IN THE days after President Trump lost his bid for reelection, congressional Republicans argued for patience as he denied the results. Allowing Mr. Trump to exhaust his legal challenges would promote faith in the outcome, they said. Giving the president time to process his defeat would encourage a smooth transition.

Five weeks on, Mr. Trump has instead entrenched the lie that the election was stolen, with polls showing that many GOP voters believe him. Worse: Mr. Trump has progressed from lying about the result to adopting the tactics of a tinpot authoritarian, trying to overturn a free and fair election by pressuring and corrupting voting officials.

It is beyond our understanding how Republicans who claim to believe in democracy, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), can remain silent. The president is incinerating belief in American democracy, and almost the entire leadership of the Republican Party is complicit.

Post Senior Producer Kate Woodsome talks to Americans who voted for Trump, or simply don't feel like denouncing him, about why they feel wrongly scorned. (The Washington Post)

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) on Monday recertified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in his state, following three separate counts. Enough states have certified their votes to give Mr. Biden an electoral college majority. Mr. Trump’s evidence-free lawsuits have been thrown out of court, and the legislative hearings his lawyers staged were so absurd they literally drew laughs.

Yet Mr. Trump spent the weekend ranting that “you can’t ever accept when they steal and rig and lie” to chants, at a Georgia rally, of “Stop the steal!” The president called Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.), pressuring him to convene a special session of the Georgia legislature to award the state’s electors to Mr. Trump. Twice in the past week he called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, looking for similar help, The Post reported Monday evening.

The speaker responded that the legislature could not legally overturn the results of the election. Mr. Kemp also refused, saying that doing otherwise would be illegal. It is telling that Mr. Kemp did not point out that overturning the people’s choice also would be morally repugnant. Even so, Mr. Kemp’s refusal to advance Mr. Trump’s illegal scheme took more backbone than most national Republicans have displayed.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) backed Mr. Trump in a Sunday debate, selling out democracy in an attempt to keep the GOP base riled for her runoff election next month. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who is also running in next month’s runoff, has joined Ms. Loeffler in attacking Georgia state officials who have refused to aid Mr. Trump in upending the vote. A Post survey of every Republican member of Congress found only 27 who were willing to admit that Mr. Biden won the election. Two actually said Mr. Trump won. The remaining 220 mostly avoided responding.

“The future will take care of itself,” Mr. McConnell said last week, avoiding reporters’ questions about Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud. His complacency and that of so many others as the president seeks to discredit a national election discredits them and threatens grave damage to the government’s legitimacy. It also increases the likelihood that a future would-be authoritarian will more successfully abuse cracks in the system, now that they are so visible.

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