ANDERSON – President Donald J. Trump described the 46-minute speech as perhaps the most important he had ever delivered. In it, he claimed that the election had been stolen, and he called on the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. “Hopefully, they will do what’s right for our country because our country can’t live with this kind of an election,” he said.

By Thursday, the Facebook video had drawn roughly 630,000 reactions and more than 180,000 comments. It had been shared tens of thousands of times. And it was absolutely without basis. Facebook said as much in a disclaimer attributed to the Bipartisan Policy Center. “Both voting by mail and voting in person have a long history of trustworthiness in the U.S.,” the disclaimer read. “Voter fraud is extremely rare across voting methods.”

And yet the president keeps lying. “Millions of ballots were cast illegally in the swing states alone,” he said. The president’s main argument seems to be that a guy who received 74 million votes could not possibly have lost the election. Never mind that President-elect Joe Biden received 7 million more.

“Many people received two, three and four ballots,” the president said. “They were sent to dead people by the thousands.”

If all the fraudulent votes were tossed out, the president insisted, he would win easily. “The media know this, but they don’t want to report it,” he said. “In fact, they outright refuse to even cover it because they know the result if they do.”

He admitted there would be skeptics. “Even what I’m saying now will be demeaned and disparaged,” he said, “but that’s OK. I just keep on going forward because I’m representing 74 million people.”

Some of the skeptics have pointed out that if the dastardly Democrats were going to go to all the trouble to steal an election, they surely would have done a better job of it. I mean, come on. Why have all those dead people filling out absentee ballots if you aren’t going to be sure they elect a few more Democratic senators?

The president sees it differently, of course. With all those Republicans winning elections across the country, he said, “it is statistically impossible” that he, the person leading the charge, could get beat. Clearly the Democrats were cheating, he said. Even in states like Georgia and Arizona where the Republicans were in charge!

We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. The president made clear months ago that the only result he would accept was a win. The real question is how much damage he’s doing to the democratic process. How many people actually believe his absurd claims?

Surveys taken since the election seem to indicate as many as 80% of the president’s supporters believe what he’s saying, but do they really? Or are they just saying so out of partisan loyalty? For some, it might be the latter. A recent survey by YouGov found 49% of Republicans saying they expected Donald Trump to take the oath of office for a second term. That’s more than 36 million people, but it’s far short of the more than 59 million represented by that 80% who voiced support for the president’s fraud claims.

Part of the problem might be the small number of prominent Republicans who have acknowledged the reality that Donald Trump lost the election. For weeks now, far too many of these folks have ducked the issue or, worse, suggested the president might have a valid claim. The time for such cowardice is behind us. Courts across the country have determined the president has no case. It’s time to admit that. 

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at kelly.hawes@indianamediagroup.com. Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.