Barron: Remember, Remember for Future Novembers


Republican Headquarters in Salt Lake City on Wednesday October 3rd, 2018 (Photo by: The Daily Utah Chronicle).

By Morgan Barron, Opinion Writer


Donald Trump filed for re-election the day of his inauguration, which kicked off an unprecedented and tiring four-year bid for the White House. With the last 8 months of this exhaustive election centered on COVID-19, it is unsurprising that 68% of Americans have described the 2020 election as a significant source of stress in their lives — an increase of 14 percentage points from 2016. In the name of self-care, it may be tempting to compartmentalize the details of this election once results are finalized, but we’ll never be able to hold our elected officials accountable if we forget their actions the moment we enter the next news cycle.

Less than a month before Election Day, Utah Sen. Mike Lee tweeted, “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity [sic] are. […] Rank democracy can thwart that.” Hearing an elected official dismiss the importance of democracy in our political system should scare every American, but this statement is even more chilling as Lee is the co-chair of Trump’s re-election campaign in Utah.

Unsurprisingly, undermining democracy was a key tactic of this campaign. Prior to Election Day, Republican entities were engaged in 40 different lawsuits from Wisconsin to Texas in a brazen effort to suppress votes and prevent Democratic victories. These lawsuits have multiplied since election night as the Trump campaign has shifted their focus to disqualifying ballots in close races in key states. Lee’s unflinching support for Trump over our democracy is the ultimate failure of “country before party.”

Despite the overwhelming need for financial relief due to COVID-19, Congress failed to pass another stimulus package. Instead, Senate Republicans spent the last month confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — cementing a conservative majority on the bench. Her confirmation would have been nearly impossible without the support of Utah’s senators, both of whom prioritized this partisan nomination over providing COVID relief to millions of Americans. Lee, who opposed then-President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee because a “contentious presidential election” was underway, supported a quick confirmation to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg weeks before Election Day.

As a member of the judiciary committee, Lee’s support was key to jumpstarting Barrett’s confirmation, however, it was Senator Mitt Romney’s support that paved the way for Barrett’s appointment to the court. After confirming Barrett, the Senate recessed until Nov. 9 even though five million Americans are expected to exhaust their unemployment benefits by December. Falling in line with their party, Romney and Lee failed to prioritize the wellbeing of Americans and their families over installing another conservative Justice on the Supreme Court.

Both Lee and Romney have called for every vote to be counted in the 2020 presidential election, and they have pushed back against Trump’s recent assertions of electoral victory and widespread voter fraud. While it is important for Republicans to call out the president’s authoritarian behavior, we should not celebrate elected officials doing the absolute bare minimum.

Everyone knew Trump would not respect the outcome of the election if he lost, after all, he has spent his presidency undermining our country’s democratic norms and refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Still, Lee held rallies on Trump’s behalf, and Romney — a relatively vocal critic of Trump — failed to endorse Joe Biden. Their action now is too little and too late.

Lee and Romney are not up for re-election until 2023 and 2025, respectively, but this fact should not prevent Utahns from holding them accountable for their actions during this election cycle. Choosing to forget their recent actions is, in essence, forgiveness. For future Novembers, remember Lee’s attacks on democracy and how our senators abandoned COVID relief for a partisan win. Then, vote them out.


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