Editorial: Votes have been counted. Now deal with the COVID-19 pandemic

Last week, with the votes fully counted by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, the victors in the local state Assembly and Senate races held a press conference.

Anthony Palumbo, who left his Assembly post to run for the Senate seat long held by Ken LaValle, said the victory was one of the best days in his life. 

He had good reason to feel that way: Mr. Palumbo, a Republican from New Suffolk, came out ahead of his Democratic opponent in a presidential election year when record numbers of voters braved a pandemic to sweep Donald Trump out of office.

What we saw locally was the normal process of an American election: A vote is held, votes are counted, absentee ballots are tallied and the results certified. The winner is proclaimed, the loser concedes. 

That has been the Constitutional process in this republic since the 1789 election, when George Washington received more electoral college votes than John Adams, who then became vice president.

In our papers this you will see interviews with critical players at both Peconic Bay Medical Center and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital who are very much on the front lines of the surging COVID-19 pandemic. They are dealing with broken hearts and distraught families all the while trying to provide the best health care possible under the most difficult circumstances. 

We point your attention to these interviews to highlight the extraordinary health crisis this country is in, as the number of COVID deaths heads toward 300,000.

This surge is happening even as Mr. Trump continues his efforts to overturn the results of the election he lost decisively to Mr. Biden. Forget the pandemic, ignore the death toll and suffering, avoid showing an ounce of empathy. His nonstop listing of his personal grievances is all he is talking about.

His followers even suggested declaring martial law to overturn the results, and last week protesters — armed, of course — gathered in front of the Michigan secretary of state’s home shouting obscenities and moronic conspiracy theories while she was inside with her 4-year-old son watching a Christmas movie. This happened in America.

In Georgia, GOP officials — who voted for Trump — say poll workers have received death threats because they did their jobs and honestly counted the ballots, which showed Mr. Biden won the state. These officials have all but begged Mr. Trump to back off.

The president even asked the Republican governor of the state to intervene on his behalf and appoint new electors who would choose Mr. Trump as the winner. In any other country, that would be called a coup.

Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the Constitution, the rule of law and the basic narrative of American history is minimal at best. With disputed votes now counted, recounted and then recounted a third time showing that Mr. Biden won, the president clearly has a major problem with the truth and the integrity of American democracy. 

Somewhere around 50 court cases brought by the president’s attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, have been thrown out — many by Trump-appointed judges — all while COVID-19 cases have surged.

Mr. Trump’s inner circle has not been spared from the virus. His fellow Republican Herman Cain died in July of the coronavirus after attending a Trump rally; the president and family members have tested positive; and last week Mr. Giuliani checked into a hospital after traveling the country trying to overturn votes and then testing positive. In the wake of that development, the entire Arizona State Legislature, in front of which he had testified, went into quarantine.

While this fire burns, so continues the effort to nullify American democracy and the 2020 vote and somehow, like in a banana republic, simply declare Trump the winner. 

Standing up for the country over party politics is certainly not a strong conviction among Congressional Republicans, as only 27 GOP representatives told The Washington Post that Biden won the election. The rest, including our own representative, Lee Zeldin, didn’t respond to the question as to who won. A spokesperson for Mr. Zeldin told us, “The election results are still being contested by the President. That process didn’t end on November 3rd and is still ongoing.”

On Friday, 126 House Republicans took a step that is extraordinarily anti-Democratic and anti-American: they signed a friend of the court brief joining a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General (who is under federal investigation in a securities case) to nullify the votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — all states won by Mr. Biden. Mr. Zeldin was among those diehard Trump supporters who signed on.

Mr. Zeldin has shown his devotion to the president in many different ways in the past four years, but this one goes well beyond ordinary fealty. Here we have one state trying to throw out the legal votes in four other states and thus “overturn” — in the language of the president — the vote for Mr. Biden. This is a disgrace. Nothing even close to this has happened in our country’s history.

Later on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily dismissed the suit. The court that Trump hoped would be his ace in the hole rejected his blatant attempt to steal an election. That 126 members of congress went along with this shows their contempt for our democracy. Not one member of the Senate went along with this; several GOP senators denounced it.

Mr. Zeldin has now shown conclusively that he is on the wrong side of history. The actions of the 126 Republicans are right up there with the racist birther conspiracy pushed by people, including Trump, against former president Barack Obama, and the conspiratorial mess pushed by the president’s lawyers that a vast international conspiracy – including George Soros and the very dead Hugo Chavez – pulled it off for Mr. Biden.

All this while Americans are dying in record numbers. On Dec. 9, more than 3,000 Americans died — more than died on D-Day and 9/11. On Dec. 7, 1941, 2,407 Americans died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 1 this year, 2,473 Americans died of COVID-19. Dec. 5 recorded 2,461 deaths, with 1,347 on Dec. 7.

History is a wheel that just keeps turning. It’s a uniquely American horror story that the country doesn’t have leaders willing to go all out to deal with the crisis we now find ourselves in and instead continue their full-out assault on our Constitution and the legally-cast votes of millions of Americans.