Republican Kari Lake is teaming with Donald Trump in trying to play voters as he did in 2020.
During the campaign, the press prematurely anointed Lake the rising star of the MAGA world. That was before she lost her Arizona Governor race by nearly 16,000 votes, some 5,500 more than Trump’s losing margin in 2020.
Now she’s repackaging the snake oil of his election denialism that voters broadly repudiated in last week’s election. In a two-minute video released on November 17, she falsely claimed that “tens of thousands” of Maricopa County citizens were “disenfranchised.”
Jen Easterly, the federal government’s election security chief announced after last week’s elections that the agency “ha[d] seen no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was any way compromised in any race in the country.” The same was true in 2020, much as Trump keeps repeating his tired old storyline.
An essential feature of democracy is the willingness of candidates who lose to accept their defeat. That’s what always happened in our stable democracy before Trump began trying to unmoor it.
Virtually all of Trump’s hand-picked and defeated candidates this year other than Lake have now abandoned his 2020 playbook. Most recently, even Lake’s hardcore Arizona ticket mate, MAGA Senate candidate Blake Masters conceded his loss.
Lake, however, is still acting like a laptop that runs on repeat the operating system from Trump’s 2020 four-step manual:
Step 1. Before that election, he laid the groundwork for post-election denialism, refusing to say that he’d accept the election results if he lost.
In 2022, Lake, when asked if she’d concede if she lost, did the same by dancing the Arizona side-step: “I’m going to win and I’m going to accept that result.”
Step 2. On election night in 2020, Trump claimed victory. Likewise Lake. On election night, she was substantially behind and told her audience not to believe the “cheaters and criminals.”
Step 3. On November 4, 2020, the day after the election, Trump raised doubts about the vote counting, falsely saying it had stopped in battleground states.
On November 11, 2022, three days after the election and while the Arizona count was underway, Lake called it “embarrassing,” likening the process to that of a “banana republic.”
Step Four: Like Trump in 2020, she refuses to concede. Kari’s tethered to the tune of the pied piper of prevarication.
There’s danger when demagogues amp up their supporters with claims that their vote and their freedom are being taken away. In 2020, January 6 was the result.
This year, Trump and Lake are feeding us the same violence-fomenting rhetoric. On November 13, rightist protestors showed up at the Maricopa County elections office calling law enforcement “evil traitors” and blaring out through bull horns, “You deprive people and citizens of their natural unalienable right. How are you gonna keep the peace?”
Underlying Lake’s shameful behavior is the same self-serving motivation at the core of Trump’s script: “Who cares about serving the people, protecting trust in our elections or keeping the peace when you can serve yourself?”
So what’s a citizen who desires to live in the fact-based world to do?
First, tune out the noise from Trump and Lake. It’s the prattle of MAGA’s election losers. Once we recognize the four-step playbook for what it is, it can’t play us.
Second, have faith in courts. They require evidence. Eventually, if Lake files a lawsuit, courts will reject any fact-free election-denial claims, just as 60 courts did with Trump’s baseless lawsuits in 2020.
Third, support the work of this Congress before it is replaced in January. Congress can reform the Electoral Count Act and enact other legislation with bipartisan support, such as the Respect for Marriage Act and “Daniel’s Law,” a bill that both sides of the aisle have lauded to protect the private information of judges.
Citizens should let Congress know that they want the debt ceiling completely eliminated so that the incoming MAGA Republican House can’t wreak havoc on our economic lives by refusing to raise it.
There’s work to be done now and before 2024 to keep the American experiment in freedom and democracy going. Trump and Lake, like other authoritarians, want citizens to distrust our democracy and put full faith and credit in them.
They can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and they sure didn’t fool the American majority this time. It takes the right stuff—courage and commitment—to stand up for truth and democracy. At the polls last week, Arizonans, like voters across the country showed they get it. We won’t be played by the prattle of Trump and Lake.