In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, media and social media were rife with articles, and think pieces about the results. So why was this election different? Perhaps it was because this election was particularly contentious or perhaps it’s because we have entered a new era in which previously unspoken issues became too evident to ignore any longer.
In any case, what’s different this time is that while many people responded by calling on everyone to come together as one nation and put partisan politics aside, others took a very different approach by refusing to accept the results of the election and even questioning its legitimacy.
Why Is Questioning the Legitimacy of an Election Dangerous?
As a democratic republic, the legitimacy of the U.S. government rests on the consent of the governed. As we’ve seen in the past regarding votes for president, not everyone will consent. In this case, some people are refusing to consent because they feel that the election results are illegitimate. Questioning the legitimacy of election results in a number of dangerous effects.
First, it can erode the public’s trust in the government and the democratic process itself. If a large number of citizens don’t believe that the government is legitimate, things start falling apart from within.
Moreover, they may choose not to vote in the next election because they are so convinced that the election results are rigged. Worse yet, they can protest, or become disengaged in other ways. This is dangerous because democracy can only function when the citizens have faith that their government is legitimate and that they have a voice in it. Democracy is based on the idea that the people rule themselves through their representatives and that they choose those representatives through a fair and honest election.
What happens when people refuse to accept the results of an election? When we question the legitimacy of election results, we undermine democracy itself. Instead of respecting the will of the people and the result of a democratic election, others are saying that our votes don’t matter and that the government doesn’t have a legitimate claim to power because they’re not accepting the results.
Recounts Are Risky
Another dangerous effect of questioning the legitimacy of an election result is the potential for recounts. Recounts are a common method of resolving election disputes, but they are often costly and rife with problems. A common point of contention in recounts is the idea of a reasonable difference.
If a candidate is behind by a mere handful of votes and the other candidate has already been declared the winner, it’s reasonable to dispute the results. But if the margin between the candidates is large enough, a recount can be seen as unnecessary and unreasonable.
Even if the recount is appropriate, it’s often not enough to resolve the dispute because recounts are often incomplete and imperfect. If a recount shows that the results were off by a few votes, it doesn’t mean that the election was rigged or fraudulent.
It’s Immature to Contest the Results of a Presidential Election Just Because Trump Didn’t Win
Trump supporters have questioned the legitimacy of the election results and continue to do so. They have claimed that there was widespread voter fraud, which is false.
They have also claimed that millions of people voted illegally, another false claim. These claims are dangerous because by questioning the legitimacy of the election results, these people are sowing doubts in the minds of Americans about the democratic process and our own government.
When We Question Election Results, We Question the Legitimacy of Democracy Itself
When we dispute election results, we imply that the government isn’t legitimate. But we also undermine democracy itself by questioning the validity of the democratic process. Democracy means that the people rule themselves and make decisions for themselves.
When we dispute election results and claim that the government is illegitimate, we take away the voice of the people. When we dispute election results, we also say that democracy doesn’t work.
We say that instead of letting the people rule themselves and make decisions for themselves, we should let a small group of people decide what’s best for everyone while refusing to let the presidency change hands. The continued existence of democracy depends on the idea that the people are capable of making decisions for themselves and running their own.
By having such a disruptive group of people insisting that the election was rigged and that Trump should still be in office, they are damaging a way of life that goes back to 1776. Many Trump supporters have been rejecting the results of the election since 2020 and some are still refusing to accept defeat.
While the whole country was divided over the presidential election, extreme Trump supporters failed to do what everyone else has done since these elections began, to let go. Every time a new president is elected, one half of the country is contented and the other is antagonized. The difference here is that they aren’t letting go this time.
The idea is to let it go and wait until next term to cast your vote again. From a historical perspective, when someone remains in power illegitimately, the very framework of liberty crumbles. Refusing to surrender the reins of power to a legitimately elected successor can lead to a dark path to dictatorship.
Looking Ahead, We Must Remain Vigilant to Keep the Fires of Liberty Alive
Whether they know it or not, the Trump supporters that still refuse to accept the results of President Biden’s election are threatening to extinguish the flame of liberty itself.
The fact that a mass of people stormed the United States capitol and actively engaged in such a rebellious outburst should be very concerning for proponents of liberty everywhere. Many Americans felt that the January 6th riots threatened democracy.
If we are to keep the flame of liberty alive, we must safeguard the sanctity of the election results and support President Biden as the legitimate winner, chosen by the people. In honoring the results of the election, democracy can go on. Contesting the results would only lead to confusion and tyranny.