The GOP has become the SLP: the Sore Losers Party
It started with the Big Lie — that there was so much rampant “voter fraud” in the 2020 presidential election that President Joe BIden didn’t really win, even though he did win by nearly 8 million votes.
Republican after Republican repeated Donald Trump’s baseless claims about a “rigged” election. Many, including several sitting in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, keep repeating this lie, often on the floor of Congress (and certainly in fundraising emails to supporters). Many state legislatures with GOP majorities have been using this lie to pass voter suppression laws, such as cutbacks in early voting, the banning of vote drop boxes, and the closing of polling places in areas with more Democratic voters and people of color. That’s on top of rigid voter ID laws, scrubbing polls of legitimate voters, and partisan gerrymandering that favors the GOP.
The whole lie reached the point of laughable insanity when Larry Elder, the conservative radio talk show host who was leading the scores of candidates hoping to replace California Gavin Newsom in a recall election, claimed the day before the election that Newsom had won and Elder had lost, all because of supposed “voter fraud.”
Never mind that actual voter fraud is exceedingly rare. A Washington Post analysis showed that there were only “372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.” The Brennan Center for Justice, in its definitive study debunking the myth of voter fraud, stated, “It is more likely that an American ‘will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.’ ” Never mind that in the few instances when voter fraud does occur, it’s usually by Republicans themselves, such as this case of an Ohio Republican official who voted twice in the 2020 election.
While California’s system of mail-in voting, which has worked successfully for years and years, won’t show final totals for at least several days, the attempt to recall Newsom went down in flames. The vote was called within an hour of the polls closing, with some two-thirds of Californians choosing to keep Newsom in office (the eventual vote totals will likely be closer, although still definitive). Even Elder realized he had to concede or else look like a total idiot. He hinted at a rematch in 2022, telling his supporters to “stay tuned,” but the chances that Elder would win a statewide race in California are smaller than the instance of actual voter fraud.
Republican lawmakers love to scream about “voter integrity” and “secure elections” to justify the draconian rules they are putting in place to stop people from voting. So what happened in the California recall? An AP story said there only a few reported voting problems, such as one polling place being closed because of a wildfire.
Democrats met the challenge and turned out to vote in droves. And that’s an important step in crushing the Big Lie and its corollaries. From the AP story, quoting Newsom after the recall was declared dead:
“Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around,” Newsom said. “It’s more like a, I don’t know, an antique vase. You can drop it and smash it into a million different pieces. And that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up to meet the moment and push back.”
Greg Sargent of The Washington Post argued that the defeated recall attempt shows how to beat Republicans spouting the Big Lie: Tell the truth about how Republicans argue against common-sense restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. “This provides a future template for Democrats: It suggests they should lean hard into support for public health restrictions in response to covid, and into hammering Republicans for opposing them, as a way to motivate their supporters,” Sargent wrote.
David Turner, a senior official at the Democratic Governors Association, said that the way to fight the Big Lie and the way for Democrats to win in 2022 and beyond is to stress that the Democratic Party is the party of science and public health. “Right now the largest bloc of voters in America are the vaccinated,” as Sargent quoted Turner in his Post piece. “They’re tired of seeing Republicans stand against common-sense safety measures, and are increasingly seeing them as the chief obstacle to ending this pandemic.”
Dan Sena, a chief strategist in the Democrats’ 2018 House takeover, echoed that message. As he told Sargent: “They absolutely have to plant their feet and go on offense on this. … Democrats should spotlight the records of Republicans who have thwarted our covid response by ‘highlighting what those stances mean for your kids, for your small businesses, for your family.’ “
The outcome of the California recall showed us how it can be done successfully. Common sense, especially in the face of higher COVID rates and deaths among those who still refuse to be vaccinated (AKA #COVIDIOTS), can be a winning election strategy.
Let’s just hope enough Democrats do it.