Reviews | We need a plan to prevent the Holocaust deniers from winning

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Rational people may differ on whether the Justice Department can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defeated former President Donald Trump and his key enablers committed crimes in their 2021 coup attempt. What is indisputable is that Trump lost the election, had no evidence of fraud, betrayed our democracy by trying to overturn the election results, and unleashed a violent assault on the Capitol.

Still, more than 100 Republican Holocaust deniers, according to a Post analysis, will be on the ballot in November. The question now is what we as a country should do about it.

As a preliminary, no one should doubt that election deniers should be kept out of public office. Republicans who continue to fan the “big lie” of a stolen election are either morons or liars, and therefore pose a threat to two essential elements of democracy: the sanctity of elections and the peaceful transfer of power. They are unable to uphold the oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies and should be disqualified.

We know that many incumbent House and Senate Republicans who have tried to throw out valid electoral votes and continue to fan the “big lie” will be re-elected. The degraded state of our democracy is such that voters will keep these characters in power. But an open-court press to limit the number of such office holders and to defeat Holocaust deniers who come forward at the state level to Secretary of State, Attorney General and Governor is essential to preventing a repeat of Trump’s coup attempt in 2024 and beyond. “No Holocaust denier is running the election” sounds like a simple enough message.

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At this time, there does not appear to be a coherent plan to achieve this fundamental objective. Hoping that the craziest candidates in these contests for election-related positions will lose is not a viable plan; it’s a recipe for disaster. (Didn’t millions make that mistake in 2016?) Instead of wishful thinking, the media, Democrats, independents, sane Republicans, donors and retired public servants all have a role to play in upholding the sanctity of elections.

First, the media has an obligation to identify Holocaust deniers who run for these critical roles, confront their lies, and refuse to treat them like ordinary politicians. No responsible editorial board should endorse election deniers for positions responsible for elections.

Second, Democrats, since President Biden, must focus their fire on election deniers and persuade voters that no political issue warrants putting these people in power. Biden will have to deliver more than one speech; he will have to campaign from coast to coast to convince voters that it is essential not to put (or keep) in power people who would deny Trump’s betrayal and encourage insurrection as a political tool.

Democrats should urge independents and democracy-loving Republicans to vote against Holocaust deniers, especially those who would administer the election. Candidates running against such candidates should do everything possible to reach out to those who would normally vote Republican and make it clear that they will listen to their views, represent their interests, and protect democracy on their behalf.

Third, responsible Republican politicians (looking at you, Senator Mitt Romney), retired politicians (that’s you, former President George W. Bush), sober Republican donors, and former GOP officials ( Now is your chance to win redemption, former Attorney General William P. Barr) must use their influence to defeat Holocaust deniers. They won’t reach hardcore MAGA voters, but they may influence ordinary Republican voters or Republican-leaning voters.

In an ideal world, this type of unified campaign would be organized against Holocaust deniers who stand for everything offices, including for the House and Senate, but given the sheer number of candidates who pose a threat to the country, democracy advocates would do well to focus on those running for positions with the power to certify elections. The most immediate concern should be to protect the country from future coups.

Is it too much to hope that a broad coalition across parties can commit to defeating candidates who have made it clear that they do not respect the truth or the elections? If so, our democracy is on life support.

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