Democracy is a system built on trust.

We cast secret ballots and trust that they will be counted. We trust the results of the election, and if our candidate loses, we trust that we will get a chance to win next time.

The system cannot work without some degree of trust, so any politician who undermines trust in the system is attacking democracy itself.

Voters should consider this when looking at the two Republican candidates for congress in Maine’s 2nd District.

Neither former Rep. Bruce Poliquin nor Caratunk Selectwoman Liz Caruso will answer a basic factual question: Who won the presidential election in 2020?

In a WCSH-6 interview with Rob Caldwell, Poliquin robotically repeated that Trump was the winner in Maine’s 2nd District, but would not say that President Biden was duly elected.


Pressed by Caldwell, Poliquin said something about “irregularities” without offering any facts, and then went back to his pre-cooked talking point.

Caruso, who at lease had the grace to show up for a televised debate last week that Poliquin ducked, acted as if it was too soon to say who won.

“I’m not saying that I have the truth,” Caruso told Maine Public’s Steve Mistler, but, repeating a debunked Facebook meme, she claimed that a majority of Americans don’t believe the election was honest.

“It has to be investigated and we have to be sure that all of the accusations or the avenues in which there was supposed fraud are looked into,” she said.

It’s not a difficult question. The election was not very close. Biden collected seven million more votes than former President Donald Trump. The elections of 2000, 2004 and 2016 were decided by much smaller margins.

The 2020 race was very close in several states, which held the balance in the electoral college, but Biden’s victory was certified by state election officials, after audits, recounts and multiple court challenges.


It is a fact that Biden won the election, period. But Trump’s unwillingness to accept defeat has infected Republican politics, and Republican candidates like Poliquin and Caruso either believe a baseless conspiracy theory or they are afraid of offending the voters who believe it.

Either way, this should not be written off as a normal politician’s dodge. Whether they are true believers or cowards, Poliquin and Caruso are undermining trust in a process that requires trust.

If Poliquin really thinks there were irregularities, what are they? If Caruso thinks that there was massive conspiracy to defraud the nation because a lot of other people think so, what else does she believe?

How could anyone trust a member of Congress who won’t defend the integrity of democratic institutions? Republican voters in the 2nd District deserve an answer to this basic but important factual question.

If Poliquin and Caruso won’t provide one, the voters shouldn’t empower either one of them with a vote. There’s no democracy without trust and any politician who would undermine faith in democracy can’t be trusted.

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