Pennsylvania officials indulge election delusion at Trump rally

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board (TNS)
Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz joins former President Donald Trump onstage during a rally in support of his campaign at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds on May 6, 2022, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Former President Trump endorsed Dr. Oz in the Pennsylvania Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate over his top opponent David McCormick. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/TNS)

Under rainy skies last Thursday evening in Greensburg, several Pennsylvania politicians continued to indulge the delusion that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, wearing an American-flag print polo shirt, called the election “the greatest theft in American history.” Jim Bognet, a candidate for the 8th Congressional District near Scranton, claimed that he was personally robbed of victory in 2020 when his 10,000-vote lead evaporated. And Stacy Garrity, the current Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, said of the defeated 45th president, “We know that he won.”

No, we don’t. We know he lost.

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It was an embarrassing spectacle at Trump’s rally as these influential leaders groveled to remain in his good graces. But lying about the election is more than that: It nurtures a delusion that threatens the very foundations of the American political system.

Orderly transitions of power are one of the most important — and most challenging — tests of a political system. Many people have believed in democracy until they lost. Disputes about who is rightfully in charge have initiated some of the most destructive conflicts in history. In fact, they are one of the primary causes of the weakening and collapse of great empires, from the ancient world to the modern age.

This is why one of the most dangerous moments in American history occurred in 1800, when Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republicans defeated incumbent John Adams of the Federalists. It was the first transition of power from one faction to another and could have broken the young republic. Jefferson assumed power without major incident. We are still here as a nation because the losers accepted losing.

Every time politicians — especially sitting officials — endorse the stolen election fantasy, they damage their own credibility. But they also, ironically, undermine the political future of Trump himself, whose unseemly obsession with 2020 is not shared by the electorate he desires to woo one more time.

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Worse, when sitting political officials like Kelly and Garrity question who the rightful president is, they undermine a great and necessary American tradition. And they lay the foundation for every election to result in Jan. 6th-style tumult.

But most importantly, they blast out one of the largest pieces of the foundation of the American republic.

— From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board (TNS).