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Our View: Election deniers threaten democracy

When we think of cringy things our dads do, who could top what it must have been like for Ivanka Trump? She stood near her father while his inner circle repeatedly told the former president he clearly lost the 2020 election. What would it feel like for Ivanka to hear Donald Trump lean on election officials, refute results and shakedown Americans for cash for his Official Election Defense Fund?

Stepping outside the ranks of dutiful daughter, Ivanka pleaded with Trump to do something – anything – as rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. And her dad did absolutely nothing.

Even Ivanka knows when enough is enough. She said as much when she testified that she accepted then-Attorney General William P. Barr’s conclusion that her father lost the election.

On Father’s Day, we imagined a few scenarios playing out at Mar-a-Lago. Was the Trump family hunkered over the televised House Select Committee hearings? Did they retreat to their respective wings? Or sink into cushy beach lounge chairs, hiding their embarrassment behind sunglasses?

At one time, some of us pondered whether Trump actually believed the election was fraudulent. After his men threw him under the bus, we learned that Trump boldly – knowingly – lied from the start. This changes everything.

Trump will hang onto power at any cost. What’s striking is his allies are open to working for him again. Barr has even said he’d vote for Trump in 2024. Unreal.

Even if they don’t believe Trump, his men have tasted punch-drunk dominance. Trump is the sun and they are the lesser planets, orbiting around him. His men undermine democracy by engaging him.

If it couldn’t get any weirder, enter the election deniers on primary ballots. They continue to grasp onto something that’s not there.

Consider election denier Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters running for Colorado secretary of state, reaching for the levers as top-dog election official. (The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction made an exception to “endorse against the following: running with scissors, drinking Drano and voting for Tina Peters.”)

Questions for election-denier candidates: Are you running to do real work or obstruct it? If you don’t believe in the democratic process, why are you stepping into the mix of it? If election deniers recite the false script, they’re saying the norms and rules that hold our society together don’t matter.

Apparently, our beliefs about election fraud depend on the media we consume, especially for Republicans. Public Religion Research Institute’s poll results in September 2021 show: “Those who trust broadcast news look much more like the rest of the country. Fox News and far-right news Republicans drive the trend.”

PRRI found that among Americans who most trust Fox News or other far-right news sources, 76% believe the election was stolen. By contrast, of those who most trust other sources, 21% believe this.

Also, among those who trust Fox News or other far-right sources, only 12% say Trump gets much blame for the Jan. 6 riot. And 64% blame liberal or left-wing activists, such as Antifa.

The Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent argues that those views taken together, “add up to something truly toxic: The ‘belief’ that the election was stolen, and the simultaneous refusal to assign accountability for an effort to violently overthrow our constitutional order, suggest right-wing propaganda may be softening the ground for a more concerted abandonment of democracy going forward.”

This threatens democracy at its core.

Besides Peters, the election-denier club in Colorado primaries includes Ron Hanks, a challenger for the U.S. Senate seat, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, who have both questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Deniers are out to make certain Coloradans never again trust election results. It’s time to speak up and stop the hysterics. Even if the original lie came from your very own dad.