Gary Horton | We Must Reclaim Our Reputation as a Democracy

Gary Horton

Recently, I read a letter to the editor in a major national news outlet.  

It read: 

“The democratic country of Germany set a wonderful example of a peaceful change of leadership with its election. It’s a shame the United States made such a mess of ours.” 


On Nov. 20, and again on Jan. 6, we in no way, “Made America Great Again.” Rather, we humiliated our democracy to all the world, to allies and enemies, alike. 

Today, a full third of America remains 100% fully convinced, without actual evidence, that Trump’s lost election was somehow “stolen” by a somehow coordinated plot of election overthrowers coordinated throughout America.  

That the 2020 election was somehow “stolen” by a well-coordinated conspiracy of thousands of evil-doers is a non-fact. It is fiction. Seventy-plus failed court cases and dozens of recounts confirming election results are facts.  

The events culminating in the Jan. 6 riot and trashing of the Capitol happened at most at Donald Trump’s manipulation, and at least, at his inaction to stop it. Video and photos document it, and criminal convictions underscore it. 

Following facts and accepting both wins and losses in a democracy is required for viability, validity and durability of our system of government. 

Yet, a large wing of the Republican Party ignores this and has fallen in with Trump conspiracy theories of rigged voting machines, vote dumps and illegal voters. This is terribly damaging to our nation on our shores and throughout the world. This large Republican cohort of conspiracy promoters damage American prestige with every false claim and every violent action. Even now, the world is flooded with democracy-destroying disinformation daily.  

Trump, who factually lost his election by the same margins Hillary Clinton lost hers, did not go away quietly and responsibly. Instead, he’s manipulated his party into a personality cult of anti-truth, coverups and fixers. And, on Jan. 6, Trump’s anti-truth manipulation came to a head as our Capitol was trashed on live TV – shocking not for Americans, but jolting the entire world. 

Our allies’ faith in the stability of American democracy has resultingly wavered. Our enemies danced and rejoiced at the bedlam that became America’s new example to the world. Our beacon of democracy dimmed worldwide. Trump made America a permanently less trusted ally; its democratic traditions teetering on the precipice of collapse to authoritarianism. 

Many Trump supporters profess godliness and Christian faithfulness while simultaneously placing their faith in an obviously godless Trump. They favor quoting biblical scripture, justifying their suspension of disbelief in the obvious. To use their playbook, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:24). 

What they ARE doing is damaging America’s long-term international influence and power as they discredit our elections and plot to distort the next with election protocol mischief. 

Like it or not, Joseph Biden is America’s duly elected president, and when he speaks here at home or overseas, he represents the full authority of the United States. But now, Allies are today worried that in three short years this normal American president might be replaced by a Trump (or other) presidency based more on Hungary’s authoritarian, neo-dictator János Áder. 

They are right to be worried. Should America fall the way of other newly corrupted authoritarian states, who then shall hold high the torch of thriving democracy? As my letter writer wrote, “We made a mess of ours.” 

The E.U. has its eyes wide open. Trump, always hostile to NATO, shook Europe’s faith in America to new lows on Jan. 6. His behavior since has only worsened matters, Biden’s best efforts to restore international trust notwithstanding. 

That Germany, the once-Nazi plague of the world, should now set better democratic examples than its victor is alarming! That tiny and newly minted democratic Estonia should hold nearly instantaneous, completely verified electronic elections with zero dispute, should shame us. 

Thankfully, in America, we’re all still afforded complete freedom of faith. You can believe in Jesus, Buddha, in Muhammad, in science — and even in Trump. And apparently, one-third of Americans believe in Trump more than facts of a valid democratic election. 

Theirs is a constitutionally given right of faith. But unlike the other faiths, this one is severely trashing America’s example and good will all the world over. Their Trump religion – and their works, a la Jan. 6 – have hacked away at our free world leadership hard-earned by 500,000 Americans dead in World War II, and countless more in conflicts since. And this, at the worst possible time as China and Russia assert increasing influence. 

This is the dark cost of faith in Trump. Like faith in Jim Jones, or David Koresh, or Joseph Stalin, or Mae Zedong, the personality cult of Trump leads to destruction of people and freedom. 

That Trump associates refuse to testify and tell truth to Congress is telling. From the start of Trump’s campaign to congressional inquiries today, Trump and his associates have refused facts to see the light of day. Such truth-hiding should normally arouse suspicion. 

The Trump faithful might consider one other scripture: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). 

Remember those Trump tax returns you were promised to see any day now? Just that one act of darkness alone, remaining to this day, should be fact enough to awaken the souls of the deceived who themselves unknowingly damage America itself. 

For the sake of America and our international standing, we must end this assault on democracy and facts, and instead, air out and accept where truth leads. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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