In the aftermath of the 2020 election — and the post-election hijinks and refusal to accept the results by the losing presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and many of his supporters — a large, distinguished and still-growing group of political scientists and scholars in other related fields from around the country have signed on to what they call a “Statement of Concern” about some of the ongoing “stop-the-steal” buffoonery.
I was born late in the Truman administration and paid ever-growing attention to presidential elections since the Eisenhower era. Of course, I’ve never seen anything like this aftermath.
While the rightful winner of the 2020 election, Joe Biden, has taken office, news stories appear every day about ongoing efforts to still overturn the result of the election and return Trump to power sometime later this year. I wish I could laugh, but I can’t.
Here’s the first paragraph of the document:
We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.
As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, the signatories number a little over 250, but I gather more are signing and will have done so before you can access the document on Thursday.
It’s a smart and, I would say, level-headed 10-paragraph statement. Trump’s name appears just three times, two of them in this passage:
… By multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.
Of course, you know all that. But the fact that this large and growing group of scholars decided to release the statement reflects the seriousness with which these scholars view the lies, violence, ongoing “stop the steal” protests and ongoing efforts to bring about bogus recounts and suppress future voters whom Trump supporters fear will not vote right. The petition suggests some of the ways that might occur, and you’ve been reading about those voter suppression ideas for months now, but I pass along the collective statement of hundreds of experts in the field who find these developments more than worrisome.