Viewpoint: A question of character 



By Gail Marshall 

We just voted in a special election to elect Rep. Nicole Grohoski as our state senator. 

Rep. Grohoski and her special election opponent, Republican Brian Langley, will appear on the ballot for a full term in November. So, shortly we will get a re-do. 

Maybe this time Mr. Langley will be willing to present himself to the voters in a discussion of salient issues with Rep. Grohoski. He refused to do that for this election. 

Yes, we definitely want his opinion on a great many policy issues relevant to our lives. But no Republican candidate for any office should be allowed to “pass go” without answering this question: Who won the 2020 presidential election?  

Why is this critical? It seems a bit deranged to have to debate it. Real facts are clear and unequivocal. Joe Biden won. By a lot. And there was no evidence of any fraud or error to challenge that. And yet, in droves, Republican political officeholders and seekers either support Donald Trump’s lie that he won, or, like Bruce Poliquin and, it seems, Brian Langley, refuse to answer what in any other moment in our history would be an entirely non-controversial question: Who won the last election? It’s no harder than what colors are on the American flag? Is rain wet? Is Christmas in December? 

This betrays a much deeper problem. Nationally, politicians denying reality on a host of issues are voted for by millions of Republican voters. Forty percent of Maine Republican Second District Congressional primary voters preferred a candidate who swore to align with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia). No one who has ever listened to Rep. Taylor Greene could fairly conclude she is anything other than a pernicious internet troll. But that now passes for a successful resume for an alarming number of Republicans. 

Why does this matter? Because far too many Republicans are choosing to attempt to take and cling to political office by any means, no matter how foul or undemocratic. 

Denying reality is an essential component and millions of Republicans have now crossed over from disagreeing about how to solve our problems to denying or avoiding basic facts. In so doing, you duck responsibility to keep your party on an even keel. 

Then it’s denying a fair vote to those who might not be disposed to vote for them. In state after state, harsh anti-voter laws have been passed since the last election. Candidates for secretaries of state and other key election officials who supported overturning the last presidential election are bent on not failing at that task in the future and are poised to be elected. Congressional districts in a great many states are fragmented into dizzying configurations to give Republicans a lock on perpetual legislative election victories.  

And still, the lies. They push and push the lies to the point that Republicans who know better have silenced themselves. But you cannot continue to do that and be true to yourself and our shared values. There are worse things in life than losing an election or leaving a political party that has ceased to adhere to fundamental democratic values. 

No democracy can stand if one of our two major political parties refuses to support a fair and decent election process and refuses to acknowledge the outcome, win or lose, and goes further to actively subvert and prevent the peaceful and orderly transition of power. Autocrats and dictators act that way and no one else. 

We are soon to be undone utterly if Republicans – candidates, office holders and individual voters – do not step forward in great number to publicly affirm their devotion to the Constitution and to our government of laws, the peaceful transition of power and to understanding and accepting plain, non-controvertible facts. We are a nation of democratic ideals, and we fail if you turn your back on them in favor of a patently fantastical story on Facebook, Telegram or Tucker Carlson’s show that’s gotten under your skin and made you afraid or angry. 

Stop firing cannonballs broadside into the USS Constitution and help right the ship. Independence Day, our most patriotic of holidays, would be a good time to come clean from the fevered dream of lies, fears, anger and division. Take some responsibility for what is being done in your name. Join again in the constructive work of democratic self-governance. Let’s once again together debate and try to solve real issues that matter to all of us in a manner that continues to hold us together as a nation.  

 

Gail Marshall lives in Mount Desert. 

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