Local elections are notorious for their low turnout. But this year, Tuesday’s voting won’t just be about school boards and town budgets; it will make a difference, maybe THE difference, to our imperiled democracy.
Had you heard of Brad Raffensperger before the 2020 election? Probably not. Raffensperger is the Georgia Secretary of State who resisted President Trump’s demands that he “find 11,780 votes” to keep him in the Oval Office. A guy you’d never heard of turned out to be a bulwark against a coup d’etat. For that act, Mr. Raffensperger’s life is regularly threatened by his fellow Republicans.
Yes, this was, and IS a coup attempt. I was in the Capitol on January 6 until I was run to safety by heavily armed officers. The death threats, the sight of the gallows, the brutality against the police and the promise to hang Vice President Mike Pence have not faded from my memory.
I’ve seen the Eastman memo detailing the “legal” case for Pence to overturn the will of the American people that day. I watched the clown-car Kraken roadshow of Rudy Giuliani and the MyPillow guy promote the evidence-free lie of election fraud, an utter absurdity but for the fact that two-thirds of Republicans nationwide continue to believe it. I’ve read about the coup’s war room in the Willard Hotel.
Most importantly, the coup attempt is not over. Red states are rejiggering their laws to make it easier for Trump legislators to overrule future Brad Raffenspergers. Trump and his supporters are systematically purging their party of those like my friend Adam Kinzinger with the courage to speak the obvious truth.
Sadly, Adam is the rare exception. Most of my Republican colleagues would rather not talk about it. Locally, Republicans are using CRT nonsense and unfounded fears of Hartford-driven zoning takeovers to change the subject. Remember: democracies collapse because a small band of zealots faces off against a confused or complacent majority.
So, about Tuesday. There are reasons to vote Republican. Before the party capitulated to Donald Trump, I had done so on occasion. But if you care about our democracy, do so only for those Republicans who have been able to say, loud and clear, that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, and that beliefs to the contrary are an existential threat to our Republic. To do so is an indicator of integrity and courage. It’s also table stakes. If you can’t say that, you have no business taking an oath to support and defend the constitution.
I have never been melodramatic or hyperbolic. But I know in my core that the coup is not over. Trump, or a less-damaged, more capable, version is coming back in 2024, will-of-the-people be damned. When you go to the polls on Tuesday, ask yourself who you want standing for you when that happens.