We are a conservative and a centrist who — at various times in our careers — have served in significant federal government roles. From the time of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush through today, we have seen in action how the adherence to the principles of federalism and the separation of powers has served the people of the United States as our Constitution’s framers wisely intended.
But the position of Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., on federal interference in their own state's electoral processes is unfaithful to that tradition; it is neither conservative nor effective. Georgians should demand more of their senators — and so should the people of every state where similar, spurious challenges against their electoral processes are being leveled on behalf of a failed president.
The joint statement of Perdue and Loeffler claiming mismanagement and corruption in their state’s elections reflects both bad temper and bad judgment. Their claim lacks any specificity or description of evidence of actual fraud, and was issued with a malicious, menacing tone befitting dark conspiracy theorists rather than high public officials.
And, since their initial statement, neither has provided any specific evidence of fraud. (On Thursday, Georgia finished a hand recount of ballots in the state showing Joe Biden had indeed won presidential race.)
What the senators' statements suggest is less that the election was tainted than that their re-election prospects are precarious.
Forced to demonstrate any possible sources of election fraud, Perdue’s cousin, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, also made hollow, unsupported assertions of unidentified people voting twice, others engineering votes by or on behalf of those who have died, moved out of state, and yet others voting despite being ineligible convicted felons. He cited no evidence — and, in fact, there may be no such illegal voters — of any such voter fraud or any basis for believing that it could disqualify enough ballots to flip the outcome.
To make matters worse, Sens. Perdue and Loeffler used the opportunity to demonize Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who not only voted to re-elect President Donald Trump, but also to re-elect both of them. “I’d like our side to win,” Raffensperger said in an interview with Atlanta's Fox affiliate Nov. 10, “but then you have to win fair and honestly.”
He added: “I want 100 percent of the people to understand that the process was fair and accurately counted.”
That is how a democracy is supposed to work; anything else, and we might as well live in Russia or China.
As we attempt to reunite a divided country, it is responsible citizens like Raffensperger — persons who honor the rule of law and the oaths they take — who, coming from the right of center, will help achieve that goal.
Perdue and Loeffler, on the other hand, know full well that no material voting fraud issue has been, can be or will be identified that would require significant numbers of votes to be disqualified — including votes for or against themselves. They also know that a ballot-by-ballot manual recount is taking place to ensure that to be true, again without any demonstrable claim of impropriety that would have otherwise necessitated it.
What the senators' statements suggest is less that the election was tainted, than that their re-election prospects are precarious.
Adherence to undemocratic demands tells us not only that the senators realize that their records are too weak to stand on their own, but also what kind of senators they are.
By making their unfounded charges against the people of Georgia, Perdue and Loeffler are seemingly recognizing their critical need for the continuing support of a president who has made — and persists in making — similar unfounded charges against Perdue and Loefflers' constituents. Indeed, reports indicate that Trump demanded that Perdue and Loeffler undermine the credibility of Georgia’s election results and call for Raffensperger’s resignation. Hoping to retain the president’s support during their runoff campaigns, they apparently dutifully complied.
Adherence to these undemocratic demands tells us not only that these senators realize that their records and agendas are too weak to stand on their own, but also what kind of senators they are — and would, if re-elected, continue to be. Rather than exercising the independence that the conservative framers of our Constitution envisioned for senators under the carefully crafted system of checks and balances that underlies our republican form of government, they instead choose to play the roles of parliamentary puppets, tied to the agenda of a clearly defeated president.
That is the fundamental problem that we as Americans and conservatives face — not just in Georgia, but also throughout the country where Trump allies' baseless claims of fraud and the subsequent lawsuits are frankly embarrassing. Their witnesses are unable to offer any supporting factual testimony; judges nominated by or elected from both parties are summarily dismissing these cases. But we are not only getting warrantless challenges to our elections; we also are getting bad government from anything-goes legislators whose tactics show them to be faithless, insubstantial men and women who place personal interest above that of the people.
We are told that Republican members of Congress are lending support to or remaining silent in the face of the president’s ill-founded and illogical charges of election fraud because they do not want to lose the president’s support in the Georgia Senate runoff elections or in the 2022 midterms. However, one need go no further than Georgia to see that, while this tactic might appease the president, it does not serve the American people or the Republican Party's chances to retain its precarious Senate majority this cycle and the next.