Lesson for the Republican Party after Trump: Power does not depend on votes.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.) serves as the Republican Conference Chair, the third party leadership position in the House. She earned her position by doing what her predecessor, former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, did not: support Donald Trump’s false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. was also obtained.

It’s helpful to remember that process after Stefanik’s weekend interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The authority she enjoys derives from Cheney’s willingness to tell the truth of the election to Trump’s power and the Republican Party’s eagerness to side with Trump over that truth. Since the election, and even after the violence at the U.S. Capitol three years ago (the culmination of President Trump’s bid to stay in power), Republicans have been more focused on respecting the will of voters in that year than in respecting their will. I believe there is political value in rejecting the will of the people.

This is likely the culmination of a pattern that has continued since Trump first announced his candidacy in 2015. Norms are weak barriers to the acquisition of power, and voting and vote counting are just norms.

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“Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker asked Stefanik if she intended to honor the results of the 2024 election. Stefanik said she would not.

“We’re going to find out if this is a legal and valid election,” she said at one point. “What we’re seeing so far is that Democrats are trying very hard to get President Trump off the ballot.”

This is a reference to state-level efforts to block Trump’s candidacy, building on his efforts to reject his 2020 defeat. The issue is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next month.

Stefanik noted that in the hours after the Capitol riot, he was probably bragging about voting against accepting the electors submitted to Pennsylvania. She argued that what happened in the state was enough to cause a moratorium on certification in 2024.

“I voted not to certify Pennsylvania because, as we have seen in Pennsylvania and other states across the country, there are unconstitutional and unconstitutional changes to election laws that bypass the state legislature,” Stefanik said. Because there was an act.”

This would be an attractive argument if it weren’t dishonest and dangerous. In reality, no such question was asked in Pennsylvania. Claims that Pennsylvania conducted the general election illegally are a nod to President Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat in the state, but there is no need to claim there was widespread voter fraud, which is clearly not the case. Therefore, it was made up after the fact to protect those who claim that.

The argument was first brought up nationally by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) days before the riot. He argued that lawmakers changed the law to allow mail-in voting in violation of the state constitution. What he didn’t mention was that the change was made by the Republican-led state Legislature in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The state Supreme Court also rejected this argument in November 2020, with the justices noting both the lack of evidence of fraud and the seriousness of throwing out all mail-in ballots cast in good faith. I didn’t even mention it. (Another challenge was filed with the court in 2022, but it was also rejected.)

Stefanik and other Republicans want Trump to remain in power and have clung to Pennsylvania as a way to do that. It wasn’t the other way around, as she claimed on Sunday.

This wasn’t the only time Stefanik understood Trump’s comments about the election.

“I have concerns about the treatment of the hostages on January 6,” Stefanik said, parroting language used by President Trump in a video that aired moments before. “I have concerns. We have Congressional oversight over the treatment of prisoners of war. And I believe we’re going to see a weaponization of the federal government, not just against President Trump, but against conservatives as well.” .”

This parallels her claim that “I cannot be sure the election was legitimate.” In other words, it justifies the actions of the January 6th rioters, those who used violence to help preserve President Trump’s election. He tricked them into believing that he was entitled to power. Stefanik’s words intentionally downplay her efforts and are effectively condoning them.

I can see why she would do that. President Trump wants to present the various charges not as a specific response to his own actions, but as part of a broader effort to target the right. And Stefanik continues to court Trump, eager to help him regain power for his party. But the result is that people shrug off the process of making the president’s power dependent on physical force.

Trump doing the same thing isn’t new, but it’s worth noting. But there are new signs that President Trump is uninterested in respecting the election results. For decades, candidates in Illinois have been required to voluntarily pledge not to support overthrowing the U.S. government, a relic of the Red Scare era. President Trump signed that pledge in 2016 and 2020. I didn’t do that this year.

The campaign released a statement over the weekend.

“President Trump will take the oath of office again on January 20, 2025, vowing to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and fulfill his duties to the best of his ability,” Press Secretary Stephen Chan said. . , protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. ”

Mr. Chong makes a good point, although it was not his intention. Making President Trump promise to faithfully carry out his presidential duties and respect the Constitution is an empty promise.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Republican Party is in turmoil after members voted to oust Cristina Karamo as party chair. Karamo won her nomination and the position after losing her bid to become Michigan’s secretary of state, in part because of her vocal support for President Trump’s election fraud claims. She lost by 14 points, but as expected, she refused to admit her defeat.

What was her reaction to the vote to remove her from her position?The vote is illegal And she was still the party chairman.

There are other examples of how Republicans have fought to combat election results. From the arrest of an Arizona county official who refused to certify the 2022 results to the nearly 30 Republican lawmakers charged or sanctioned for participating in the 2020 election fraud conspiracy, the aftermath of Stefanik’s riot was related to Pennsylvania’s vote. It’s all downstream from President Trump’s attempts to maintain power.

This doesn’t mean Trump was needed for this change. Republicans have long sought to promote the idea that elections are rife with fraud, paving the way for legislation that could make it more difficult for voters who traditionally support Democrats to vote. Ta.

Trump picked up on that rhetoric and used it for his own purposes. Then he took it even further, building a world where he could not only challenge vote margins in close races, but also treat any losses as questionable, and reward that. He and his allies refused to see November 7, 2020 — the day the race was called — as the end point of their efforts. They rejected an end date of Dec. 14, the day of the electoral convention. They rejected January 6, 2021 as the endpoint.

This is courtroom coverage of democracy that extends beyond the 2020 presidential election. Stefanik’s rationalization and Karamo’s opportunism show how it persists. Mr. Trump and Mr. Stefanik’s rhetoric represents the most serious danger.

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