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BUCKS COUNTY – November 25, 2020– The following statement is attributable to Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) in response to the Senate Republican Policy Committee Hearing on November 25, 2020:

“Today, Pennsylvania Senate Republicans will hold a hearing into allegations of voter fraud in this year’s election.  One witness at the hearing will be Rudolph Giuliani.  There is word that the outgoing president, Donald Trump, might also participate.

Two weeks ago, I called on Pennsylvania Republicans, including my colleagues in the State Senate, to repudiate unfounded claims of voter fraud and improprieties that were designed solely to delegitimize this year’s presidential election.  Donald Trump and those closest to him made these claims despite the fact that officials here and in other states had proclaimed this one of the most secure and well-executed elections in our nation’s history.  At the time, I described these attacks as part of a ‘big lie’ that undermined our democracy and, in so doing, threatened to move us toward authoritarianism as has happened in recent years in a number of other former democracies such as Poland, Hungary, Russia and Turkey.  You can view my speech here.

Rather than heed that call, Senate Republicans are redoubling the efforts of Donald Trump’s most debased allies, such as Giuliani, by using taxpayer resources and, more importantly, the imprimatur of state government to further a political strategy that seeks to undermine our electoral system.  I write now not out of fear that this hearing will in any way jeopardize the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States; Trump’s own General Services Administration belatedly acknowledged Mr. Biden’s election this week when it allowed the formal transition process to move forward.  Yesterday Pennsylvania, following several other so-called swing states that Biden won on November 3, certified the election results, effectively awarding Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to the president-elect.  No, I write because the perpetuation of the lie that this election was somehow stolen from Donald Trump – now with the aid of the machinery of state government – has longer-term implications that are not in the interests of any American who wants to see our 244-year experiment in democracy continue for generations to come.

We live in tumultuous times.  Most urgently we face the threat of the first global pandemic in a century and the economic disruptions that is has wrought.  But there are other, longer-term forces that have been and will continue to cause upheaval even after we overcome Covid-19 and its effects.  For over 60 years now the emergence of the global economy has caused dramatic changes here at home as whole sectors of our workforce have been reshaped or completely outsourced to other countries.  If that were not challenging enough, we now find ourselves in the midst of a data revolution that promises to be no less disruptive to broad segments of our working population than the industrial and agricultural revolutions were to earlier societies.  These changes make all of us feel uncertain about the future and lead some people to embrace more extreme beliefs and ideologies that can threaten the stability of even the world’s oldest democracy.

In such an environment, lies that seek to undermine our electoral system are particularly dangerous.  If large numbers of Americans start to question whether we can ever again have a fair election or believe that their preferred candidate for president was somehow robbed of victory, our ability to hold future elections will be compromised.  It is one thing for a narcist like Donald Trump to refuse to acknowledge reality and to lack the character to put the interests of his country ahead of his own (contrast his actions to those of Al Gore when he graciously conceded the 2000 election to George W. Bush), but when other elected officials who know better begin to pander to those with authoritarian tendencies we come perilously close to crossing a line as a nation that we dare not cross.

Neither the presidency of Donald Trump, nor the actions of these Republican office holders have diminished my abiding optimism in the future of America and the world. But no generation that has come before us had the luxury of sitting back while problems worked themselves out, and we are no exception.  If we want to see a brighter future for ourselves and our children and we want democracy to flourish here and continue its ascendency throughout the world, then we must remain vigilant.  Such vigilance demands calling out the big lie when we hear it and holding those who perpetuate it to account.” 

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