Republicans must stop planting seeds of doubt

Republicans must stop planting seeds of doubt

If you don’t like the results of an election, the smart response is to focus on winning the next one, not on overturning the election you just lost.

It doesn’t take a brilliant political strategist to realize that it’s easier to influence the future than to change the past. Yet former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE and his most fervent supporters insist upon trying to somehow change what’s already happened. As they’re learning, if you try to do that, you end up living in the past … and it’s not even the real past.

A political party should be busy crafting policies to ensure a better future for all Americans. That’s what President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE and the Democrats are doing in the halls of Congress and in state houses across our country. Specifically, after winning the White House by more than 7 million votes, recapturing the Senate and retaining control of the House, Democrats in Washington are working with their state and local counterparts to provide essential economic support to struggling Americans and business owners, to vaccinate all Americans as quickly as possible, and to guarantee social and economic justice to everyone living in the United States.

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On the flip side are Republicans who, rather than working with Democrats to help Americans or even crafting their own policies to solve the unprecedented crises facing our country, are instead obsessed with crafting a fictional alternative past that only benefits their base. Apparently, the GOP has decided that if they can’t actually win the 2020 election, they’ll delude their followers into believing the “big lie” that Trump lost reelection in 2020 only because Democrats cheated. 

It pains me to say that this delusion is similar to how the South, for far too long, grasped onto the disgraceful fiction of a supposedly noble “lost cause” of the Confederacy. I guess if you can convince some people that a war fought by slaveholding states to maintain the practice of slavery was somehow not about slavery, then you can convince some people to believe that the ghost of Hugo Chavez manipulated voting machines in Arizona and Georgia. (Fact check: Dominion Voting Systems has no foreign owners.)

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our polity that almost 70 percent of Republicans believe the big lie that Biden “did not legitimately win enough votes to win the presidency.” Who is to blame for this depressing statistic? It’s Republican leaders who aren’t actually leading their party into the future by conducting a thoughtful, fact-based examination of why Trump lost the 2020 election but are instead leading their base astray into a dangerous, undemocratic delusion.

As we know from the recent removal of Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThird Republican drops out of race to replace Cheney after Trump endorses challenger Overnight Energy & Environment — Effort to repeal Arctic refuge drilling advances McCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (R-Wyo.) from Republican House leadership, an overwhelming majority of Republicans have made promotion of the big lie a litmus test for inclusion in the GOP. In so doing, they risk becoming a modern-day nativist "Know Nothing" party — only it seems they know even less about how to preserve a democracy.

The GOP is fast becoming a Trump cult of personality, centered around a narcissist concerned only with enriching himself and promoting a fictional narrative that he was cheated out of the White House so he never has to admit that he is, in fact, a loser. Trump is devoting his entire post-presidential life, and all of the energies (and much of the fundraising) of Republicans in his thrall, to undermining faith in our democracy, simply because he lost. Such is the pathetic demise of the worst president in American history.

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Speaking of faith in our democracy, there is no better — or should I say, no worse — example of the big lie in action than the ongoing vote “audit” in Maricopa County, Ariz. Remember how, in Georgia, Trump demanded that the Republican secretary of state “find” more ballots so that Trump could win a state he had, in fact, lost. Now Republicans are trying to do something very similar in Arizona: conduct an unprecedented audit of votes that cannot legally change the results of the 2020 election but that will continue to sow doubt about those results. This audit isn’t about truth. It’s about perpetuating the big lie, plain and simple.  

Which brings me back, inevitably, to the urgency for truth and reconciliation. Now more than ever, we need a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on our U.S. Capitol. If we are to move forward together as Americans and put loyalty to our country over fealty to a party or person, we must agree on what is truth and what is a lie — and we must learn from the facts, for better or worse, in our country’s history to ensure a brighter future for every American.

Donna BrazileDonna Lease BrazileIt's time to own our mistakes and look to the future in Afghanistan Biden allies say media missing the mark on Afghanistan Harris is on a mission to repair Trump's failed immigration policies MORE (@DonnaBrazile) is a political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”