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Candidates always claim that this is the most important election ever. This year Trump claimed it was about stopping anarchy, socialism and communism. Biden claimed it was about reclaiming the nation’s soul and saving our democracy. These claims are exaggerations, intended to whip-up political bases and scare targeted voters.

Candidates stoop to these tactics because they work. Hearing their candidates' dire warning, massive numbers on both sides of the political spectrum voted. Winner and loser alike got more votes than any other presidential candidate. Now, President Trump refuses to accept the will of the people. Claiming a massive conspiracy across multiple states — which is ridiculous.

Biden’s victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are as large and/or larger than were Trump's in 2016. Biden’s victories in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia are statistically insurmountable. Three of these states have Republicans running their elections. And Trump’s own appointees have clearly stated that the election was secure and that there was no fraud. Yet Trump continues to claim that the election was rigged and that he actually won. If that is not scary enough, senior Republicans are refusing to speak up and literally tens of thousands of Trump’s supporters believe he is telling the truth and that their victory is being stolen from them. What does this tell us about who we are as a nation?

For openers it says that the nation made a clear choice between having a normal president versus the vanity, dishonesty, vulgarity and self-indulging incompetence that have been the hallmarks of the Trump Presidency. As a nation, we voted in remarkable numbers for dignity, honesty and the need to at least try to bring Americans together. A very tough task in these challenging times.

But it also shows that our democracy is truly at risk. American’s once believed in our government and its promise. We placed no one person above the law or above the needs of the nation. Sadly, that does not seem to be true today. From the FBI, to our intelligence agencies, to the scientific community, the media, and now our elections process; Trump has worked tirelessly to convince Americans that they are all fake, incompetent and corrupt. So that he can then champion himself as the only person who should be believed and who can save America. And for thousands, if not millions, of Americans that has become the gospel.

The fall of great democracies to authoritarian rule consistently has the same markings. It starts when a leader seeks to divide. To fan the flames of economic, social and racial resentment. To antagonize and demonize outsiders and critics — even critics within their own political ranks. And to embitter their supporters towards the media and government. From his first moments as a candidate, to his closing act as president; Trump has been chiseling away at our institutions and democracy. If thousands of Americans continue to settle for this brand of leadership, the prospects for our nation seem bleak.

Gary Shelton

Prior Lake