Let’s start off with the obvious: The presidential election is over, Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost. No matter how many Trumpsters howl, or feverishly embrace conspiracy theories about missing ballots and dead voters, the American people have had their say, and they said, “Joe.”
Enter Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton, who is suing Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because, he says, pandemic-inspired rule changes in conducting the November election in those states somehow led to massive voter fraud that has harmed … wait for it … Texas.
This sounds like a football team that’s down by 25 points with 15 seconds to go and deciding to launch a Hail Mary pass — after most of its players have already headed off to the locker room.
Paxton, who has also led the Trump-backed legal fight against the Affordable Care Act, himself is under indictment on felony securities fraud charges. Top aides also filed a recent letter of complaint calling for Paxton to be investigated over allegations of bribery and other abuses of office.
That, of course, makes him a perfect water carrier for Trump, who has his own history of using the power of his office for personal business gain.
How serious Paxton might be with this filing is an open question. Legal scholars rolled their eyes at what seems to be mostly a one-act play in the theater of the absurd. And it is easy to dismiss the gambit. Even the most conservative of the Supreme Court justices whom Paxton asked to weigh in on his argument that presidential electors in those four states should be disqualified aren’t likely to find much sense in Paxton’s nonsense.
But these and other concocted legal arguments bolster the fiction beheld as truth by Trump supporters that a vast conspiracy has acted to overturn the will of the people and deny Trump a second term.
Democracy has always held the keys to its own demise through the act of democracy itself. For it to work, people have to believe in the processand the outcomes. And, more importantly, they have to accept the outcomes even when their candidates lose, then look ahead to the next election rather than rejecting — without valid cause — the results.
Trump emerged politically five years ago as the grand marshal leading a growing parade of Americans who distrusted the federal government. Now, having lost reelection, he is leading his supporters, Pied Piper-like, off into a wilderness of delusion and disbelief.
And he is being aided by fellow Republicans such as Paxton, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and others who have refused to do something so basic as affirm the reality of the election results.