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If you thought Trump was the most dangerous threat to our democracy, you were wrong

Did the fringe find Trump? Did Trump find the fringe? Either way, 2021 will be scary.
Image: QAnon
Trump and his supporters have helped normalized fringe conspiracy theories.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

The Electoral College casts its votes Monday, but just days earlier, more than half of House Republicans signed on to a Texas lawsuit asking the Supreme Court for an emergency order to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in four battleground states, despite having zero evidence of voter fraud.

There is a much larger matter at play right now than whether or not Trump’s tactics worked.

The Supreme Court — including all three of President Donald Trump’s appointees — rejected the case. But one wonders whether it would have been more useful for the court to have heard the case, expose the baseless claims for the public to see, and then decided against it.

I’m sure I won’t find many takers on that idea, but there is a much larger matter at play right now than whether or not Trump’s tactics worked. They may not have worked in the actual courts, but that might not matter as much as we want it to. A poll out Dec. 10 indicated that 77 percent of Republicans believe there was fraud in this election. And while most of the talk of fraud comes from Trump himself — he’s the spark — the fuel is all around us. And the momentum is fueled by fringe fiction, not facts.

Months ago, I warned that congressional candidates who hold dangerous fringe views could potentially get elected. And they did. And I thought that was going to be our biggest problem moving forward — candidates whipping up conspiracies to divide voters and get elected.

I failed at the time to recognize that the dangers are far greater. Since Nov. 3, elected members of the GOP and their constituents — not whom you’d ordinarily think of as “fringe groups” — have pushed actual lies, setting their highly selective outrage on anyone not in favor of overturning the election, i.e. the people who voted President-elect Joe Biden in and Trump out.

It’s one thing if Biden’s victory had been like Trump’s — an electoral college win even though more people voted for his opponent. But 7 million more people voted for Biden than for Trump and of more than 50 cases filed, not one court — not a single one — has found a single instance of voter fraud. No multiple voting, no dead people voting. Just people not voting for Trump.

A poll out on Dec. 10 indicated that 77 percent of Republicans believe there was fraud in this election.

To these conspiracy theorists and congressional enablers, it doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence of voter fraud and that count after recount has shown Trump to be the loser each time. The fringe conspiracists want what Trump wants: to subvert democracy. They continue to fight for a president who himself will apparently fight for anything as long as it benefits him.

This behavior is historical. Actually, it’s hysterical. But not in a funny way.

Trump continues to test our norms, the Constitution and our freedoms under his manipulative, fact-free but still substantial weight. He is, after all, still the president of the United States. He empowers these fringe thinkers and they support his every perverted and unjust idea. It’s a dangerous relationship that is damaging our foundations. And the most dangerous part is that this phenomenon goes beyond Trump. He’s helped ignite his base, which we will soon see outlast his presidency.

I don’t know whether the fringe found Trump or Trump found the fringe, but this stuff is real. From the ridiculous but increasingly dangerous #StoptheSteal movement that is encouraging Americans to take the so-called “stolen election” into their own hands, whatever that means, to the consistent undermining of the coronavirus, Trump and his enablers have brought the fringe into the middle of the most important issues this nation faces.