This editorial was published by the News Tribune of Tacoma.
Once upon a time in the U.S. election system there were winners and there were losers; today, thanks to some high-profile politicians, there are winners and there are whiners.
Poor sportsmanship, arrogance and whining about speculative foul play are elements we detest in athletes. They’re even worse when they come from politicians vying for our highest elected offices. President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede to the reality of his loss in both the electoral race and the popular vote is setting a dangerous precedent.
It was quickly followed by Washington’s failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp. The former small-town police chief lost to Gov. Jay Inslee by an even more lopsided margin than Trump did to President-elect Joe Biden.
Now, recounts and court contests are normal parts of certifying state elections; what’s not normal is the implication that democracy as we’ve known it is dead.
Trump is standing on the world stage and shouting that the 2020 election was rigged, stolen by a conspiratorial power grab by left-wing America. Last week, Trump fired the Homeland Security official who rejected the claim of widespread voter fraud.
And like a bad AC/DC cover band, Culp is singing Trump’s “Dirty Deeds” tune.
During a recent “chat” with 1,100 supporters on Facebook Live, Culp again cast doubt on the validity of the state’s election system, saying supporters should stand by and prepare to donate money for future court battles.
Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican, told the Spokesman-Review that she considers these unfounded allegations of voter fraud “an attack on my professionalism and that of my colleagues around the state.”
Almost 550,000 votes stand between Culp and Gov. Jay Inslee. Culp lost by 13.5 percentage points, a much larger gap than Inslee’s previous two opponents: in 2016 (Bill Bryant, 11 points) and 2012 (Rob McKenna, 3 points).
But just like Trump, who lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 5 million votes, Culp is spinning a tall tale of massive voter fraud without producing evidence.
In fact, the U.S. Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating executive committees have called this year’s election “the most secure in American history.”
We say it’s gut check time for local, state and national Republican leaders who, so far, have remained largely mute about unsubstantiated allegations of major voting mischief.
At the time of this writing, Pierce County Republicans and the Washington State Republican Party have yet to return our calls or emails for comment on the 2020 election. At this point, their silence is taken as a tacit endorsement of bad behavior and stands contrary to the will of the people.
We get it. Coming to terms with reality hasn’t been the GOP’s forte, not when it comes to climate change, a raging pandemic, social unrest or this election.
But every day Trump and Culp sow seeds of doubt in our election process, they erode citizens’ trust in the democratic system. And without this compact in place, we get closer to becoming a banana republic, ripe for a strongman/woman authoritarian to take hold.
Luckily, Republicans and Democrats in the South Sound still provide us with examples of what was once de rigueur for all politicians: a classy and timely concession. They, too, fought hard but aren’t prolonging the agony — either their own, or their followers — and have modeled courtesy with their victorious opponents.
We’re thinking of longtime public servants such as Beth Doglio, Steve O’Ban, Julie Door, Jamie Smith, Larry Seaquist, Jason Whalen, Sarah Rumbaugh and many others who’ve demonstrated grace in the face of defeat.
Yes, losing stinks. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks, whose league standing recently took a nosedive. But their leaders could teach some politicians a thing or two about defeat. After three turnovers in the Nov. 15 loss, quarterback Russell Wilson told reporters post-game: “I just have to get better. I’m not going to make it overly complicated. It’s on me. I put it on my shoulders.”
If it weren’t so dangerous to democracy, whiny politicians might be funny in the way that sullen children can be when they fold their arms and cry, “Not fair.” But the longer these cries of illegitimacy are allowed, the further we drift from the democracy our founders envisioned.
Idaho Second Amendment Alliance President Greg Pruett was acting in his capacity as editor of the Idaho Dispatch in reporting Sen. Jim Risch’s commnent about the approaching presidential transition in Friday’s Cheers and Jeers.