Last weekend’s demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and other cities by President Donald Trump’s supporters made clear that there are a lot of people who believe that there were improprieties in the recent presidential voting — perhaps enough to have stolen the election.
Although the claim that the election was stolen is false, improprieties can never be ruled out. Trump and his supporters have every right to challenge what they see as errors in the vote. But they need evidence to support their allegations. Thus far, there is no evidence of systemic impropriety and no explanation has been offered as to how the election was supposedly “stolen.”
The Trump team has seen virtually no success in their court challenges. The president’s lawyers have struggled to justify many of their claims and have had to backtrack from others. In Pennsylvania, for example, where a razor thin victory was declared for Biden, attorneys for Trump asked a judge to halt the counting of ballots in Philadelphia, claiming that Republican observers had been barred at a vote count site. But in response to court questioning, the Trump team conceded that “a nonzero number of [Republican observers were] in the room.” In other words, the claim that Republicans had been barred was false. This week, the president’s legal team withdrew the claim that absentee ballots were processed without campaign representatives being present.
So what is the Trump team thinking, and what is their game plan? The history of success in challenges to vote counts is not great. Indeed, when thousands of votes separate the candidates, recounts almost never change the result. But even assuming some success in the challenge effort, does the Trump team really believe that one or two victories will actually change the election outcome?
The numbers don’t add up for the Trump dream. Biden’s certified Electoral College numbers guarantee victory unless Trump essentially runs the table in his voter fraud challenges. And based upon what we have seen thus far — both in terms of evidence produced and court rulings on the challenges — that is not going to happen.
Bluster and groundless claims are expected during campaigns. We got a lot of that, and have had our fill. In the run up to and on Nov. 3, the voters spoke. While clearly divided, the voters elected Joe Biden. Frivolous lawsuits and baseless accusations won’t change that result. They will just prolong the agony, further embarrass the loser and increase hard feelings and resentment. None of that can be helpful to Donald Trump.
One of the most respected traditions of our democracy is the orderly transfer of power following a control changing election. We have had our election, and the results are clear. It is now time for Trump to show humility, a grasp of reality and respect for American tradition by cooperating fully in the orderly transfer of information, authority and governance to the Biden team. Failure to do so will bring dishonor, embarrassment and further failure to the Trump team, and an enduring black mark on Trump’s legacy.