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OpinionEditorial

For GOP, time to accept reality

President Donald Trump during an election night party

President Donald Trump during an election night party with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the East Room of the White House. Credit: Bloomberg/Al Drago

When is enough enough? What will it take for Republican Party leaders to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election?

There are real-world consequences for their craven refusal to accept publicly President Donald Trump’s defeat. Giving Trump oxygen to peddle his baseless charges of voter fraud is hampering the urgent planning Biden and his team must do to address the raging coronavirus pandemic. The incoming president requires access to federal data, programs and officials to be ready to attack COVID-19 from Day One, access denied as Trump refuses to concede and bodies pile up in morgues.

There are other pressing issues — most notably, national security. Our adversaries around the world see vulnerability in a distracted president, an administration in turmoil, and the next president unable to get the daily intelligence briefings he needs. Biden has been denied funds and offices in key departments for his staff to begin the transition process. Trump’s obstinacy has even led to such pettiness as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s refusal to forward to Biden congratulations from foreign leaders, the vast majority of whom accept that Biden won.

So, too, do most Americans. But not, according to several polls, Republican voters who are listening to Trump, fringe right-wing media and Republican officeholders who know better but won’t call out the president’s rejection of reality. And there are reports that GOP election officials in some states who have not supported Trump’s claims are receiving death threats.

There is no sane conclusion but that Biden beat Trump. The president and his cronies have made charges of rampant voter fraud, but have provided no evidence. Republicans touted a Pennsylvania postal service worker’s claims that a postmaster in Erie had given orders to backdate mail-in ballots so they would meet a deadline to be counted; the postal worker admitted this week he fabricated the story and recanted. Pennsylvania ballots arriving after Election Day have been kept separate because of GOP lawsuits, but fewer than 10,000 ballots fall into that bucket. If they are not allowed to be counted, Biden still has a 54,000-vote lead.

In other states, Trump’s lawyers have admitted to judges that they are not asserting fraud. Audits of ballots in Arizona and elsewhere have detected no fraud. Recounts — a certainty only in Georgia, where Biden is up by 14,000 votes — would be unlikely to overcome leads ranging from 11,000 to 148,000 in Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin and Arizona. The most shameful behavior is coming from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose enabling of Trump is intended to curry favor with the president’s supporters to gain an edge in Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff election which will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

But amid all the mud that has been slung, there is still no proof of fraud.

Yelling ceaselessly that the world is flat doesn’t make it so. And saying you didn’t lose doesn’t make you a winner. Only the voters decide that. Donald Trump needs to accept their verdict.

— The editorial board

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