Sometime in 2005, I was attending a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser at St. Christopher’s church. Since it was a well-attended event it was not surprising to see politicians campaigning casually among the attendees given it was also an election year. Among them was Mike Luther, the Democratic candidate, and eventual mayor. Also, there was Rosemary Agostini who was competing with Luther to take over for Mimi Letts who was not running for re-election.
I remember striking up a conversation with Mrs. Agostini who – like a good politician – asked me if I would consider voting for her. While I was very new to politics and unfortunately hadn’t paid much attention to local issues at the time, I did realize what was important to me in regard to political ideals and good government. But more so than anything I noted to her “I really don’t think I could vote for the party of George W. Bush”. This was about two years after the invasion of Iraq, a military action I supported because at the outset even though I was somewhat skeptical, I could not conceive of the US Government lying about weapons of mass destruction. I trusted the likes of Colin Powell. I supported the current President who I didn’t vote for, and I believed it all the way to the point when our forces made it to the Northern Iraqi city of Tikrit. Then my blinders quickly came off. It was all a Big Lie.
I wonder these days if there are any former supporters of our previous President that have come to the same realization. All politicians on both sides stretch the truth. But rarely has there been such an onslaught of the falsehood of the likes that came from our previous President. And the worst lie of all is the one that’s still being perpetuated to this day – the one that has become the loyalty test of leadership in this political party: that the election of 2020 was stolen and fraudulent.
In a recent poll, 78% of Republican voters think the election was stolen. Trump associates attempted to challenge results and were basically laughed out of court about 60 times. Trump-appointed justices shot down their claims – even at the Supreme Court twice. Lawyers who brought the challenges screamed about corruption in public while offering no proof of their claims when in the presence of a judge. As a result, nine lawyers associated with the challenges are now on the defensive against ethics complaints in Michigan while they bizarrely disavow court filings with their own names on them. News outlets that gave these claims any credence are scrambling to disavow the same claims as they are being subjected to lawsuits by companies whose names were raked through the mud because of their technical support of the election. Rudy Giuliani who once fought off organized crime and headed up the country’s largest city at its most dire hour, earning the nickname “America’s Mayor”, who then became the chief architect of Trump’s Big Lie, has had his law license suspended in NY state. The former President was caught on tape begging GOP election officials in Georgia who refused to “find” 11,000+ votes to tip the election his way. He is now under investigation by Georgia authorities for trying to influence the election. The Arizona “audit” has also come up basically empty in the dogged search for fraud. And yet the lie still persists like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.
Do things like this matter at the local level where we spend most of our time thinking of how our schools are run, whether the garbage is picked up on time, and whether someone is using our tax dollars wastefully?
I think so. I really do.
And that’s why I said as much to Mrs. Agostini. She felt that you vote for the person – not the party. But if the party itself is perpetuating such a heinous “Big Lie” how do you take seriously those who would run under that banner? Would they disavow dangerous lies that threaten our democracy and incite an insurrection, or pretend that national politics is all just a big harmless show? Do they think what happened at the Capitol on January 6th was all just a big harmless show?
Do GOP voters in Morris County think our elections are conducted fairly? I mean Ann Grossi is a Republican but so was Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of the State of Georgia who Trump alternatively begged and threatened to turn the election for him.
What are we to think of people running for elected office like Senator Pennachio, Trump’s NJ campaign chair who fervently embraced the former President’s misinformation about COVID-19. Does he also think the 2020 election was stolen? Can we trust someone so untethered from reality to represent us in Trenton? The same question could be asked of Jay Webber and Christian Baranco if they dared to buck party orthodoxy to stand up for basic reality like Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger. Are they completely at peace with the nonsense that’s peddled? Can we trust people who would turn a blind eye to a Big Lie like this? Locally in Parsippany, we have the likes of Justin Musella running for council who himself spoke at a Trump rally last year saying “A future where the Democrats win has never been scarier and if they win it will not be ‘mostly peaceful.’ “ Was this a prediction about January 6th? If so – it was very prescient of this young man.
We now live in a world where we will either defend democracy and the system that preserves it (the same system that allowed Trump to take his grievances to court and still turned him away for lack of evidence) or decide to toss the whole idea of self-rule in the trash because we just don’t like the result. As an American – I’ll stick with the principles we fought so hard for centuries to preserve rather than worship a wannabe egotistical autocrat who wants to destroy it. And I’ll be voting for those that adhere to what’s real – and have the courage to call out lies.