It is fitting that at his final rally in Georgia as president, Donald Trump offered perhaps his most corrupt display yet, openly calling on Republicans to nullify his election loss — and explicitly attacking officials for following the law and upholding democracy — in numerous ways.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces one of two Georgia runoffs on Tuesday, dutifully answered Trump’s call. Appearing with him on Monday night, she vowed to object to Joe Biden’s electors in Congress, carrying forward Trump’s effort to overturn the votes in numerous states.

The question now is whether there will be any electoral penalty for this appallingly corrupt effort to subvert democracy and nullify the will of millions of American voters. If not, it will have been validated as just another tool for political mobilization.

At the rally, Trump falsely claimed he had won the state of Georgia. Trump vowed to support primary challenges to Georgia officials who did their official duty and certified his loss. Trump threatened to keep fighting to overturn the results.

Trump attacked the Supreme Court for refusing to hear the Texas lawsuit that tried to invalidate voting in four states. And Trump called on Vice President Pence to somehow use his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral vote count in Congress to deliver him a win.

In one way or another, Loeffler — along with David Perdue, whose Senate term expired Sunday and who’s also facing a runoff — has actively validated and supported just about all of these efforts and sentiments.

Georgia senators are in on the con

Loeffler and Perdue continue to refuse to say Trump lost Georgia. They demanded that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resign for attesting to the integrity of the election — the election in their own state.

Incredibly, after it emerged that Trump vaguely threatened Raffensperger to get him to “find” nearly 12,000 votes, even though Raffensperger explicitly told him this would overturn the legitimate outcome, Perdue attacked Raffensperger for leaking the audio.

The real sin, you see, wasn’t Trump’s potentially criminal effort to fraudulently overturn the election. It was the act of bringing that effort to light. Meanwhile, Loeffler and Perdue supported the Texas lawsuit — even though it sought to invalidate the votes of their own state’s residents.

Now Loeffler has pledged to join dozens of other Republicans in objecting to Biden’s electors. At the rally, Loeffler shouted: “I have an announcement, Georgia. On Jan. 6, I will object to the electoral college vote. That’s right. We’re going to get this done!”

Loeffler is lying in the faces of her voters. They are not going to “get this done.” The objection to Biden electors will be voted down by the Democratic House, and even by the GOP-controlled Senate, when some Republican senators join Democrats.

The electoral college votes will be counted. Pence will not do anything to stop it. Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20th.

But this lie — that the fight to keep Trump in power is still alive — is necessary to boost turnout among the Trump base. Indeed, in a key tell, Loeffler pivoted from this false promise to calling on voters to show up on Tuesday, yelling: “Are you ready to show America that Georgia’s still a red state?”

In other words, all this is necessary to create the deceptive impression that Trump’s electoral fate is still unsettled, keeping their voters engaged. Telling Georgia Republicans the truth — that Trump lost; that it’s over — will depress energy and turnout.

No more euphemisms

The true nature of all this continues to be shrouded in euphemism. We’re told that Republican leaders are just helping Trump come to terms with his loss; that the fact that Trump voters “really believe” the election was stolen from him has trapped them in a difficult situation; that GOP lawmakers are mere “cowards” who would stand up for the integrity of our election if only they didn’t fear Trump’s angry tweets.

In reality, Republican lawmakers are actively manipulating Trump voters in an extraordinarily cynical manner, deliberately feeding their state of delusion about Trump’s loss and his prospects for overturning it for their own crassly instrumental purposes.

This manipulation is doubly self-serving. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has defended his plan to object to Biden electors by claiming his constituents “do not believe” the election was fair, and piously insisting he’s doing his “duty” by allowing their objections to be heard. This, even though the election’s fairness has already been litigated and upheld in dozens of court cases.

As Julian Sanchez and Yuval Levin have pointed out in different ways, all this amounts to not just feeding voters’ delusions, but also using that to reverse justify continued efforts to do the same. That’s a staggering show of contempt for the voters themselves.

As always, simply telling Trump/GOP voters the truth is not viewed as an option. After all, it might depress turnout.

Because Georgia is a red state, Loeffler and Perdue could very well win this way. If so, it will validate all of this as just another mobilizing tool. The long-term ramifications of that are unpleasant to contemplate.

Of course, there’s always the chance that all this could further galvanize turnout on the Democratic side, enabling challengers the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to win.

If they do, it would show there’s a cost to this kind of depraved, contemptuous manipulation, possibly making it less likely that Republicans will rely on it as a tool in the future. Let’s hope so.

Read more: