As the results of the presidential election became clear earlier this month, I knew that our president would seek to create chaos, but I never imagined that ordinary citizens would save us. I thought that at least some Republican legislators, other than Mitt Romney, would object to these destructive attempts to override voters’ wishes. I wondered if Mitch McConnell would finally defend the Constitution. I hoped that prominent generals would issue a joint statement of condemnation.
Instead, working people did their jobs, starting with postal employees who handled and delivered an unprecedented number of absentee ballots. Despite efforts to hamper their work through the removal of mail-sorting machines and Louis DeJoy’s attempted cost-cutting proposals, the United States Postal Service processed over 122 million ballots this year.
Elections officials at all levels followed the model of postal employees, working long hours on election day and beyond to ensure an accurate count. Moreover, several workers reported not just harassment, but violent threats as well, for doing their jobs. Al Schmidt, the Republican City Commissioner of Philadelphia, said that “his office [was] receiving death threats for counting votes in a democracy.” Poll workers in Michigan and Arizona reported similar intimidation, and in Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that both he and his wife had received death threats. One text read, “You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it.”
Yet despite the long hours, the insults, and the threats, elections officials have resisted intense pressure and begun to certify the results of this election. Republican and Democratic officials both have fulfilled their oaths of office to ensure an accurate count. Indeed, our fellow citizens are thwarting Donald Trump and his lawless attorneys.
Theirs is ordinary courage, in a way, if courage is ever ordinary.
But what about Congressional Republicans and senior White House officials? Where’s their courage? We are fortunate to have honest, hard-working postal workers and election officials who value integrity. Were it equally true in Washington.