Republicans saved democracy in 2020


Published August 4, 2023

The Washington Post

Special counsel Jack Smith’s latest indictment of former president Donald Trump serves as a reminder that Trump strenuously tried to overturn the 2020 election. It also reveals who saved American democracy: Republicans.

That’s not the reigning narrative. Former vice president Mike Pence has received some credit for his courage in resisting Trump’s entreaties, but not nearly enough. The same is true of Republican leaders at every level of government who put country over party.

Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes sufficient to overturn his state’s results — and pressured Gov. Brian Kemp to try to replace the state’s electors. These two officials investigated allegations of voter fraud and found them all without merit. They remained staunchly supportive of Georgia’s election outcome, earning Trump’s unending enmity. They also endured serious primary challenges from Trump-endorsed opponents and personal threats. That they took on those challenges head-on is praiseworthy; that they prevailed politically in last year’s primaries is a stunning personal rebuke to the former president.

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He was the Thomas W. Smith distinguished scholar in residence at Arizona State University for the winter/spring 2023 semester.


Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

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