“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” That proverb has never been true, but we now see that name calling and conspiracy theories have the potential to destroy a democracy. All human interactions and institutions are founded in trust established when individuals agree to follow established rules and processes to change the rules that, as in science, are based on facts and evidence as opposed to rumor and desire.
What happens when we are allowed to create our own alternative facts? Such as when a little boy repeats baseless claims: “The election was a hoax; they stole the election; or it was rigged by a corrupt deep state.” When a little boy makes such false claims based on his wishes, fears and fantasy, we rely on adults to step in and explain that what he wishes and fears are not the same as what in fact has happened.
In the absence of adult intervention, rumors continue, another child posts the statement on the internet, and specious claims quickly become alternative facts that can readily be explained by a conspiracy. Such repetition and conspiracy destroys trust, and the institutions that require it.
Where are the Republican adults that we need to step in and say, “President Trump, I am sorry, but you lost the election. With no evidence of irregularities that would alter the outcome, we must accept the conclusion that the election was fair and well done. Moreover, we must come together to support President-elect Biden in making our country move forward and prosper. We may not agree with all of his agenda, but we must work to create the best path forward.”
Sen. Steve Daines, Rep.-elect Matt Rosendale, and Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte be real patriots and accept the outcomes of our democratic process that put all of you, as well as our new President Joe Biden, in office. Consider for a moment how you would feel if the attorney general of New York filed suit against the legitimacy of our election in Montana.
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