The reason tens of millions of Americans don't believe Joe Biden won the election is a 40-year betrayal of the American public's trust by Republican politicians, grifters, and con artists exploiting the once-good name of Lincoln's Party.
Science, religion, and conspiracy theories are all, essentially the same thing: systems or attempts to explain the unknown, to make sense out of things beyond our senses or immediate, touchable reality. Thus, our vulnerability to con artists like Trump.
It's impossible for any individual to know or understand everything. We believe electrons make our computers work, but for all but a few scientists who've actually seen and measured electrons, it's only a belief. We must trust their word.
This is why trust is central to science, and why scientific norms and institutions require multiple layers and dimensions of confirmation before things are asserted as true or even probable.
It's also why trust is so vital for religion, and why we're so horrified by situations like Jim Jones, Jerry Falwell Jr., and child-abusing priests. To commit to a religion or existential belief system requires trust, and these are all examples of betrayal of that trust.
This is why we're so vulnerable to con artists like Trump and corrupted institutions like the GOP. Based on trust built by past "good faithâ€ politicians like Eisenhower, in 1980 Reagan began pushing scams like trickle-down and voter suppression. He betrayed our trust.
The average person has no way of knowing if "voter fraud" is real; science says it's so rare it's inconsequential. But for 40 years the GOP has pushed this conspiracy theory to justify blocking tens of millions of Americans' right to vote.
They betray the people's trust.
The average person can't confirm the reality of climate change through their own senses, so the GOP has, for 40 years, asserted that this solid but relatively complex and multi-factored science is simply a conspiracy theory. They betray the people's trust.
Observational economics, a science, shows higher minimum wages, high taxes on corporations and the very rich, and worker protections all strengthen an economy (like 1950-1980). But for 40 years the GOP pushed the opposite as economic science. They betray the public's trust.
News was once more like science: observations and data points, multiple confirmations, answers to skeptical challenges. Now there's an entire ecosystem pushing rightwing lies and calling them truth, from Fox News to rightwing radio to Facebook. They betray the public's trust.
Americans are used to believing that our Presidents speak truth. Ronald Reagan, both George Bush's and Donald Trump have all lied to use that trust to enrich themselves and their billionaire friends, poison our planet, and enhance their power by turning us against each other.
Most things in our lives rely on trust, from relationships to taking medication to relying on our car's gas gauge. Trump and the Republican party have exploited our innate instinct and need to trust and turned it against us.
Those who believe the GOP's lies are their victims just as much as the rest of us who must rely on our nation's political, economic and social systems. Without trust, none of these systems can work effectively or efficiently for all.
Corrupting these systems, Republicans betrayed our trust and turned our democratic republic to the verge of authoritarian oligarchy. America is not yet irredeemable, but we grow closer with every passing Trump or Trumpy Republican's proclamation and Fox News cycle.
Which brings us back to the widespread belief that Trump was, to quote Hitler, "stabbed in the back" by Democratic voter fraud. More than even science or religion, a democratic republican form of government cannot exist without trust.
Every democratic republic that has fallen in the last two thousand years, including the Roman Republic, was first weakened by demagogic politicians sowing distrust in government itself the way Trump and the GOP are doing right now. This is how republics die.
If the Democratic Party doesn't call this out clearly and without compromise, and impose severe consequences on these seditious traitors, the next Republican president will be even worse.
Congressman Bill Pascrell has offered a starting point: refuse to seat them in Congress. Bar associations must strip them of their law licenses, the media should ignore their bleats, and ongoing GOP voter suppression systems must be dismantled, state by state.
Congress must begin wide scale, comprehensive investigations into crimes committed by the Trump administration and the corruption of Congress by billionaires and their corporations. Citizens United must be overturned. Monopolies must be broken up.
Meanwhile, government must begin to work for the American people. Healthcare and quality education, including college, must become a right. College and medical debt for all Americans must be eliminated: it will cost less then the last two GOP tax cuts for billionaires.
None of these are "radical" or even "left" positions: every one is held by advanced democracies around the world, more than half currently run by governments that describe themselves as "conservative." Rebuilding trust is the price of the survival of our republic.