Viewpoints

Maryland Isn"t Immune from Republican Assaults on Our Democracy

8/16/21
By: Mike Brown

The Republican Party, also known as the Grand Old Party, decided in 2020 that they would have no platform other than to ”enthusiastically support the President’s agenda.” The understanding was that any Republicans who refused to support Trump’s lies and his efforts to undermine our democracy and Constitution would be punished by Trump’s base and, in turn, by the party; and that is exactly how it has played out through the 2020 election and since. This should alarm every one of us who loves our country and our democratic traditions.

The Republican Party and the vast majority of Republicans have defended and promoted Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that he won the election, that it was rigged and stolen from him, and that he should be president and Joe Biden should not be. It is this lie that caused thousands of followers and domestic terrorist cultists to attack our Capitol in a violent insurrection on January 6 to overthrow the 2020 election and upend the certification of Biden as our president. It is also this lie that has prompted Republicans in 48 states to introduce more than 400 pieces of legislation in their state legislatures to restrict voting and make our constitutional right to vote more difficult so that Trump or other authoritarian dictator wannabes might “win” future elections - even if the America people have chosen someone else. Several of these states have passed laws that allow partisan state legislatures to overturn the results of democratic elections that their preferred candidates lost so that they might be installed anyway.

And Republicans aren’t just slavishly wedded to Trump’s Big Lie – they are so afraid of him and losing his devoted base of supporters that they are doing everything they can to block an investigation of Trump’s January 6 insurrection. They pretend it wasn’t violent, although 5 lives were lost and 140 police officers were injured. But the reason they don’t want an investigation is far more likely that they themselves may be found complicit in defending and promoting the Big Lie that caused Trump’s domestic terrorists to violently attack our Capitol in order to overturn our safe and secure 2020 election and our democracy.

We have recently learned that our most senior military official, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so worried before and after the election that Trump might stage a coup to attack and overthrow our government by using the military to install himself for another term as president that he worked feverishly to organize and prepare the government to stop Trump. Milley called this Trump’s “Reichstag moment,” referencing Adolf Hitler’s violent attack on the German Reichstag in 1933 to seize control of Germany’s government and launch his murderous authoritarian dictatorship. Trump greatly admired Hitler. He not only said that Hitler “did many good things;” according to Ivana Trump, a book of Hitler’s speeches was kept in a drawer at Trump’s bedside.

That General Milley was this concerned should alarm all of us to our bones and make us realize how close we came to a total disaster. And yet Republican politicians and their leaders remain silent.

Maryland is a blue state with a Democratic legislative majority, and Marylanders may feel that in blue state Maryland we are safe from attacks on our democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, if Republicans were successful in installing an authoritarian dictator such as North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, or Donald Trump as president, as they’ve shown they are willing to do, Maryland would be as vulnerable as any other state. Such an autocrat, once loyalists are installed in every branch of government, could simply suspend state governments and constitutions. Trump had already moved in that direction and demonstrated his willingness to damage our environment, botch our country’s response to a deadly pandemic causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, and trample our Constitution and rule of law.

Republicans’ cultish loyalty to Trump and his Big Lie has also resulted in something even more fundamentally threatening to our democracy: A national strategy to reduce the number of votes from population groups who don’t vote for them by moving beyond partisan redistricting to further targeting African Americans, Hispanics and the poor with a coordinated attack in every state of our nation to undermine faith in our elections and democracy by making voting more difficult for people who don’t care for their agenda – including in Maryland. Maryland’s Republican state legislators have introduced at least four bills to “improve integrity and security,” citing constituents’ “concerns about voting fraud and irregularities” in the 2020 elections while conveniently omitting any

reference to the real reason for their concerns: the Big Lie perpetuated by the GOP and many of our own Republican lawmakers.

The facts are clear: There is no evidence of voter fraud or voting “irregularities” that could alter the outcome of our elections. The 2020 election was also determined to be the most safe, secure and recounted election in our nation’s history, and these facts have been confirmed by election officials of both parties and courts and judges appointed by both Republicans and Democrats. In all 64 cases brought by Republicans contesting the 2020 election results, these claims were dismissed as baseless and thrown out by our conservative Supreme Court.

All who love our country and our constitutional democracy should demand that our representatives declare loyalty to our country and our Constitution and acknowledge that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and that Joe Biden won in a free and fair election and is legitimately our president. With no evidence to support Trump’s “Big Lie,” there is no middle ground.

The Eastern Shore’s Congressman Andy Harris has revealed his position. He is with Trump and his Big Lie and against democracy in America. He is not only in favor of overturning elections to get his candidate installed in office over the wishes of “We the People,” he joined a lawsuit initiated in Texas to overturn election results in several swing states (ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court), voted against certification of Joe Biden as the winner of our 2020 election on the very day that he and every other member of Congress were attacked by Trump insurrectionists, and then voted with 21 extreme radical right-wing congressmen against honoring the brave Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police who put their lives on the line to protect members of Congress including Harris himself!

Republicans in state legislatures have taken on a mission to damage and upend our elections and our democracy – and with all we are learning that has gone on behind the scenes, our efforts to demand a full accounting should include a requirement for delegates and senators elected to represent us in Maryland’s legislature to publicly reaffirm their oath of loyalty to our Constitution as a condition for continuing to hold office.

In a red state like Texas loyalties might be more easily assumed, but Republicans across the nation don’t always express their positions clearly. More of them must speak up in order to save their Party and our nation. Insisting upon answers to questions concerning Biden’s legitimacy and Donald Trump’s lies about the election from our own Republican state Senator Addie Eckardt and Republican Delegates to the General Assembly, Chris Adams and Johnny Mautz at future public appearances and town hall meetings could reaffirm support for our constitutional democratic republic in Maryland.

At this point we might also require all candidates running for state and national office in future elections to publicly declare their loyalty to our Constitution. This commitment is seriously in doubt these days, and any Republican who is so wedded to Trump or afraid of his base that he or she would allow an authoritarian dictatorship to threaten our democracy should never be elected again – not if we are to retain the democratic traditions that made us a great nation and leader of the free world.

Mike Brown is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum. He writes from Cambridge.

 

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