Despite any evidence having emerged after a year of counts, recounts, audits, and endless second-guessing both with and without a clue that the 2020 presidential election was not legitimately won by Joe Biden, as readers know a large percentage of Republican Party rank-and-file have now accepted this falsehood as truth–and will most likely go to their graves believing that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat has significantly destabilized American politics going into the 2022 midterm elections, with some 21 million Americans according to polls ready to dump our nation’s democratic experiment entirely and restore Trump to the White House by force.
Here in Colorado, Trump loyalist Republicans have faced a major obstacle in the form of Republican county clerks who have, with a glaring exception, pushed back as hard as they felt safe on the stolen election narrative, knowing from their own experience that Trump’s unhinged conspiracy theories had no factual basis. But with a majority of Republican base voters convinced to an article of faith that the election was stolen, Republicans who argue against this dominant narrative are called “Republicans in Name Only” or worse. In Mesa County, where technologically clueless Clerk Tina Peters allowed only slightly less clueless conspiracy theorists to breach security in a fruitless attempt to confirm their own biases, even lifelong conservative Republicans not on board with the stolen election narrative are on the receiving end of increasingly violent threats.
So it should come as no surprise, as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, that threats against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold have escalated to alarming levels:
“I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP,” one person wrote in an online message. “I SEE YOU SLEEPING. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.”
“I hope you die.”
The vitriol has reached the point that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is asking state lawmakers for help. The office is seeking a new annual appropriation of about $200,000 to “address election-related security concerns” stemming from the threats, many of which originated with people who believe baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Griswold’s profile has risen in recent months as she has appeared on national television to lambaste GOP efforts to question the nation’s voting systems and the 2020 presidential election results. She’s also been at the center of a feud with Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican who has spread baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election being stolen and who is under federal, state and local criminal investigation for her alleged role in a breach of her county’s election system.
Because Colorado leads the nation with our accessible and secure election system, utilizing basically every innovation that Trump baselessly cited as evidence the election was stolen, Secretary of State Griswold’s high profile has been absolutely necessary in order to combat the avalanche of misinformation initiated by Trump’s campaign to sow doubt in the 2020 elections. Griswold has been forced to correct Trump’s misinformation repeatedly precisely because Colorado is the model: a mail ballot state which has successfully carried out numerous elections on Dominion Voting Systems hardware. Our success disproves the “Big Lie” more powerfully and succinctly than anything else can.
There’s nothing coming to upend this debate on the side of the conspiracy theorists. From the fruitless legal battle to the Arizona “audit” that widened Biden’s margin of victory and including the breach of security in Mesa County that exposed only the ignorance of the perpetrators, this question is resolved for everyone still receptive to factual information. Faced with this crushing reality, unfortunately, it appears that the percentage of the GOP who wants violence to restore Trump to office only want it more.
In this volatile environment, the idea that we would not provide the state’s top election official every bit as much protection as Gov. Jared Polis himself receives is what sounds crazy. These are not only threats to Jena Griswold but to our entire democratic process. If you’re a Republican who does not want to be associated with threats of violence from fellow Republicans, it’s past time to speak out.