George Pyle: Utah Republicans should see that winning an election is not cheating

Whatever possessed my high school civics teacher to tell the whole class that I had earned a perfect score on the midterm exam, I’ll never know. Maybe it was an attempt to shame the kid sitting behind me.

“That’s not fair,” the other student said, apparently in serious indignation. “He studied.”

And if by “studied,” he meant that I more or less paid attention in class and opened the textbook, well, yes, I guess I studied. But it wasn’t any extraordinary effort. And I certainly never thought that studying wasn’t fair. That it was a form of cheating.

I guess that guy was a Republican. Or, more specifically, a supporter of the soon-to-be-former president of the United States.

The election is over. Joe Biden won. By a lot. All of the challenges, lawsuits and recounts so far have served only to make that point more clearly, with the Democrat’s margins of victory holding steady, if not growing, everywhere one looks.

Yet such worthies as Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Chris Stewart and Rep.-elect Burgess Owens — half of what will be Utah’s congressional delegation — have continued to back the president’s claims of skullduggery and miscounts, in the face of zero evidence and a collapsing hill on which to stand.

The other day, Stewart doubled down on his conspiracy-mongering by charging, with no evidence whatsoever, that the runoff elections for Georgia’s two contested seats in the U.S. Senate were the target of Democratic cheating. He pledged financial support for the two Republicans in those races and implored others to join him.

Control of the Senate will come down to which candidates emerge from those elections. So, if by “cheating,” Stewart means that Democrats are working really hard and raising lots of money, well, of course they are. So are Republicans.

It seems that Stewart and others could base their appeal on those indisputable facts rather than roll out more malarkey accusing the other party of being not just a rival but also an enemy of the people.

The anger and false accusations being tossed around in the Georgia runoffs are more than silly. Tuesday, a Georgia election manager named Gabriel Sterling — who is, like that state’s governor and the secretary of state, a Republican — made a justifiably angry statement calling on the president and his supporters to stand down with their anti-democratic campaign of lies.

Government officials and voting system contractors have received death threats in retaliation for having dared to tell the truth about how the state’s election was free and fair.

“Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed,” Sterling said.

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” Sterling added. “Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up.”

As far as stepping up for democracy, Utah’s other senator, Mitt Romney, was not only among the first to congratulate the real president-elect, he also has gone out of his way to debunk the false charges made by the president and his remaining allies.

Gov. Gary Herbert, Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Rep. John Curtis are, likewise, living in the real world and eager to move on. The other new member of Utah’s all-Republican delegation, 1st District Rep.-elect Blake Moore, has, as befits a freshman who ran on a more conciliatory platform, kept a low profile on the question of who won the White House.

Nationally, the list of those recognizing the reality of a President Biden includes Wyoming Rep. Mary Cheney, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

And the editors of William F. Buckley’s old platform, National Review, were blunt in their assessment: “Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged has withstood the slightest scrutiny. In particular, it’s hard to find much that is remotely true in the president’s Twitter feed these days. It is full of already-debunked claims and crackpot conspiracy theories.”

Our county needs a healthy Republican Party — or something that is what that party used to be — not just to to represent a small-government, low-tax view, but also to keep the other party honest.

The fact that the president’s reelection effort was so soundly thumped even as other Republican candidates were successful up and down the ballot, gaining seats in the House and standing very near victory in the Senate, shows that the Republican Party retains widespread support across the nation.

Party leaders worthy of the name will move quickly to build on and broaden that support. To do so, they must abandon, once and for all, the loser who sits momentarily at the top of their ticket.

If they don’t, they are not just overly partisan. They are not just wrong. They are dangerous.

George Pyle

George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, has done well for himself for a long time by reading one chapter ahead.


Twitter, @debatestate