The Day – The Cult of Trump and His Influence in Connecticut

They display their “Trump won” bumper stickers, display their Trump flags and secular banners targeting President Biden. I tried to have rational conversations, both in person and via email, with a few of these 2020 election deniers. I found they had no interest in being rational.

These Trump loyalists quickly become angry and agitated when challenged. I’ve heard claims that voting machines have been hacked on a massive scale to steal Trump’s votes, sometimes Democrats and sometimes China being the alleged hacker. Some say mail-in ballots were fabricated for Biden, or bags of ballots were destroyed in pro-Trump counties, or scams continued while poll watchers were barred from accessing the process counting. Etc.

All this has long been refuted as nonsense. And we recently learned from the January 6 investigation that Trump’s senior officials told him early on that these stolen election allegations were, in the words of Attorney General William Barr, “absolute garbage”, “stuff crazy” and “BS”

Some Trump supporters argue there’s no way Biden could have beaten their guy in a fair election, so he must have been rigged. It is so obvious, they insist, that it is not necessary to prove exactly how.

Reality seems irrelevant to these Trump supporters and to three-quarters of the Republican Party, where voter fraud is now the dominant position. Polls consistently show that about a quarter of Republicans are willing to agree that Biden legitimately won. In Republican-dominated states and districts, it’s hard to win a Republican primary without falsely claiming that Trump won.

My job as a journalist was to investigate the behavior of cults. People from a cult told me things that made no sense from my rational and objective position. But the cult members considered these things to be absolute truths because of their blind faith in the leader or leaders who had control over them. The exchanges with ardent Trump supporters are much the same.

This is a threat to our model of self-government and its constitutional foundation of checks and balances. If you lose an election and something fraudulent has happened, you can appeal to various election officials and ultimately to the courts. But once the courts decide and uphold the results, that should be it. A candidate, especially a sitting president, has a constitutional imperative to accept these results.

If it becomes commonplace for election losers to refuse to recognize the voters’ verdict and tell their supporters that they have been deceived and that those in office are there illegitimately, then our democracy will crumble. Republicans are headed down this path.

Republican senators should have joined Democrats in voting to impeach President Trump for breaking his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” Trump has sought to undermine the Constitution by placing his own will to preserve power above the will of the people and the verdict of the courts. Forty-three Republicans, by refusing to convict, put politics above loyalty to the Constitution.

Now there is the possibility of Trump being indicted on criminal charges. There are compelling arguments to sue Trump, but that would make him a martyr to his supporters. His supporters would see it as just further proof of the plot to block Trump by any means possible. Their anger will grow.

The nation is bad.

Trump has been a problem for Republican prospects in Connecticut. Before Trump, Republicans had secured an 18-18 tie in the state Senate and a near tie in the House, allowing the party to strike deals relying on the support of moderate Democrats. Since Trump’s arrival on the scene in 2016, Democrats have once again increased their legislative majorities in states as anti-Trump fervor has boosted Democratic turnout and placed more unaffiliated voters in the Democratic column. Democrats hold all of the statewide positions, all five seats in Congress and two seats in the Senate.

To win a district or statewide office, a Connecticut Republican must siphon off Democratic votes, be strong among unaffiliated voters, and command overwhelming support and broad turnout from the Republican base. Trump made it harder.

In his rematch with Governor Ned Lamont, Republican Bob Stefanowski went as far as he thinks he can go when it comes to Trump. Hoping that’s enough to satisfy moderate Democrats and unaffiliated voters, Stefanowski recognized Biden as the rightful winner of 2020. But don’t expect him to condemn Trump’s behavior or acknowledge the threat he poses. for democracy. This risks alienating Trump’s base, leading some to withhold their financial support and votes (although they won’t vote for Lamont). Simply acknowledging that Biden won likely cost the Republican gubernatorial candidate the votes of some Trump fanatics.

Stefanowski would much rather talk about Biden, crime, inflation, and his own promises to improve government efficiency and cut spending (details are lacking). In other words, Stefanowski wants this election to be about Biden and Connecticut issues, not Trump.

But the former president’s continued rages over a stolen election, and the fact that Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices have just stripped women of their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the early stages, n won’t help. Expect Lamont, while defending his own record, to push his stance on abortion rights and link Stefanowski to Trump at every opportunity.

Paul Choiniere is the former editor of The Day’s editorial page, now retired. You can reach him at [email protected]

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