by Joe Shapiro
George Shultz, who served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Reagan for six years, turned 100 last week. On his birthday Secretary Shultz, now a Distinguished Fellow at Stamford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote a column in the Washington Post entitled, “The 10 most important things I’ve learned about trust over my 100 years.” In it, Shultz pronounced, “Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.”
Shultz wrote this as we Americans are experiencing the lowest level of trust nationally between our political parties, and sometimes within one of our parties, since the Civil War era. And even after the votes in the presidential election were counted, and counted again, the level of trust was so low that the losing candidate, and much of his party, not only rejected that outcome, but declined to criticize abusive and threating statements aimed at the civic officials involved in the vote-counting process, often Republican elected officials.
What happened in Georgia is a prime example. When the votes were all counted, and recounted, Joe Biden bested Donald Trump in the Georgia by 11,779 votes. The vote counting process was overseen by the Georgia Secretary of State, a Republicanelected official named Brad Raffensperger. Yet Raffensperger has been hounded by leading Republicans since reporting that Trump lost the state’s vote count.
On December 15, the day the presidential electors cast their 538 votes for president and vice president, Georgia’s 16 electoral votes were cast for Biden and Harris, the winners in Georgia. Yet even then, our Republican President Donald Trump retweeted a post saying that Raffensperger should be jailed. Jailed for what? For accurately reporting the votes. What could be more detrimental to the trust that former U.S. Secretary of State Shultz wrote about than threatening to jail an official for reporting the votes.
The two incumbent GOP Senators representing Georgia in our nation’s capital, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, barely acted any better. Both called for Raffensperger to resign. Apparently to them, even if counting votes might not be an offense worthy of imprisonment, it’s grounds for demanding resignation. And most of Perdue’s and Loeffler’s Republican colleagues in the United States Senate failed to object to their statements or those of the president.
With a new presidential administration only four weeks away, we have an opportunity to work on re-setting the level of trust among Americans. If we cannot accomplish that, then the lack of regard for such essential norms as vote-counting will persist in Washington, and perhaps manifest itself in Ridgefield. This holiday season, let’s hope that the distrust in the integrity of our presidential vote-counting system that’s been manufactured by the losing candidate and his partisans since the November election isnot replicated here in Ridgefield.
Joe Shapiro is the Chair of the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee.