The Kansas City Star, Dec. 17

Poor Roger Marshall claims still not to know the identity of our next president; should we tell him and ruin the surprise? And have we perhaps been premature in referring to the congressman as Senator-elect Marshall, just because the Kansas Republican got many more votes than his opponent, and will soon be sworn into office?

Acknowledging reality is widely considered optional now, which is how Marshall can claim without bursting into either laughter or flames that “we’re in the middle of a process” that will result in the inauguration of somebody or other on Jan. 20.

The votes have been counted and recounted. Trump-appointed judges across the land have rejected the president’s fraud claims as insubstantial, and the Electoral College, too, has done its job. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his victory, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin has given up on his preferred candidate.

But not so fast, says Marshall. “I feel like we’re in the middle of a process that’s going to take us to Inauguration Day on January 20 and whoever is sworn in on January 20 I’m going to call Mr. President with great respect,” Marshall told The Star on Tuesday.

Whether this pandering is serious or as cynical as it sounds, we can’t know.

But either way, remarks like this are far from harmless because day after day and week after week, they’re undermining both our democracy and the physical safety of election officials who are still getting death threats instead of the kudos they deserve.

Marshall was one of the 126 Republican House members to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in four swing states. The Supreme Court refused to take the case.

When Congress meets on Jan. 6 to formally accept the results of the election, Marshall says he may try to block Biden’s electoral votes from being accepted, though McConnell has counseled Republicans not to object.

“January 6 is the next big step of this process,” Marshall told The Star. “I’m going to keep weighing the evidence between now and then and make a decision on January 5.”

We can’t pretend to be as surprised by any of this as Marshall will apparently be by his own actions on that day.

But we are genuinely saddened that retiring Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, whose seat Marshall will fill as of Jan. 3, has also failed to stand up for the facts in his final weeks in office.

As Roberts’ former chief of staff Leroy Towns said, his old boss refused for weeks to utter a peep against “Trump’s lies and his intentional and cynical effort to undermine support for our democracy.”

Roberts, who did finally accept Biden as president-elect after the Electoral College vote, said last week that he hadn’t spoken out because “I’ve got still three things I want to get done and all three (are) going to have to have presidential approval. Why should I go out of my way — either way — to say anything about this?”

Why? Commitment to our democracy would require it. Respect enough for constituents to tell them the truth would, too. As would care enough for election officials to try to avoid putting them in any further danger.

“Why should I go out of my way?” is a question that perfectly sums up how lost we are. Roberts has forgotten the answer, and Marshall never knew it.

Lawrence Journal-World, Dec. 20

The election results aren’t quite done yet.

No, this isn’t about whether Joe Biden is going to be president. If anyone is ever going to get tired of winning, it will be Biden. He wins in the popular vote, he wins in the electoral vote, he wins in the courts, he wins when you count the votes in English, he wins when you count the votes in Spanish, he wins, he wins, he wins.

No, the results that are still piling in count who is irredeemable and indispensable. The tallies on both sides are significant.

First, the indispensable. Those include every judge and justice who struck down lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the election because there was no credible evidence to support the claims of widespread fraud or conspiracy. Those indispensable servants of the public include every justice of the Supreme Court appointed by President Donald Trump and several lower court judges who were appointed by him as well.

Perhaps the most important result from this election is that Americans can disagree on tremendously important issues — guns, abortion and many others — yet still agree on the bedrock principles that the country was built upon. Judges throughout the system protected the fundamentals of democracy and a peaceful transfer of power, which continues to be the defining trait that makes America the greatest country in the world.

This current U.S. Supreme Court will disappoint, frustrate and infuriate liberals on many occasions. But liberals should think long and hard about demonizing those members ever again. The justices and liberals have different views, but not different allegiances.

Now, the irredeemable. Any person in a position of political power or leadership who made claims of election fraud without evidence should be written off — not as humans, mind you, but as political leaders and servants of the republic. Some acts cannot be forgiven. Willfully damaging the foundation of our country for naked political gain is one such act.

The list of leaders who have done that is depressingly long, and the most egregious are well known. Of course President Trump is at the top of the list, but little more needs to be said about him. The most important fact to remember about the president is that there soon will be a day in this newspaper where the word “Trump” most frequently will be used in the bridge column. Sometimes the best way to squelch a fire is to deprive it of fuel.

Instead, we should focus on important change that is within our grasp. This election can be significant for more than just ending the Trump presidency. It can be the beginning of a new era of moderation. There are Republican leaders who are appalled by how some of their fellow members so casually tried to delegitimize the election results out of fealty to a single man.

Democrats — led by Biden, a man of true moderation — now must work to form not a new party with these Republicans, but rather a new coalition. The idea of a true, third, meaningful political party is still a long ways off in America. Instead, moderates in each party should keep their labels of “D” and “R” and agree to focus less on that which they disagree about and more on their commonalities.

They could go so far as to formalize their coalition. They could call themselves the Foundationalists, in reference to a belief in the foundational principles upon which the country was built. Yes, those will have to be defined, but now it is probably easier to define what the group won’t be about. There won’t be litmus tests on abortion, guns, tax policy or the evilness of corporate America for example. Those are important issues, but not building blocks of our country’s foundation.

This recent election showed that a political rot that has been ripening for decades has sunk into our foundation. Principled men and women can halt its advance. It starts with Republicans saying they are under no obligation to support fascists, and, yes, Democrats are under no obligation to support socialists. Bet on the belief that America wants neither.

Then, those principled men and women must do the unthinkable in today’s political world: work together. Leave their differences on mere causes at the door, and focus on the doable. Produce results. Results will rid us of the rot.

America’s putrid politics can change, and it will do so one positive result at a time.

Garden City Telegram, Dec. 21

The pandemic has stretched on for months. And while vaccines are on the way, it’s going to stretch on for at least several more.

So what do we gain by abusing those who work to help us? Why did Shawnee County commissioners press Health Officer Gianfranco Pezzino to the point that he resigned two weeks early? Why did Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw feel the need to quit after vocally supporting a mask mandate? Zooming out, public health officials across the nation have been leaving their jobs in droves.

If you’re angry, if you’re disappointed, that’s OK. But none of these people created this situation. A microscopic virus did.

We understand the anger about businesses closing and jobs being lost. But these are also problems that would exist no matter what public health orders existed. People are not going to patronize businesses in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic. The solution is for governments to step in and make sure those businesses and workers are taken care of.

And we know: The federal government hasn’t exactly been consistent on this front. Congress appears to have finally made a breakthrough on additional relief, but it likely won’t be enough. Still, not one iota of this is the fault of public health experts or local officials.

Everyone’s case is unique. But people already give up a great deal of time and privacy to serve the public. They do it because they care about public well-being and their neighbors and friends.

We’re all fellow humans, and we’re all going through this disconcerting and difficult experience together. That should count for something. And no, we’re not going to agree on the best course of action all the time. But a little bit of sympathy, of understanding, of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, should go a long way.

We have further to go, too. This winter is shaping to be an especially challenging time. Vaccines have arrived, but there won’t be enough supply to meet demand for several months. We will all be indoors as the temperatures drop.

Let’s resolve this holiday season to truly care for one another. Public health experts and government officials are people just like you. They want us all to be safe and well. Let’s show unity rather than division.