It’s easy to gleefully chuckle each time one of Trump’s election-challenging lawsuits (I’m tempted to put that word in quotes) is tossed out of court, often with a scathing opinion, but it’s important to look at why they keep getting so resoundingly rejected. Just because they lacked any semblance of legal substance does not mean some of them might have had some success. Sycophants are everywhere, including some in election administration, so why not in the judicial system? Why did these particular people, many Trump-appointed conservatives, stand up to pressure while so many Republican lawmakers both now and since Trump’s election cow-tow to his bullying?
The answer is a simple and old-fashioned but universal tenant: people take their jobs seriously and are proud of doing them well. One can even argue that the sycophants’ behavior supports this theory because they consider it their job to please Trump and want to do that well.
Contrary to Trump’s expectations, conservative judges have struck down dozens of his “elite strike force” of legal clowns’ pathetic lawsuits because they take their jobs seriously. Regardless of how they might feel about the election, they are sworn to the rule of law and that comes first. What General Milley said about the military applies here as well:
We are unique among armies, we are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or queen, or tyrant or dictator, we do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe or a religion.
We take an oath to the Constitution, and every soldier that is represented in this museum—every sailor, airman, marine, coastguard—each of us protects and defends that document, regardless of personal price.
Republican election officials, even in the face of death threats to themselves and their families, have certified results and stood up to Trump’s pressure because they take their jobs seriously. Probably the best example of this is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Make no mistake, Mr. Raffensperger is no hero. He is a fan of voter suppression laws, essentially advocating that it is easier to steal an election before the voting than after. That being said, he followed the existing law and he took pride in overseeing a successful Georgia election. He took offense as Trump and his cronies claimed that there was rampant fraud in his election. Another Georgia election official, Gabriel Sterling, emotionally tore into Trump and others he declared complicit for not speaking out, when describing the threats he and his team have experienced. Even a man who might have stolen an election by purging hundreds of thousands of people from the voter rolls prior to the election he was both supervising and running in (Stacey Abrams lost by 55,000 votes), Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has not crossed a line in spite of tremendous pressure from Trump.
None of this was because any of these Republicans love Joe Biden or the Democrats. They are not secret liberals. In fact, there was little personal or political upside to their actions. Beyond the threats, elected officials are likely to be brutalized by Trump’s supporters the next time they run for office. The Trump team simply made a mistake when they made it personal. When they attacked their competence. No one wants to be called incompetent and tends to dig in when they are personally attacked.
What’s ironic is that Trump actually knows this. One of his signature campaign promises is to create more jobs. He knows people often define themselves by being able to bring home a paycheck. He knows that people are just as proud of a long hard day in a coal mine as they are in earning millions of dollars on Wall Street. Regardless, a bully is a blunt instrument. Trump can only attack and damn the consequences.
Of course, there is another explanation for his post-election circus. Perhaps he realized months ago he wasn’t going to win the election. Perhaps he never expected to prevail in court or via other coercive measures. After all, he has raised over $200M since the election (as of this writing), misleading his followers into thinking they are supporting his bid to overturn the election while the vast majority of the money went to pay off campaign debts, the RNC, and his political action committee and no doubt from there to line his and his children’s pockets. After all his years of greed and corruption, he has stumbled into the easiest and most lucrative grift of all – milking those with blind faith for all they’re worth.