In a few weeks, Virginia will hold an election and I will have to make a decision. Both the Democratic and the Republican candidates for governor could be described as moderates. In the past, it would have been no contest. I’d have voted Republican. But now, though Terry McAuliffe leaves me cold, I will vote for him. I guess that makes me a single-issue voter.
What is that issue?
Take a quick tour with me of the current Republican party.
In the past 12 months, we’ve witnessed true integrity and more than a little courage on the part of some Republicans. Aaron Van Langevelde was an obscure, 40-year-old lawyer who was serving on the Michigan state board of canvassers in November 2020. The board has four members, two from each party. Facing pressure from MAGA world, the other Republican on the board withheld certification of Michigan’s vote. Van Langevelde stood his ground.
We must not attempt to exercise power we simply don’t have. As John Adams once said, we are a government of laws, not men. This board needs to adhere to that principle here today. This board must do its part to uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal duty to certify this election.
You know what happened next, right? Van Langevelde became a Republican celebrity. He was invited onto Fox News and right-wing talk radio shows, his face graced the cover of magazines, he was praised on the floor of the Senate, and he was offered a book contract by Regnery.
Oh, wait—none of that happened. Instead, Van Langevelde was booted from his post on the board of canvassers by the Michigan Republican Party. He and his family received death threats and had to request police protection. There’s almost a silver lining to the story in that Van Langevelde’s replacement also denies the Big Lie about the election. But the appointment had to be made by Michigan’s governor, a Democrat, so, maybe not too reassuring.
Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, should also have become a GOP pin-up. Though harassed and “lightly threatened,” as Rep. Madison Cawthorn might say, by the president of the United States, he refused to lie and cheat. He told the truth even when lying became the only principle his party appeared to stand for. Beyond that, Raffensperger contributed to the civic health of the republic by recording the president asking him to “find” the 11,780 votes to alter the outcome of Georgia’s election.
Raffensperger and his family were forced to move out of their home for a week in November and have continued to receive the ugliest kind of threats and harassment even months after the election. One warned that a family member “was going to have a very unfortunate incident.” Another said “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”
Naturally, all members of the Georgia delegation in Congress and both U.S. Senators condemned the threats and praised Raffensperger’s integrity. They stressed that the Republican party and the country cannot tolerate such thuggish conduct in public life.
Nope, wrong again. I wish I could say that they were merely silent—though that would have been incriminating enough. But no, both Republican senators at the time, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, called on Raffensperger to resign. Their joint statement read in part (trigger warning for those with sensitive digestion): “Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The secretary of state has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”
Loeffler and Perdue were involuntarily retired in January—who could have guessed that alleging vote rigging isn’t the greatest way to goose turnout?—but they better represent the spirit of the GOP than Raffensperger. At the state party convention in June, Raffensperger was formally censured, and Gov. Brian Kemp was roundly booed. A few months later, Trump found a willing lickspittle to challenge Raffensperger for reelection, Rep. Jody Hice. Trump is also supporting two other secretary of state candidates in swing states that could determine the outcome of the 2024 election. All Trump-endorsed candidates recite the lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent, that Democrats always cheat, and that Trump deserves to be sitting in the Oval Office today.
It’s the same around the nation. In Washington State, nobody’s idea of a Republican stronghold, the local GOP, jazzed by a pillow huckster and inspired by right-wing talk, are looking to mimic Maricopa County’s embarrassing “forensic audit” spectacle. The Ohio Republican Party’s central committee voted in May to censure Rep. Anthony Gonzalez and nine other members because they voted to impeach Trump.
Of course, now that these public servants have learned of Trump’s legal advisor’s six-point plan to overturn the election, they’ve rescinded the censures and investigations of illusory fraud and issued a sincere apologies, right?
No, instead Gonzalez has announced that he’s not seeking reelection amid rumors that he and his young family have received threats.
In Nevada, the GOP formally censured the Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for failing to challenge the election results. In Michigan, the Calhoun County Republican Party censured Rep. Peter Meijer for his impeachment vote. Wyoming’s GOP did the same to Rep. Liz Cheney, and the Arizona GOP did likewise to Gov. Doug Ducey merely for certifying his state’s electoral vote. Cheney was bounced from her leadership position in the House Republican Conference. The Arizona GOP, of course, is further beclowning itself with the never-ending search for bamboo fibers. In Michigan, the Macomb County GOP censured three Republican state senators whose committee failed to find vote fraud, and the executive director of the state GOP, Jason Roe, was forced to resign after saying, “Frankly, continuing to humor [Trump] merely excuses his role in this. Given how close it was, there is no one to blame but Trump.” In May, more than 500 activists rallied outside GOP headquarters denouncing Roe as a “traitor” and demanding his ouster. They got their pelt.
In Oklahoma, the GOP chairman John Bennett has endorsed a primary challenger to unseat two-term incumbent Sen. James Lankford. Lankford didn’t vote to impeach Trump, but did fail to object to the electoral college tally. Bennett’s chosen challenger once suggested that Hillary Clinton face a firing squad.
So there really is only a single issue I will vote on in 2021—truth. The Republican party, in Washington and nationally, has become a conspiracy of liars. As such, it threatens the stability of the republic. Even a seemingly inoffensive candidate like Glenn Youngkin has given aid and comfort to this sinister agenda by stressing “election integrity” in his campaign. It doesn’t change a thing to reflect that he’s almost certainly insincere. He stopped talking about it after winning the primary, suggesting that all the “integrity” talk was just a sop to MAGA voters. Still, a victory for him will send a message that the Republican party is normal again, a party that good people can support.
It’s not. It’s a cult dedicated to lying, rewarding liars, and punishing truth tellers. I won’t vote for it.