Our U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber was correct, of course, that President Donald Trump was “within his right” to pursue legal challenges to the election outcome, as the congressman said in the News Tribune last week.
But Stauber was wrong to betray the wishes of tens of thousands of his constituents who voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden for president, many of whom also voted for him, by refusing to acknowledge the outcome of the election — even after Attorney General William Barr, a fellow Republican, verified there was no evidence of fraud that would change the result. Stauber’s refusal to acknowledge reality dragged on even weeks after the ballot count was completed and certified.
The congressman was then even more wrong late last week when he signed on to a lawsuit in Texas that was so frivolous, so baseless, and so lacking in evidence that it was almost instantly tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court. And it was a suit seeking to overturn the election result, no less (the presidential one; apparently Stauber’s reelection was OK). It was a dangerous challenge to our very democracy, casting doubt about our elections, even though they’ve proven themselves reliable over hundreds of years.
It hasn’t been particularly surprising or unexpected to see President Trump offering legal challenges to a result he doesn’t like. He repeatedly referred to the 2016 election as “rigged” against him, too — until he won. And burying the courts and his rivals with frivolous legal actions has been a hallmark of Trump’s business career. This time isn’t business, though; the opponent this time, the American people, won’t just be worn down or outspent.
This time, we’re talking simple math: the counting of ballots. Even recounts carried out at the demand of Trump and the GOP but paid for by taxpayers have only upheld and reaffirmed a Biden victory and Trump defeat.
The Electoral College vote should put an end to this circus of conspiracy theories and false claims. But it almost certainly won’t for Trump.
As Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker reported in an op-ed in the News Tribune over the weekend, Trump is “said to be plotting a dramatic exit,” including a rally in Florida at the same time as Biden’s inauguration in D.C.
Also over the weekend, Americans got a glimpse of the lengths some Trump supporters are willing to go in their protest. The far-right nationalist group Proud Boys attacked historically Black churches in Washington, D.C., and clashed with bystanders, leading to injuries, according to numerous news reports.
Yes, similar unrest occurred this summer at Black Lives Matter protests. Illegal incidents then were as wrong as unlawful acts are now.
And also yes, Democrats four years ago vehemently refused to accept Trump as president. But there was a difference: Their candidate, Hillary Clinton, conceded once the result was clear, allowing healing to begin for many and the peaceful transition of power that has marked our democracy for many generations. Until now.
Our Congressman Stauber has a leading role to play in where our nation goes from here. Disappointingly, between Nov. 3 and this past weekend, he has chosen to stir uncertainty, despite overwhelming certainty, and he has embraced extremist views that hadn’t been an apparent part of his career, political or otherwise, until now. By adding his name to the Texas lawsuit, Stauber picked partisanship over the will of the people and the good of our nation.
He showed he “was not committed to democracy,” as the Orlando Sentinel wrote Friday of its Republican Congressman Michael Waltz, who also signed on to the suit and who had been endorsed by the newspaper. Similarly, Forum Communications, which owns the News Tribune, endorsed Stauber this fall. That doesn’t mean the News Tribune can’t or won’t criticize the congressman when warranted.
His partisan acts now are in stunning contrast to his record of working across the aisle for the good of Northeastern Minnesota, including his membership in the Problem Solvers Caucus. Its 50 congressional members, an even number Republican and Democrat, set aside party affiliation in the name of serving all.
For the sake of our nation, this election needs to be over. For the good of MInnesota’s 8th Congressional District, Stauber needs to actively help make that happen and be a positive part of what comes next. His record and words suggested we could expect that from him, that we could have expected better than partisan protests.
As Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, City Councilor Arik Forsman, and St. Louis County Commissioners Patrick Boyle and Frank Jewell said in a letter over the weekend to Stauber, a former professional hockey player: “When the horn blows at the end of the third period, you stop skating and shake hands. We are still waiting for the President and you to do this for our nation.”