PRESIDENT TRUMP’S Sunday Fox News rant ranks as one of the most dangerous of his presidency, and that is saying something. Mr. Trump issued claim after incoherent claim about vote rigging — machines switched thousands of votes, dead people voted, mail-in ballots were “phony,” poll watchers “weren’t allowed.” The United States just conducted probably the most secure, transparent presidential vote in its history; Mr. Trump calls it “the most messed-up election we have ever seen.” Proving there is no core national institution he will not besmirch, Mr. Trump attacked the judicial system for failing to ratify his lies and suggested that the Justice Department and the FBI are in on the conspiracy.
Either the president is delusional, or he is willing to knowingly tear down the democracy to deny that he is a loser. Either way, everyone else in a position of trust has a responsibility to defend the nation’s democratic system against Mr. Trump’s sustained assault. Some Republicans, mostly at the state and local levels, have done so, at times under extreme public scrutiny, counting the votes and refusing to manipulate the electoral process to overturn the popular will. For conscientiously overseeing the vote in his state — and standing up for its integrity against baseless attacks from Mr. Trump and the state’s two U.S. senators — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his family have received threats. He and other election officials have had to accept security details.
“It’s time to stand up and be counted,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob? You wanted to condemn the wild mob when it’s on the left side. What are you going to do when it’s on our side?”
The response of most national Republican “leaders” has been to sit on the sidelines, or worse. Three weeks after the major networks called the race for President-elect Joe Biden, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) refused Sunday to refer to Mr. Biden as president-elect, arguing that the label is not “significant.” He managed to admit that the election was not “rigged,” but he also claimed that “there may have been ballots that shouldn’t have been cast” in Georgia and that “there were some things that were done that shouldn’t have been done. And I think there was some element of voter fraud.”
The label matters, and so does GOP senators’ endorsement of the fiction that fraud and irregularities are a substantial problem. Should Mr. Trump persuade millions of Americans that the voting system is corrupt, he could inaugurate an era of dangerous instability; a future candidate in a closer election might succeed in overturning a fair vote by exploiting the doubts and leveraging the fear that the president has instilled.
For weeks, Republicans dodged by saying Mr. Trump was entitled to make his case in court. Well, he has had his chance. He has failed. Judges, including those appointed by Mr. Trump, have made clear the election was not stolen. The dodge has run its course.
“I think the democratic process is strong and can certainly survive this discussion,” Mr. Blunt said. That would be true if he and others would stand tall and refute Mr. Trump’s toxic lies. As long as they allow the poison to circulate, they are abetting the weakening of that democratic process.