Greta Gretzinger’s paintings served as stand-ins for Wyoming’s absent congressional delegation at a February town hall meeting in Jackson. (Angus Thuermer / WyoFile)

When I wrote a column only a couple of weeks ago about the presidential election, I thought President Donald Trump’s actions, and the lack of reaction from Wyoming’s elected officials, couldn’t get any worse. Unfortunately, in the intervening weeks, the threats to our democracy and the complicity of our federal and state elected officials has only deepened the crisis.

Let me be clear. Never before in the history of our country has a president refused to accept the result of an election and called for overturning the voice of voters. The hallmark of a democracy is the willingness to accept electoral defeat and be governed by those you did not support at the polls. Unwillingness to accept those norms is anti-democratic, anti-American and authoritarian. So, let’s identify the actions of the president and his supporters for what they are: an attempted coup. That’s what an illegal attempt to seize power is called. 

To repeat, Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Biden garnered 306 Electoral College votes versus Trump’s 232. Americans cast roughly 81.3 million votes for Biden and roughly 74.2 million for Trump, a margin of over 7 million popular votes. Trump currently stands at having gained under 47% of the popular vote, similar to the percentage he garnered in 2016 when he won the Electoral College. 

Recounts in every single contested state have not identified any voter fraud or changed the results. Trump and his supporters have lost every single court case except one (55 losses to date) without proving — or even asserting — voter fraud, many of which were ruled on by judges he appointed. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” Trump fired the Republican head of that agency for that statement.

During a pandemic, this election was one of the smoothest and cleanest in modern history. But that’s not what Trump, his supporters, our federal electeds and, now, even a bunch of Wyoming state legislators, would have you believe. Even though anyone paying attention can easily discern the facts and the truth.

There is no delicate way to say this: If you believe Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez had anything to do with this election (even though he’s been dead since 2013), or food trucks were used to bring in fake ballots, or dead people voted en masse, or voting machines flipped votes, well, you need to do some deep soul searching because you are being played by Trump and his unscrupulous sycophants. 

Now for the dangerous part: Those trying to cling onto power are threatening people of both parties for doing their jobs and actually protecting our democracy.

One of Trump’s attorneys called for the execution of a cyber security official who was appointed by, yes, Trump. A former national security adviser (who was hired, then fired, and ultimately pardoned of crimes by, yes, Trump) and another attorney affiliated with the Trump team called for martial law. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Republican governors in Georgia and Arizona who have been strong Trump supporters and previously praised by Trump have been excoriated for doing their job. Republican election officials in Georgia who admitted voting for Trump have received death threats for doing their job. In addition, his minions on Fox and other networks continue to promote false information and prod their viewers to take seditious action.

Staunch Trump supporter U.S. Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, stated that he had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” For that, he is being castigated as a “Deep State” actor.

Why is this happening? Because the president of the United States refuses to accept the clear results of an election that he lost. Simple truth. He continues to lie and say he won the election, and he promotes fraudulent myths on his Twitter feed. Trump and his supporters are playing with fire. Words do have consequences, and eventually people will act on those words, doing harm to others.

What does our federal delegation have to say about this attack on our democracy? Absolutely nothing, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who made a belated, lukewarm statement that the president must show proof or accept the results. 

What about Sens. Enzi and Barrasso and Sen.-elect Lummis? Their silence is calculating, deafening, dangerous and incredibly cynical. I suspect our delegation is much like Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin — privately acknowledging Trump lost while publicly going along for the ride for political expediency at the risk of our democracy. As analysts point out, the behavior brings back memories of Republican silence in the 1950s during McCarthyism.

And now a large contingent of Wyoming state legislators want to join a lawsuit brought by Texas to throw out millions of votes cast in other states and disenfranchise the additional millions of voters across the entire country who did not vote the way they wanted.

All the while, Wyoming media isn’t doing enough to ask our electeds about these threats and seditious statements. 

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Folks, I’ll say it again. Democracy is tough because it is inevitable that people we don’t support will win elections. It’s never easy to call out public servants, but never in the history of our country has a sitting president been unwilling to accept election results and endangered our democracy by brazenly lying, encouraging domestic discord and, yes, authoritarianism. 

It’s come down to this: Now is the time to stand up and be counted — either for the rule of law and democracy, or for the destruction of our great American experiment in self-governance. Unfortunately, American history will remember the silence and complicity by elected officials who endangered our republic. So, call out Enzi, Barrasso, Lummis and state legislators we must. 

It’s that simple.

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  1. Trump has constantly been accused of spreading lies the past four years and the media has expounded on these rumors, but he has always come out in the end as the one person that was telling the truth from the beginning, maybe if the media was doing their job and actually investigating, Trump would have more time doing what he does best, which is running and standing up for this country and bringing peace where it will be accepted, and he wouldn’t have to be doing the investigating on top of everything else. Do your job media, and quit telling lies.

    1. you statements are delusional and no where near based in reality or honesty.

      the lies perpetuated by trump are plentiful and easy to prove as false and dishonest. please search outside of trump favored media to get some facts.

  2. the misinformation and thug like tactics coupled with the outright lies Trump is responsible for is unforgivable he has polarised the entire country to the point of civil disobedience his lack of leadership and empathy for others is shameful now he basically is trying to position himself into a dictatorship type position the true test of a man is to admit defeat and learn from it but Trump would rather see the entire country go up in flames rather then bow out gracefully there’s a term for his personally its called megalomaniac

  3. I have written our Congressional delegation many times in the past 4 years mostly about the shenanigans of the Trump Administration. Here are the general observations of the replies I have gotten. John Barrasso is pretty prompt and seemingly cordial but I think he calls Mitch McConnell every morning and asks which sock he should put on first. I think he is a lost cause and will never vary from the Trump/Republican line. Mike Enzi is a bit frustrating. He says that he lets Trump speak for himself but his replies don’t have much juice to them otherwise. Liz Cheney doesn’t reply that often but when she does she manages to blame the Democrats for all the world’s woes. At least she is willing to disagree publicly with Trump on occasion which is a lot better than Barrasso or Enzi. It is remarkable how Trump manages to keep all the Republicans corralled in one pen.

    1. only one trainwreck is allowed every 16 years.

      trump would be better off pitching trump university, and trump steaks to all his “well-informed” supporters. But, go ahead and keep donating to his various PAC’s. i’m sure he’ll use your money wisely. /sarcasm

  4. I have been a registered (Independent) voter for 40 years, and I have voted in nearly every local, state, and federal election since 1980. I will remain unaffiliated with any political party because I think their very existence can become a threat to democracy.

    That’s not an original thought. In fact, our Founding Fathers wrestled with this problem. Ultimately, they concluded that a large republic (like ours) could only protect itself with a representative government based on the rule of law. [As a college student, Federalist papers had a big impact on me. These were a series of essays written by our Founding Fathers, explaining our new Constitution and urging its adoption. Federalist #10 addressed the Constitution as a “Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection.” The Founders understood “factions” to be groups of like-minded people working together to deny the rights of other citizens. While the language used more than 200 years ago can be difficult to comprehend, James Madison’s essay is especially relevant today.]

    President Trump, and the others who refuse to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, are a dangerous faction that seeks to disenfranchise the vote of millions of Americans. We need our Congressional delegation to call it like it is and take a stand to end this nonsense.

    Last month, 81 million ballots were cast with Joe Biden’s name vs. 74 million with Donald Trump. Biden won the popular vote, and Trump lost. But that isn’t how we elect a President. Instead, our Founding Fathers specifically created our republic in a manner that empowers each State to define how it participates in Presidential elections. The Electoral College is that system. It is a key mechanism that our Founding Fathers established to strengthen States’ rights, and to limit the very undemocratic effect of factions. “The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States,” said Madison.

    Next week, the Electoral College casts its votes. There will be 306 electoral votes for Biden vs. 232 votes for Trump. All 50 states have now certified those numbers. Biden has won the Electoral College vote, and Trump lost. The 2020 election is, for all intents and purposes, over. Biden won, Trump lost.

    Mr. Trauner’s comments above are spot on. Our Congressional leaders should clearly and immediately recognize that Biden won and Trump lost. Maybe they feel emboldened to let President Trump’s fraudulent claims continue, given the very strong support they receive from the Republican party. Maybe they are too wrapped up in party politics to see reality: Biden won, Trump lost. Maybe they are part of this dangerous faction. I do not know their motive. But I do know their responsibility as our representatives to Congress. They need to help extinguish this flame of insurrection.

    The risk of continued silence from our Congressional delegation is real. This isn’t just about the 2020 Presidential election. What we are seeing play out is much more dangerous to our democracy. Party politics (factions) are openly pressuring “RINOs” to abandon their integrity. Some Republicans go even further by encouraging secession, insurrection, and even civil war. It seems like they will stop at nothing to overturn this election. This is precisely the situation that led our Founding Fathers to recognize the value of the Electoral College, States’ rights, and the rule of law.

    James Madison knew that States’ rights were THE foundation for our republic. After decades of the federal government’s erosion of State authority, one of the last dominions of state rights (voting) is now facing an absolutely devastating attack. I hope our republic stands. I believe the only way America succeeds is if we honor the Constitutional tools the Founders gave us.

    Mr. Trauner is right to pressure our Congressional delegation to be the leaders we elected them to be. They need to represent ALL of Wyoming, not a faction. Even more so, what we need right now is for every American to speak up for our democracy, before party politics destroys it. Our Congressional delegation needs to be leading us down that path, right now.

    1. Mr. Coyne,

      Your point about putting party first is critical. George Washington, in his 1796 farewell address, decried, “…the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection…In governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.”

      Sadly, Party and power seem to be the guiding principles of our delegation and our President. We will be feeling the effects of the President’s repudiation of democracy, and our delegation’s silent assent/complicity, for years to come.


  5. “History will scorn the cowards who meekly complied with Trump’s scheme to tarnish and overturn the election — and honor the many who showed courage and fidelity to the rule of law during this time of trial.” CNN article (12/11/2020)

  6. While some voting rules were changed given the seriousness of pandemic (those found to be changed illegally by a court were overturned) – so changing how voting was allowed doesn’t mean there was fraud. It also doesn’t explain how a state like Arizona, that has had mail in voting since 1992, all the sudden has mass voter fraud. Wyoming has allowed early voting and absentee voting for years – just because more people took advantage of it this year does that mean there was mass fraud and these votes that always counted before all the sudden don’t count now? Trump’s own security officials said this was the most secure election ever and DOJ has found not evidence (albeit “yet”) – so now these are deep state plant? You can’t explain everything with conspiracy theories (because this means you have not other actual evidence).
    While all votes should be cast legally – I don’t think it voting should hard. The only reason you’d want it to make it harder to vote legally is if you wanted to suppress a group of people you don’t think would vote for you. Not very American if you ask me since the constitution talks about the right to vote 5 times and that congress needs to protect the right to vote another 5 times. There’s also that “no undue burden” on the right to vote. Right to bear arms is listed only once – yet it’s a sacred cow that can’t be touched – but Republican’s can trample all over the right to vote and not blink an eye – something our founding fathers obviously took very seriously..

  7. Very swell stated. It is truly alarming that so many are willing to flush our country and its principles out of devotion to a con man. This lawsuit does our country great damage either way. It increases and hardens the divisions, and that will make Biden’s job of trying to set us back on a rational path that much harder. If by some malignant acts the lawsuit did prevail, it would tear the country apart. People will not accept Trump stealing the election he so clearly lost. It is really disheartening that Barrasso, Enzi, and Lummis care so little about our future that they watch in silence.

  8. I believe that Biden will be sworn in as President in January. However, with the new mail in ballot rules that some states enacted, I have no confidence that Biden actually got more legal votes. Maybe he did, but so many irregularities exist that I doubt anyone really knows. And that’s a problem as all Americans should have full confidence in our election process.

    I think that Mr. Trauner’s support for this most recent election is rooted more in who won rather than how it was won, regardless of how he spins it. This mail in ballot thing is ripe for fraud and beset by errors. For instance, my sister, who lives in a mail in ballot state got multiple ballots in the mail. A neighbor here in Wyoming, who used to live in Pennsylvania, got one as well, even though he hasn’t lived there for 6 years. Such things should never happen in an election, but they did in this one and it demonstrates how poorly this was implemented.. If it isn’t fixed, half the country will continually feel the other half cheated them. That is a recipe for eventual revolt and succession. We can do better, but all states need to strictly adhere to election integrity laws. I fear that failure to do so will doom our democracy.

    1. It’s strange how everyone who supports trump seems to know of a friends sisters cousins neighbor that received multiple ballots or ballots in error.

      Some need to realize that all this anecdotal evidence means nothing in a court unless there is facts involved.

  9. My concern is that honest people on both sides will feel your comments are fair, but the truth is that fair would be exactly what our President is trying to complete to save the union.

    1. Mr. Crooks – I appreciate your reply. Just a few points:
      – You state that there are many “irregularities” but yet, where is the proof? There have been hand recounts, machine recounts, county recounts, and over 55 court cases that have been thrown out. Not one judge, Secretary of State or Governor – Republican or Democrat – has found even one instance of verifiable fraud
      – There is no spin – Lawyers representing Trump in court have not alleged fraud because, in court, they can’t just make things up. No results have been changed. Our system of voting has numerous checks and balances – signature matching, registration lists, paper ballots to review against machine totals, etc. Organized fraud on the scale that would be needed to change the results, is, frankly, nearly impossible.
      – My support for the election results are based solely on the candidate that won the most popular and Electoral College votes. I accepted the results in 2016. I accepted the results when I lost by less than 0.%% in 2006 for US House even though there were voting issues. I am not questioning results in Senate or House or other races because people I do not agree with won. Heck, I ran a campaign in 2018 whose motto was “Country over Party”, which didn’t please the national leaders of “my” party, but , you see, that’s not why I was running.

      Mr. Crooks – I recognize that I probably won’t convince you that the election was legitimate. Frankly, that makes me sad.

      I’ll leave you with this. In a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court case hearing, a judge asked Trump’s attorney this question: “Mr. Troupis, I am very interested in knowing about one person in Dane County or one person in Milwaukee County who engaged in election fraud on Nov. 3, 2020.” Mr. Troupis could not point out even one case.


    2. Mr. Snell –

      I like your ALL CAPS reply, although it is a bit lite on substance.

      And as someone who grew up in a household of three boys, my mom always had a couple of pounds of bologna in the fridge for the weekends, so I’ll take you reply as a compliment ;>)