I rarely read a Ben Shapiro column without getting angry so his October 19 column was a pleasant change of pace. In essence, he said what I continue to think — that Republican and Democratic voters have many more common interests than differences. He is hopeful — and so am I — for the long term future of our country. But there is a perilous near-term crisis that we must weather first.
Shapiro didn’t mention anything about election deniers or January 6 in his column — two events that are clear threats to the peaceful transfer of power, a precedent dating back to George Washington and one that has truly set us apart from other countries since.
Say what you want about how Democrats reacted to Donald Trump’s election in 2016 but you can’t ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton conceded her loss within hours of the results being clear. As did John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000. I wasn’t happy about any of these election results but certainly didn’t question them.
My concern now: 299 — more than half — of the 569 Republican candidates for the House, Senate, and key statewide posts are on record supporting Donald Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’. That no court in the nation has found evidence of significant 2020 election fraud doesn’t seem to matter. Fully 60 percent of these candidates are running in ‘safe’ districts which will very likely result in a large contingent of the Republican Congress having this view. In addition, a recent NYT/Siena College poll found that 55 percent of all voters — including 71 percent of Republican voters — are “comfortable voting for a candidate who claims the 2020 election was stolen.”
Where is this likely to lead us? The disturbing scenario that I see playing out is this: many on the right already mistrust the 2020 results and appear ready to elect leaders and secretaries of state in 2022 who will refuse to certify an election won by a Democrat. If that happens it would almost certainly cause many on the left, sooner or later, to feel equally skeptical and — there you have it. No one trusts election results anymore and, instead of a peaceful transfer of power, we have election chaos. So much for that part of American exceptionalism — and more reason to fear for the fate of our democracy.
I believe that we all — regardless of political perspective — share common interests that vastly outweigh our differences. We do not have to — and absolutely should not — go down the road I’ve described. We can do this — but we have to see where we are headed first.
Paul Mack, Columbus
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