Donald Trump is refusing to concede. Instead, he’s raging, calling the election results rigged and fraudulent. Members of his administration refuse to admit he has lost. None of that’s too surprising. We knew his loss would lead to a temper tantrum full of lies and accusations, despite Republicans telling us that there would be a peaceful transition. 

The elected Republicans sitting silent are just as disturbing as Trump’s rants. Almost none of the GOP members of Congress are willing to cross the president. That may be because they don’t want to invite Trump’s wrath and alienate his loyal base. It’s also sending a message to Trump that if he can figure out a way to steal the election, they’ll be with him. 

Republicans have refused to provide checks and balances on Trump throughout his presidency. The only consequence for his bad behavior has been losing the election. Now, Republicans are letting him pretend he won and keeping the country divided. The Million MAGA March in Washington this weekend got violent as Proud Boys attacked counter protesters and the critics of the BLM protests are suddenly silent.  

Republicans have shifted from the party of limited government to the party of anti-government. They’ve abandoned their conservative respect for tradition and destroyed institutions and norms in pursuit of power. They have rejected liberty and embraced authoritarianism. They have decided that the rule of law applies to those who damage property but not those who plunder our government.

Republicans have discovered that there is very little penalty for bad behavior. They’ve refused to hold Trump accountable, in large part, because the public won’t hold them accountable. In Congress, they come from gerrymandered districts that protect their re-election chances. They’ve exacerbated the divide between educated and uneducated voters by creating an alternative reality with news outlets that distort facts and promote conspiracy theories. In this world, Donald Trump won the election and the country is involved in a massive liberal plot to steal the presidency for Joe Biden—and few Republicans will try to set the record straight. 

On social media, right-wing pundits have relentlessly attacked the mainstream media, casting doubt the veracity of reporting and portraying reporters as liberal shills. The independent press competes with what is essentially state television at Fox News. While conservative trust in the media has been low since Watergate, the introduction of full blown propaganda channels has transformed skepticism into fantasy land. Not only do Republican loyalists not believe otherwise respected journalists, they now believe the alternative facts of the right-wing media bubble.

The GOP is no longer a party operating in good faith under the traditions that have guided our government in recent decades. They will say or do anything for power. They abandoned the system of checks and balances to accommodate an abusive president. They destroyed the traditions of the Senate to secure a conservative majority on the courts. They blatantly lied about their reason for withholding the Garland nomination and rushing through Amy Comey Barrett’s confirmation. 

Now, Republican leaders are indulging a ruse that further divides the nation. Most quietly admit that Joe Biden is the winner of the election, but they are just as quiet while Trump’s paramilitary thugs invade the streets of Washington, DC. They might not want to offend the president because of his base, but I suspect they would fall in line behind him if he were to somehow create enough doubt about the outcome of the election. They would support a coup if they thought they could get away with it.

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