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Analysis

Trump’s Big Lie Led to Insurrection

The myth of voter fraud will also lead to massive voter suppression across America. We need to stop it.

January 12, 2021
capitol riot
Probal Rashid/Getty

We always knew that the myth of voter fraud was danger­ous. Now we know: it’s deadly.

Like you, I watched in horror last week as a white suprem­acist mob moun­ted a viol­ent insur­rec­tion against the seat of govern­ment to disrupt the count­ing of the people’s votes. Direc­ted by Donald Trump, they desec­rated the Capitol, waving Confed­er­ate flags and killing a police officer. We’re lucky the result wasn’t worse.

This was, quite liter­ally, an attack on our demo­cracy.

Some are call­ing for unity — but those calls cannot be heard until there is account­ab­il­ity. There must be consequences for those who are culp­able, not just those who stormed the Capitol. Many bear direct respons­ib­il­ity for the blood­shed. The white nation­al­ist mob that assaul­ted the Capitol and desec­rated its halls. Trump, of course, who egged them on. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and their Repub­lican enablers. There is wide and grow­ing public support to punish those respons­ible.

But let’s never forget: those who commit­ted last week’s attack were motiv­ated by the same lie the Bren­nan Center has been fight­ing for years — that votes by Black and brown people and equal access to the ballot, amount to stolen elec­tions. This was the lie that drove Trump’s fruit­less attempts to over­turn a free and fair elec­tion and erase the votes of millions. It’s the Big Lie.

It is this same lie that will lead to massive voter suppres­sion across Amer­ica for the next ten years if it is not stamped out. I talked about this with NBC News and my colleague Wendy Weiser discussed it with CNN.

Make no mistake: going forward, those who spew lies about the vote stand with the Proud Boys, not our demo­cracy.

How do we fight an attack on demo­cracy? We build the vibrant, multiracial demo­cracy that most Amer­ic­ans want. We enact auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, stop racist voter suppres­sion, end partisan gerry­man­der­ing, and adopt small donor public finan­cing, so that all voices are heard. We also shore up the protect­ive guard­rails — includ­ing ending self-pardons and curb­ing politi­ciz­a­tion of law enforce­ment — so this can never, ever happen again. The For the People Act (H.R. 1), the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act are good places to start. 

Wednes­day was one of the darkest days in the history of our repub­lic. But in the end, our insti­tu­tions held. Congress recon­vened, and they confirmed Joe Biden as our 46th pres­id­ent and Kamala Harris as vice pres­id­ent. Amer­ican demo­cracy is resi­li­ent — and now, we have an oppor­tun­ity to repair and revital­ize it. The stakes could not be higher. Let’s right these wrongs and make the next four years a period of account­ab­il­ity and long over­due reform.