Back in February 2021, soon after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president, I wrote a column about how to rig a presidential election. Here is an excerpt:

“If you are inclined to believe that the election was stolen and that Donald Trump really won, try this exercise. Pretend that you were hired by President Joe Biden to rig the election in his favor. How would you accomplish this task?

A presidential election is actually 51 separate elections, one in each state plus the District of Columbia. The good news is that you could focus on six battleground states and their 412 counties. The bad news is that none of these six states runs all-electronic elections which could be hacked; they all have paper ballots, so attempting to corrupt the machines that count the ballots could be easily revealed in a paper recount as occurred in Georgia. This would leave you with the problem of convincing Republicans on county election commissions to falsify their results. Given that they would be acting counter to the interests of their own party and subjecting themselves to future prosecution, it seems to me that it would take sizeable bribes to make this happen. This, of course, would be very difficult to accomplish without leaving a money trail, plus hundreds of people who might later decide to come forward with evidence that would lead to your indictment. Do you really think that this is remotely possible? If you had been hired to get this done, could you possibly have accomplished this task without getting caught?”

I suppose that I thought that many of those who still believed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election would read this and say, “Of course! It would be completely impossible to steal a presidential election.”

There was plenty of other evidence that indicated that there really was no voter fraud. How about 60 cases challenging the election all around the country that were thrown out due to the fact that the plaintiffs were unable to provide actual evidence of fraud? By merely applying a little logic here, nobody could possibly believe that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Why do three-quarters of Republicans continue to believe that Trump really won? The simple answer is that in a cult, logic is not a part of the equation. Once you’ve joined with your heart and soul, all that matters is what the Leader has to say. Authoritarian governments are, in many cases, simply cults of personality from Adolf Hitler to Vladimir Putin. It takes true believers to swallow all of the propaganda and completely ignore the logic and facts.

Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee (2009 -11); speaking recently on Deadline: White House on MSNBC, he summed it up with this statement, “How do you reason people out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into?”

It is clear that rational arguments will have no effect on how most Republicans feel about the 2020 election; what is more concerning is that many Republican leaders who understand the truth about the election are using Trump’s lies as the justification for passing voting laws that will not only suppress minority voting but permit legislatures to overcome legitimate election results.

The recent Jan. 6, anniversary should serve as a reminder of just how close we came to losing our democracy a year ago. Who knows what might have happened had Dan Quayle not given Mike Pence sound advice? We continue to face the end of American democracy and it appears that another American patriot, Rep. Liz Cheney, may be the person who saves us. When she mentioned Federal statute 18 U.S. Code § 1505 — obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees, it was pointedly directed at Donald Trump. She seems to understand that, in order to end a cult, you need to jail its leader.

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Rich Belzer served as director of federal marketing for an NYSE-listed computer company and was subsequently a senior executive with two NASDAQ-listed high-tech companies. He moved to Bend to join Columbia Aircraft, where he became VP of worldwide sales.

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