The refusal by top GOP politicians — including West Virginia’s top Republican officials — to acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect is ridiculous. And yes, we are talking about Gov. Jim Justice, Rep. David McKinley, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and even Secretary of State Mac Warner. We are two weeks past the day Biden was declared the victor, and our top Republicans are actively supporting — or at least not denying — President Trump’s delusional claim he won the election.
Some point to Al Gore’s refusal to concede to George Bush until well into December 2000 in order to defend Trump’s continuing delay tactics. But here’s one major difference: Bush v. Gore was a matter of a few hundred votes in one contested state. The difference between Donald Trump’s and Biden’s numbers are well into the thousands (and multiple secretaries of state have said recounts never change totals by more than a few hundred votes) and there is not one, single state that this election hangs on, the way the 2000 election hung on Florida. Biden’s electoral lead is too high — more than 70 electoral votes — and his popular vote lead surpasses 8 million.
When Republicans refuse to acknowledge Biden as president-elect, they give legitimacy to Trump’s accusations of voter fraud and election rigging. When they don’t speak out, Trump’s attempts to undermine our democracy go unchallenged by the only people who can rein him in: Members of the party he supposedly represents.
We can’t figure out why these sycophants are still trying to curry favor with a president who will be gone in January. If they had any real love for our nation, for the states they represent, they would encourage Trump to concede. Or at the very least to let Biden into the briefings and allow his transition team to get started. (A nod to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who finally called for Biden to receive briefings.) Trump’s obstinacy could severely damage the next phase of the pandemic response. If Trump’s current administration and Biden’s transition team don’t cooperate, then the vaccine distribution we so fervently hope for this spring could crash and burn.
We’re sure Trump would love to do anything that would make Biden look bad, but we are talking about human lives hanging in the balance. The longer we go without a comprehensive coronavirus-fighting plan and a coordinated vaccine distribution, the more people we will lose to COVID-19. This is no longer a matter of politics or party loyalty — this is a matter of life and death.
West Virginia is perhaps the most Trump-friendly state in the union, and many of our elected officials are friends and supporters of Trump, which means their words have more weight. Justice, Capito, McKinley, Morrisey and Warner should encourage Trump to accept the results of the election and to stop leveraging frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to undermine our democracy. If they won’t urge him to concede, then they should at least use their influence to convince Trump and his administration to open briefings to Biden and release funds for Biden’s transition team. Put political posturing aside and do what’s best for the American people.