Washington (CNN)Donald Trump isn’t moving on. Neither is his party.
More than six months after his defeat, Trump continues to declare that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him. And this lie, sometimes called “the Big Lie,” continues to have a major impact on American politics.
The lie would matter, as a matter of principle, even if it wasn’t having much of a practical effect. But it matters even more when it is fueling a national Republican push to make elections laws more restrictive, playing a significant role in who wins GOP nominations and leadership positions, motivating a partisan push to “audit” the 2020 results, causing another partisan fight in Congress, aiding the QAnon conspiracy movement, and affecting public perceptions of the current president.
Here are nine ways the Big Lie continues to reverberate.
Fuel for restrictive voting laws
Perhaps the most consequential result of Trump’s lies about what happened in 2020 is the slew of 2021 efforts by Republican state legislators to make it more difficult to vote.
Among other things, Republican proposals would reduce the availability of ballot drop boxes, shorten early voting periods and absentee voting periods, make it harder for voters to obtain mail-in ballots, increase voter identification requirements, prohibit 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, eliminate Election Day voter registration, limit who is allowed to return someone else’s absentee ballot and more aggressively purge voter rolls.
In many cases, it’s not clear whether Republican legislators actually believe the 2020 election was fraudulent or whether they are cynically using voters’ own misapprehensions about the election as political cover. The distinction is irrelevant in practice, since the lies are turning into suppressive bills no matter what the real reason is.
A career problem for Republicans who stood for truth
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who stood firm against election lies, now faces a primary challenger who has Trump’s powerful endorsement: Congressman Jody Hice, who began his campaign by uttering election lies (and last week made a misleading claim about the Capitol riot on January 6). And Raffensperger has already had some of his power stripped by the Republican governor and state legislature.
Another Georgia Republican who stood up for facts about what happened in 2020, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, announced this week that he would not seek reelection. Like Raffensperger, Duncan has made Republican enemies by declining to humor Trump’s nonsense.
It isn’t just Georgia officials on the hot seat for speaking truth. Nevada’s Republican Party Central Committee voted in April to censure Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for refusing to investigate (baseless allegations of) election fraud and being too “dismissive” of (baseless) concerns about “election integrity.”
A rationale for a crackdown on elections officials
Republicans have not only targeted particular state elections chiefs. Lies about how particular counties conducted the 2020 election have provided a rationale for a broad Republican effort to restrict local elections officials.
A new Georgia law gives a state board the power to appoint
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