Political courage on the Republican side of the political spectrum seems to be blooming in state legislatures and the offices of state and local election officials, but it is scarce in Congress.

It’s hard to tell the big boss he is wrong and harder still if it’s a message so unwelcome that he won’t and can’t hear it. But in Georgia’s 2020 election, which Biden won, the Republican Secretary of State and his elections staff have been unwavering in defending the running and the results of the election.

That also holds for all 50 election administrators nationwide, who have stood their ground. They need to be applauded for it. Actually, they need to be defended and protected for it because the ensuing rejection of the results by the president and his claims that he has been robbed have set off a spate of lunatic threats and retributions by his followers on the people who ran the election.

That’s bad enough, but the threats of violence have been also directed at their wives and families.

Boiled down, here’s what that means: “Give us the results we want or we will harm you and your family.” This is bullying of the most despicable and un-American order. It is, in a word, unpatriotic.

We have been taught from childhood the hard-earned lessons of previous generations that there are disputes that are best settled by impartial observers and that those observers have the last word. Win or lose, like it or not, the participants in a contest accept the results of the contest as determined by the impartial observer.

In sports this is the referee or the umpire. In court it is the judge. In elections, it is the people who have been elected to run elections.

There are sometimes bad calls by the umpires in a baseball game. They can be challenged by the offended team, but they can be changed only by the umpires themselves. We accept that as a part of life and we voluntarily give the umpires the authority to do this.

It is the same in government; there are people who may be Republicans or Democrats who are elected by the public to leave their politics at the door when they count votes. They do it well, and we accept the results because we trust them. We don’t go down to the courthouse with a gun the day after the election and threaten to kill them if they don’t change the results to suit our politics.

That is, apparently, something that only the big shots can do. Like one of President Trump’s campaign lawyers, former United States Attorney Joe DiGenova, who said in a television interview that the former chief of U.S. Cybersecurity, Chris Krebs, “Should be taken out and shot” because Krebs stated publicly that the election was fair.

Only kidding, said DiGenova.

Are the bullies and thugs who have made death threats against state election workers and officials “only kidding?” Often people have taken the comments of a leader as implied permission to commit a crime on the leader’s behalf. Sometimes people hear voices in their head giving them permission to harm someone. Having a voice outside the head say that is a little more convincing.

So, because the president holds that the election was rigged, members of his own party, like Christopher Krebs, like Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, like the Governor of Georgia — all of whom voted for Trump – are receiving death threats because they disagree with the president.

Only kidding?

A 20 year old election worker and his family are receiving death threats because someone suspected him of doing something wrong. He wasn’t.That was the tipping point for Gabriel Sterling, the voting implementation manager for the Secretary of State’s office.

“This kid just took a job … [He was] just trying to do his job,” Sterling said in an impassioned news conference. Sterling, a Republican, went on to chastise the president and the two Georgia senators for fanning the flames and not condemning the actions their words have inspired:

“Mr. President: You have not condemned these actions or this language.

“Senators: You have not condemned this language or these actions.

“This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you're going to take a position of leadership – show some!

“Someone's going to get hurt.

“Someone's going to get shot.

“Someone's going to get killed.

“And it's not right.”

Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator and four years as chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek. Montana Viewpoint appears in weekly papers across Montana and online at missoulacurrent.com.