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Trump is stress-testing American democracy

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Financial regulators subject banks to stress tests to see if they have enough capital to withstand sharp downturns.

Now America is being subject to a stress test to see if it has enough strength to withstand Donald Trump’s treacherous campaign to discredit the 2020 presidential election.

Trump will lose because there’s no evidence of election fraud. But the integrity of thousands of people responsible for maintaining American democracy is being tested as never before.

Tragically, most elected Republicans are failing the test by refusing to stand up to Trump. Their cowardice is one of the worst betrayals of public trust in the history of our republic.

The only dissenting notes are coming from Republicans who are retiring at the end of the year or don’t have to face voters for several years, such as Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Silent Republicans worry that speaking out could invite a primary challenge. But democracy depends on moral courage. These silent profiles in cowardice don’t deserve to be reelected.

 

Here’s the good news. The vast majority of lower-level Republican officeholders are passing the stress test, many with distinction.

Take for example Chris Krebs, who led the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency and on Nov. 17 refuted Trump’s claims of election fraud, saying the claims “have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.”

Trump fired Krebs that afternoon. Krebs’ response: “Honored to serve. We did it right.”

Another example is Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state who oversaw the election there and describes himself as “a Republican through and through and never voted for a Democrat.” Raffensperger is defending Georgia’s vote for Biden, rejecting Trump’s accusations of fraud. On Nov. 20, he certified that Biden won the state.

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