[Editor’s note: Georgia’s top election official called yesterday for a full, hand recount of the nearly 5 million votes cast in the state’s closely watched presidential election. Click here to read more details.]
It was a mob hit, pure and simple.
An angry mob boss, Donald Trump, ordered the hit; two of his henchmen, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, carried it out. Without warning, without cause and without apparent guilt, the two U.S. senators stabbed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the back this week and left their fellow Republican to bleed, pretty much ending his political career.
Why? According to Loeffler and Perdue, they carried out the hit job because “honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy,” and because “the secretary of state has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections.” As they tell the story, Raffensperger “has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”
To the senators, the words “honest and transparent elections” clearly do not mean what most Americans take them to mean. To Loeffler and Perdue, “honest and transparent elections” mean elections that crown Trump as the victor. Trump has made clear that “I win, you lose” is the only standard of fairness that he recognizes, and any other outcome is a travesty that should make the heavens cry in shame.
And because they are lackeys without a conscience or spine of their own, Loeffler and Perdue have adopted the boss’s morality as their own. If Trump lost Georgia, which he did, then in their minds as in his mind, the elections cannot be honest. These are not public servants, they are Trump’s servants. He speaks through their tongues, he acts through their hands, and they thrill to the honor of being used to whatever purpose he puts them, no matter how shameful.
I admit to a certain grudging respect for Trump’s approach. He doesn’t try to hide the fact that everything’s about him; he flaunts that selfishness, and there’s an appealing, if appalling, sort of honesty to it. What I cannot comprehend, and cannot respect, are those who are willing to set aside love of country, self-respect and decency to serve such a man and his selfishness.
What hollow place within them does Trump fill so perfectly, that they would do such things?
The truth is – for those old-fashioned enough to care about truth – the Nov. 3 Georgia elections went more smoothly than any major election in decades. In the past, Raffensperger and the state elections system have been harshly criticized for long lines, broken machines and other major problems, but in this particular election such problems were almost non-existent. Almost 5 million Georgians voted, by far a record number, and we do not have evidence that even one of those 5 million votes was cast illegally.
And if the elections were fair and honest, if the will of the people is clear and you can offer no evidence otherwise, yet you still attempt to reverse the outcome, what exactly does that make you? What do you become when you publicly attack those such as Raffensperger who have shown the honesty and commitment to democracy that you have not, when you condemn them and try to sacrifice them on the altar to your leader so that he will smile more kindly upon you?
How can you claim to serve the very citizens whose votes you attempt to steal? As U.S. senators, how do you exercise authority that is given to you by the very election system whose legitimacy you seek to destroy? How do you look in the mirror and see an American patriot?
That, I cannot understand. That, I cannot respect.
Jay Bookman covered Georgia and national politics for nearly 30 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, earning numerous national, regional and state journalism awards. He now contributes commentaries to the Georgia Recorder, which first published this essay.