no debate… It is over.”
History may not repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes. I would put money on the possibility of an objection from Trump Republicans. The big question is whether Mike Pence will display the class of Joe Biden or Al Gore, who had to accept the Electoral College vote that ended his own presidential ambitions in 2000. Hopefully, Pence will do his duty. If not, it will merely give Trump an opportunity to lose once again.
For years now, Republicans have derided their opponents as “snowflakes” and sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome, but over the past month, it is Republicans who have demonstrated themselves to be the flakiest snowflakes of all and the most deranged by Trump. Republicans have enabled President Trump to escape reality and the consequences of his failure in a safe space as they lobby courts in the hope that activist judges will redistribute votes like Bernie Sanders with income. What’s next, a participation trophy?
It is time for Republicans to confront Donald Trump with reality and drag him, likely kicking and screaming, into the real world.
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