President Donald Trump and his bad-at-everything, bewilderingly bonkers bandwagon of “rigged election!” liars are going to get somebody killed, quite possibly a Republican.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Gabriel Sterling, a respected Georgia election official who also happens to be a lifelong Republican.
At a Tuesday news conference, Sterling directly and angrily addressed Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud and said: “Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. ... Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right.”
Sterling continued, and I encourage you to pay attention to every word, because he’s saying what every Republican in the U.S. House and Senate should be saying:
“It has all gone too far. All of it. Joe diGenova [one of Trump’s attorneys] asked for Chris Krebs, a patriot who ran [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency], to be shot. A 20-something tech from Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches … to a county computer so he could read it.
“It has to stop. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.
“My boss, Secretary [Brad] Raffensperger, his address is out there. They have people doing caravans in front of his house, they’ve had people come onto their property. Tricia, his wife of 40 years, is getting sexualized threats through her cellphone. It has to stop.
“This is elections, this is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. ... I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this. Every American, every Georgian, Republican and Democrat alike, should have that same level of anger.”
Sterling and I would likely disagree on many if not most political issues. He said during his news conference he still supports the two Republican Senate candidates facing runoffs in Georgia—Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler—but he implored them to stand up against Trump and Co.’s unhinged rhetoric.
Because it is unhinged, deeply. Republican officials in swing states across the country require security details because of the volume of death threats coming their way from Trump supporters lapping this conspiracy up.
Cries of “Treason!” and calls for martial law are coming from Trump loyalists at Fox News and right-wing radio squawkers, and that manipulative nonsense filters down to people submerged in the alternate reality Trump has created.
If you don’t think it’s dangerous, take a quick trip through the social media site Parler, which has become a safe space for Trump supporters whose calls for violence get them banned from Twitter and Facebook.
You’ll find posts like: “Would love to see a few thousand traitors hanged/beheaded/heads on a pike/firing squad is too merciful for these bastards.”
And this: “‘We the People’ are fed up, blood will flow!”
And this: “I hope we have a giant civil war. We can kill the Rinos first, then kill the communists.” (RINO stands for “Republican In Name Only.”)
As Sterling said, this has to stop. Trump’s lawyers have yet to show an ounce of evidence to back up their claims about massive voter fraud. They’re being defeated in courtroom after courtroom after courtroom.
On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr, a Trump-backing zealot, said the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud “that could have effected a different outcome in the election.
And how did the Trump die-hards respond? Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs said: “For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement he is either a liar or a fool or both. He may be, perhaps, compromised. He may be simply unprincipled, or he may be personally distraught or ill.”
Compromised? Ill? Dobbs is so deep in the far-right fever swamps he’s inhaling algae.
Anyone presently buying the hot garbage Trump and his cabal of Machiavellian misfits are selling has mentally parachuted from the plane of reality.
All the more reason we need more Republicans like Sterling to stand up and call for reason and decency to prevail. The Republican Party let itself get hijacked by Trump, and that New York narcissist will now happily salve the wounds to his ego by crushing the Grand Old Party to dust.
In the process, if this talk of grand conspiracies and sedition and robbed elections continues, somebody’s going to get killed.
And the fact that I’m having to quote Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia’s secretary of state’s office, rather than a Republican U.S. senator or congressperson is pathetic.
I’ll repeat Sterling’s words: “… you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.”
This is dangerous, destructive nonsense. And it’s growing more dangerous by the day.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. This column was originally published on Dec. 2.