Editorial: A new low for Trumpists

Sedition. That is the legal word for the crime against democracy that Donald Trump and his knock-kneed co-conspirators in Congress appear to be staging in a desperate grasp at control of the White House.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were duly elected last week, as were most Republicans who sought re-election to Congress. But, Trump insists — with no evidence— that the presidential balloting was a fraud and that “illegal” votes must be discarded. The president is engaged in behavior that is beyond reckless and preposterous. It’s dangerous and — if it persists— it is treasonous.

Some— but not enough— high-profile Republicans understand the gravity of this situation. Mitt Romney, the Utah Senator who once governed our state, said on Monday that Trump “is wrong to say the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen.” Persisting in such misinformation, Romney said, “damages the cause of freedom here and around the world ... and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions.”

On Tuesday, we were pleased to see our current governor, Charlie Baker, make it clear that he, too, is “disgusted” by the president and his cronies’ “baseless claims” of voter fraud. Baker called Trump’s obstinance “wildly inappropriate.”

“I can’t think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic that the federal government continues to own primary responsibility for responding to,” Baker said.  “Orderly transitions of power are good for the country, they’re good for the American people and there’s simply no question on this. And every campaign season, we hear a lot about doing what’s best for the country. And what this president is doing at this point in time is not in the best interest of this country.”

Even Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who caught COVID-19 at the White House while running Trump through debate prep last month, chimed in. “He’s been a friend of mine for 20 years — but friendship doesn’t mean that you’re blind,” said Christie. “Friendship means that you’ll listen to somebody, give them their opportunity, and if they don’t come forward with the proof, then it’s time to move on.”

It would all be a fitting coda to this farce of a presidency if these Republican leaders were in command of their own party apparatus. Far from it. With precious few exceptions, there is now nothing left of the so-called GOP, the party of Lincoln. It’s gone. They have been taken down, choked out, disembodied and re-animated in a familiar, but very different form. The “party” is now nothing more than a subsidiary of Trump, Inc. If by some miracle, the country avoids further harm in the coming weeks, it will be in spite of the majority of Republican leaders, who either cower, or worse, amplify the ravings of Trump and his family. Witness Mike Pompeo, our nation’s top diplomat, sneering at the voters of America as he pledged on Tuesday that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Count us among those who genuinely want the nation to come together and heal— to “see each other again” as President-elect Biden said in his magnanimous speech to the nation on Saturday. But Trump and his extremist allies have shown us who they truly are too many times for us not to believe their intent. It would be folly to dismiss their public statements and actions since Saturday as anything other than a concerted effort to dismantle our republic’s foundational stone: the will of the electorate.

This is not mere denial by a pack of sore losers. It represents a revolt, that if it persists, is the gravest threat to our democracy since secessionist slavers attempted to destroy the Union— and nearly did— in 1861. We must be prepared to confront it for what it is: a criminal conspiracy.