Carroll County Times Opinion

Tom Zirpoli: Hard to discuss policy with Republicans when they don’t support democracy | COMMENTARY

To my Republican friends who are crying that political discussion has been closed off to them by Democrats who demonize their politics, may I suggest you look at where your GOP is today and ask yourselves what there is to discuss?

After all, the hot discussion is not about how to effectively invest in the future of our nation’s infrastructure. The hot topic today is the very survival of our nation’s democracy.


Or, have you not been paying attention?

The leader of your Grand Old Party still denies he lost the presidential election in 2020. The real problem, however, is that a majority of his fellow Republicans, contrary to all facts and investigations, agree with him. It appears election results no longer matter to a majority of Republicans, unless they win. If they lose, the election is automatically considered fraudulent or unfair. For Republicans, concession speeches are no longer a symbol of American democracy but a sign of weakness.


Apparently, this anti-democracy theme now favored by a majority of Republicans will carry over into the November midterm elections. According to Reid Epstein, writing for The New York Times, discussing a survey conducted by The Washington Post, “six Trump-backed Republican nominees for governor and the Senate in midterm battleground would not commit to accepting this year’s election results, and another six Republicans ignored or declined to answer a question about embracing the November outcome. All of them, along with many other G.O.P. candidates, have preemptively cast doubt on how their states count votes.”

Donald Trump recently gave us an example of how Republicans view election outcomes: After Dan Cox, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for governor of Maryland, won the Republican nomination, the former president tweeted, “Congratulations to Dan Cox. NBC Fake News called the race, but in this case the reporting wasn’t fake [for a change!].”

See how that works? The “reporting wasn’t fake” because his guy won.

Another example is Sarah Palin, former GOP candidate for vice president and former Republican governor of Alaska, who lost a primary election because, she said, that the ranked-choice voting in Alaska was a “cockamamie system” and that there could have been voter fraud. I wonder if Palin would be so doubtful about the election system if she had won?

Apparently, many Republicans no longer believe in American democracy. If you are a Republican and offended by this observation, please advise the rest of us on how else to interpret what we are seeing these days.

I had to chuckle the other day while listening to a Republican congressman voicing his concerns about President Joe Biden’s age. I had a difficult time taking this guy’s concerns seriously while he and his GOP so easily cast aside the actions of their own old guy, who encouraged an insurrection inside our nation’s Capitol, where police, who were literally protecting the American democratic process and peaceful transfer of presidential power, were killed and injured.

See the difference? Most of us would rather have the old guy who still believes in democracy vs. the other old guy who wants to be king.

Unfortunately, the MAGA folks are not just a small minority voice within the GOP. As previously stated, polls report that a majority of Republicans still don’t accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. This, by the way, is why many Republican candidates don’t want to publicly accept election outcomes. They don’t want to upset their base, or Trump, by admitting to facts.


In fact, facts – about infections, vaccinations, climate change, elections, and so on – no longer seem to apply to Republicans. How do you debate policy when one side denies basic facts?

If Republicans refuse to re-commit themselves to the fundamental values of our American democracy, don’t expect me or other Democrats to take your comments about policy seriously. Some values are simply not up to debate and our American democracy is one of them.

Also, don’t get upset when we call Republicans un-American if they refuse to commit to these fundamental values. If you are upset with this comment, don’t blame me; look into the mirror and fix your party. You can start by speaking up when someone in your GOP makes an un-American statement mocking election outcomes or calling for violence against volunteers at voting stations. Your silence on these issues speaks volumes.

If you can’t fix your GOP – and you seemingly can’t – leave it in protest and join Democrats or independents in our efforts to save our nation from tyranny. As imperfect as they are, Democrats are currently defending American democracy. Republicans are trying to destroy it by limiting opportunities to vote, by refusing to respect the outcome of elections, by protesting the peaceful transfer of presidential power, by the continued support of a former president who believes he is above the law and wants to be king, by banning books and free speech in our classrooms, and so on.

All the available evidence tells me that Republicans no long believe in democracy and majority rule. Thus, until you are able to address the elephant in the room, please excuse me if I don’t get too excited about the rate of inflation.

Some things are just more important.


Tom Zirpoli is the Laurence J. Adams Distinguished Chair in Special Education at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at