The Rationalist Papers 2022: voting to preserve democracy

It’s a fundamental principle of democracy. If you lose, you concede. You accept the results of elections, whether you win or not. And that principle is on the ballot in 2022.

Whatever your political ideology, I’m betting you’d like to have a say in future elections. Here’s why, in states like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Maine, your vote could determine whether democracy continues.

This post is for people who are highly skeptical of Democrats and Joe Biden and wonder if now is the time to elect governors, senators, US representatives, and state legislators who will bring the country back in a Republican direction. If you’re still open to arguments about the election, here’s my thesis: regardless of your political ideology, your vote may end up mattering most if it forecloses fair elections in your state, or federally. So you should consider candidates’ positions on accepting election results above all other questions, because your choice could end up making a difference to the future of our democracy. This applies especially to state offices like governor or secretary of state, since those officials make final decisions on elections.

In 2020, Trump and his policies were on the ballot. I published a series of posts leading up the election that addressed what a Trump or Biden vote would mean for the future of democracy. Obviously, many of you shared my concerns, which is one reason that Biden won. (If you don’t accept that Biden won, then don’t bother reading on — this post isn’t likely to change your mind.)

Why does this matter in 2022? According to an analysis by The Washington Post, in tomorrow’s election, 291 candidates for the House, Senate, or key statewide offices have denied or questioned the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. These include candidates who “directly questioned Biden’s victory, opposed the counting of Biden’s electoral college votes, expressed support for a partisan post-election ballot review, signed on to lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 result, or attended or expressed support for the Jan. 6, 2021, ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Washington that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol.”

If you’re voting for governor or secretary of state where the presidential vote is consistently either Democratic or Republican, such as Massachusetts or Alabama, this isn’t so much of an issue. But it matters a lot in some swing states, as I describe below.

In Arizona, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem could permanently cripple the state’s elections

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 10,000 votes in Arizona. That result has held up despite many recounts and challenges attempting to find election fraud.

Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State, the top elections official in Arizona, is a member of the Oath Keepers group that stormed the capitol on January 6 — although he says he didn’t enter the building. And he contends that Biden stole the 2020 election.

Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor, has also denied the 2020 election results and her lawsuit based on unfounded allegations of problems with voting machines in 2020 was thrown out because the lawsuit failed to show any realistic likelihood of harm.

If you want democracy to continue on Arizona, vote for Katie Hobbs for governor and Adrian Fontes for Secretary of State.

In Michigan, election conspiracists are running for secretary of state and attorney general

Joe Biden won Michigan by 150,000 votes. It wasn’t close.

Kristina Karamo, Republican candidate for secretary of state, filed a lawsuit based on conspiracy theories about mail voting. Matthew DePerno, Republican candidate for attorney general, is under investigation for a plot to seize and tamper with voting machines.

Tudor Dixon, Republican candidate for governor, stated during the primaries that widespread election fraud changed the outcome of the 2020 election.

If this worries you, vote to reelect Gretchen Whitmer for governor, Dana Nessel for attorney general, and Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state

In Nevada, the secretary of state candidate claims he was a victim of election fraud

Joe Biden won Nevada by 33,000 votes.

Jim Marchant, Republican candidate for secretary of state, said he lost his own 2020 election for state assembly due to election fraud in mail ballots. “I’ve been working since Nov. 4, 2020, to expose what happened, and what I found out is horrifying,” he said. His opponent, Cisco Aguilar, wants to make it a felony to harass or intimidate election workers, and he deserves your vote.

Joe Lombardo, Republican candidate for governor, does not believe there was substantial fraud in the 2020 election.

Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania is a prominent election denier

Pennsylvania was one of the main battlegrounds in the fight about the 2020 election. Even though Biden won by 80,000 votes, a result that was confirmed by every recount, candidates continue to claim fraud.

Doug Mastriano, Republican candidate for governor, was a prominent proponent of the false claim that there was election fraud in Pennsylvania in 2020, with many appearances and social media posts sharing conspiracy theories about fraud. He spent $3,000 to bus Trump supporters to the January 6 capitol rally and crossed police barricades while he was there. If you want to preserve fair elections in Pennsylvania, vote for his opponent, Josh Shapiro.

John Fetterman, Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat, was prominent in defending election results in 2020 when he was lieutenant governor. His opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, was more vague: he says would have voted to confirm Biden’s election, but had previous said “we cannot move on” from the 2020 election, and has supported a lot more investigation.

Georgia senate and house candidates denied the 2020 election results

Joe Biden narrowly won Georgia in 2020, by about 12,000 votes

Brian Kemp, Georgia Republican candidate for governor, refused Donald Trump’s entreaties to change the 2020 election results in that state. His opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, acknowledges that she lost her election in 2018, said that ballot access was a problem and that she would have won had more Democrats been allowed to vote.

The Republican candidate for the Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, supported Donald Trump’s claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, but said he would accept the results of his own election. If you’re concerned about Walker’s position in elections, vote for his opponent, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.

Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene objected to certifying the election results in Michigan on the House floor, has said “we know the election was stolen,” and has expressed solidarity with the rioters who stormed the capitol. Her opponent is Democrat Marcus Flowers. In all, 11 Republican candidates for the U.S. House from Georgia are election deniers.

Maine’s governor candidate Paul LePage denies that Biden won

My home state of Maine is not a swing state. But, unlike 48 other states, it awards electoral college votes by district. Maine’s second district has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past; it voted for Trump in 2020.

While Paul LePage, the Republican candidate for governor, affirmed that Biden was legitimately elected, according to the Portland Press Herald, “LePage has a long and well-documented history of casting evidence-free aspersions on Maine election results. He questioned the integrity of Maine’s 2016 election before and after the vote. He declared Jared Golden’s 2018 defeat of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin a ‘stolen election.’ He said the 2020 presidential election was ‘clearly stolen’ and suggested Democrats might have cast votes on behalf of his deceased parents. This spring he made unsubstantiated claims that Massachusetts residents had been bused into Waterville to vote in a 2009 referendum.” I’ll be voting for his opponent, Democrat Janet Mills.

Bruce Poliquin, the Republican running for Congress in the second district, refused to answer a direct question about who won the 2020 election. I’m not in the second district, but if I was, I’d vote for his opponent, Democrat Jared Golden.

Before you vote, verify whether your candidate will accept the results of elections

As you vote in 2022, reflect on the fact that your choice could determine whether the 2024 election is conducted fairly or not. If you elect a governor or secretary of state who are undermining elections, your votes in the future might not count. If you elect senators or representatives who don’t accept elections, they may lodge objections to the certification of the winners of the 2024 election and block the transition of power. Even your local state legislators may vote to block or distort election results in your state.

Do your online research on this topic before voting. And start with checking your state with this tool from the Washington Post.

Inflation, gas prices, Ukraine, abortion, and trans rights are all important issues. But in this election, the most important issue is if our votes from here on out will count or not.

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    1. What Steven said! How did this end up becoming a one-sided issue? Is it just because Trump is loud, so people just heard it louder? We had four years of it coming from the left into 2020 – and Hillary has already proclaimed 2024 to be stolen by the Republicans, two years before a single ballot has been cast!

      1. Please get your facts straight. Clinton said they have a plan to steal the election, not that “it is stolen.” That plan is to elect the people I’ve cited in my post.

    2. You’re way too smart for a comment like this, Steve.

      I didn’t say that America is, or should be, a DIRECT democracy in which everyone gets one vote for every office and we just count them all up. That’s an interesting idea, but it’s not how it works here.

      A democracy is a system of government in which we decide who gets government posts by voting in a competitive election. Yes, that rolls up through the electoral college in the case of the vote for president. But I think we’d all agree that it’s a violation of democratic principles if we just let the state legislature decide which candidate gets the state’s votes for president. That’s what’s at stake here: the idea that we vote and our vote matters. If you’d prefer to live in a country that is not an actual democracy, you’re welcome to move to China or Russia.

      Stacy Abrams is a good example of someone on the Democratic side who you could argue has denied the results of an election. And a lot of worried that George W. Bush wasn’t really the winner of the Bush v. Gore election. But we moved on. Anyone who is still effectively litigating the results of 2020, or 2016 for that matter, shouldn’t get votes, Democrats included. I’m waiting to see that list of Democrats.

      The Republicans on this list are still protesting that 2020 was illegitimate, and some are taking steps in state elections to take control of the process away from the voters. I’m against that.

      1. One list of Democrat election deniers during recent years, with links: Until all the Democrat leaders who labeled Trump an illegitimate president repudiate their claims, and publicly own up to their partisan advancement of the fake Russian interference narrative (& their brush-off of the obvious Hunter Biden scandal), I remain skeptical that Democrats will be the saviors of democracy. I also remain skeptical that Republicans will be saviors either, but that’s another story.

  1. Democrats did not make unfounded claims about the power of the Vice President and Congress to turn aside presidential electors. Democrats did not send thousands marching to the Capitol. Democrats did not break into the Capitol and attempt to halt the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats did not make provably false claims about voting machines changing votes. Democrats did not bring dozens of lawsuits that failed to prove any significant election fraud. No, it was republicans that did all of that. This election matters a lot.

  2. Steve, you’re showing your stripes. Please refrain from using the incorrect adjective ‘Democrat’ rather than ‘Democratic’ to describe voters, candidates or elected leaders who are not Republicans. Or, should we start calling you ‘Republics’?