Time Now for Republicans to Stand Up For America and Its Democratic Tradition

The repeated assertion by Donald Trump that the upcoming election is “rigged” and thus illegitimate needs to be denounced forcefully by all Republicans, including the Chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Preibus. It is not only an unprecedented attack on the legitimacy of our political system by the nominee of an American political party, it is disturbingly resonant of the strategic aims of Vladimir Putin – to weaken the image of democratic capitalism and the West in the eyes of the world. Republicans must rediscover their inner patriot immediately – and not just denounce Trump’s outrageous claims, but also repudiate the involvement of a foreign adversary and its allied institutions like WikiLeaks in an American election.

The GOP’s drift from full throated support of American democratic norms is not something new to our politics. From shutting the government down as a tactic in a normal budget negotiation, to yelling “liar” at the President during the State of the Union, to an historic abuse of the Senate filibuster, to denying President Obama his Constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, the national Republican Party has been crossing lines that should not be crossed in our democracy far too often in recent years.

But there has been perhaps no greater betrayal of the American creed than the systemic effort by Republicans across the country in the last several years to make it harder for Americans to vote. While in theory one could defend the idea of “voter ID,” courts now have repeatedly determined that the way it has been crafted by Republicans have been unconstitutional and illegal; and the other steps taken by Republicans in the name of “reform” to eliminate early voting windows, reduce the number of polling locations and erect barriers for registration have been designed with only one malevolent intent in mind – to make it harder for everyday people to participate in their own democracy. As Ari Berman has noted in recent days, Republican in four states who had their new election laws tossed out or altered – North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin – are continuing to use restrictive practices already outlawed by the courts in this election as we speak. No Republican leader of course has stood up to repudiate this shameful national strategy which to me is as gross a violation of democratic norms as anything Trump has done or said this year.

In the days ahead Republicans have been given an extraordinary opportunity to reaffirm their patriotism and support of our inspirational democratic tradition for all Americans to see. If they fail to seize it, we may witnessing one of the greatest betrayals of our democratic tradition by a political party in all of American history.

-Simon Rosenberg, NDN

Simon recently covered these topics in a major op-ed for US News & World Report, "Calling all Patriots".