Opinion: Certify election results to preserve democracy
The strength of our democracy is in its institutions and in its traditions. Unlike other countries, it is the people who decide who is elected, not politicians. This is a luxury enshrined in our Constitution that not everyone enjoys and that many have sworn to uphold and defend.
President Donald Trump’s attempts to influence the electoral processes in Michigan, and elsewhere, is cause for both concern and alarm, and should be roundly rejected by both Democrats and Republicans alike. By attempting to use the trappings of the Oval Office to influence state officials, he is violating norms of behavior and setting a dangerous precedent for the future — not just here, but internationally. American democracy must be about more than one person or one party, and right now the president should honor the office by acting accordingly.
The president is certainly within his rights to contest results where he believes there may have been inaccuracies or impropriety, and there are legal mechanisms for doing so. These efforts are unlikely to deliver the results he believes they will. His victory in 2016 was much closer than his loss in 2020, and both votes were held fairly and with bipartisan observation. It is well past time that the president accepts that he lost and begin the peaceful and orderly transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
The reality for Trump is that he lost the election, and not just in Michigan. The 2020 election was perhaps the mostly closely watched in history.
That we were able to hold an election in the middle of a global pandemic is something worth celebrating — not even COVID-19 was able to disrupt our holding elections. Here, state and local officials should be receiving much deserved applause for organizing and conducting the vote, enabling our democracy, upholding the law and counting every ballot. These same state and local officials now need to carry out their duties and certify the people’s decision.
Voters decide elections. Not politicians. It sets an exceptionally dangerous precedent for any sitting president to attempt to influence state officials by using — abusing, really — the power, appearance and influence of the Oval Office to attempt to affect state officials’ decisions and actions. No party should tolerate such behavior.
This is no longer about politics or the election. This is about our country’s national security. Delays in the transition risk our country’s national security by preventing the incoming administration from adequately preparing for office, understanding the threats the nation faces, and from building an appropriate team. This is not an idle fear — the 9/11 Commission found that the delay resulting from the Bush-Gore dispute in Florida likely hampered the incoming administration’s preparation time.
Every day that the transition is delayed is a day lost preparing for the countless threats our country faces. I served on Trump’s transition team and we needed every day, every hour and every minute we had to develop plans and find the right people to confront the laundry list of challenges the president and his team were to encounter on entering office.
The longer the president delays the transition the less time President-Elect Biden will have to form his team, prepare for the challenges and enter office on day one ready to confront the myriad challenges the country faces from adversaries and disease alike. The reality is our government needs to be just as prepared on Jan. 19 as it is on Jan. 21.
Our democracy must be and is about more than one man (or woman), and more than one party. The strength of our democracy lies in its institutions, its tradition, and the people that enable both. If we allow democracy to become less about those values and more about one person, we lose what our Founders set out in the Constitution and endanger what so many in uniform fought and died to defend.
Barring any evidence to the contrary, the election was held freely, fairly and openly, with bipartisan observation, and the election results should be certified today.
Mike Rogers represented Michigan's 8th District in the House of Representatives from 2001-14 as a Republican.