At the moment, the world seems to be divided into two camps.
One camp belongs to those who believe that Joe Biden, notwithstanding some possible election “irregularities,” won the 2020 presidential election fair and square. A corollary of this belief is the conviction that Donald Trump, by refusing to concede and go graciously into the good night of political defeat, is behaving badly (one venue even describes his behavior as a “disgrace”).
The second camp, which is where I reside, holds that the 2020 election was inherently fraudulent, that the fraud was perpetrated in ways large and small over many months, and that it appears to have cost Donald Trump the election. I say “appears” because the reality, I believe, is that Donald Trump won by a significant margin but that voter fraud obscures that reality.
The first camp seems to be the larger of the two and its membership is growing quickly as more and more erstwhile supporters of the president fold their tents and make their peace with “President-elect Biden.” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, was a recent high-profile defector from President Trump’s side.
Or maybe he is only a realist who sees the writing on the wall, not to mention the headlines in the papers and on CNN.
Over the last few weeks, I have written about the election so many times that my fingers feel hoarse.
I don’t know that those promising a sudden, awe-inspiring revelation are right. The much anticipated “Krakens” so far have looked more like crayfish than mighty monsters. But that does not gainsay the massive statistical anomalies that attended the voting in key battleground states. Nor does it put to bed other concerns: eye-popping voter turnout in just a few critical cities, worrisome irregularities with the tsunami of absentee ballots—nearly 60 percent of the vote, apparently—and hundreds of sworn affidavits attesting to mishandling of ballots, obstruction of GOP observers, and various forms of outright voter fraud. There are also the charges of the vote being manipulated by Dominion voting machines. I have read many stories about that, some affirming it, some rejecting it. To me, it smells fishy, but I have no privileged knowledge one way or the other.
President Trump has not fared well with his legal battles, but that has not dimmed his determination to fight on, much to the dismay, indeed, the fury, of his critics in both parties (actually, I think it is basically one big party, but that is an issue for another day).
Will there, as some people think, be a challenge in Congress, with a GOP set of electors battling against the Democrat-appointed cadre? It’s happened before, in a minor way in 1960 and in a full-blown challenge in 1876. The “Compromise of 1877” saw the Democrats accede to election of the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes by one electoral vote in exchange for the end (or the beginning of the end) of Reconstruction.
I don’t see any such compromise in the offing this time—maybe the end of the Reconstruction known as Identity Politics would be worth a Biden-Harris Administration, but that is not on offer. On the contrary: Sleepy Joe promises an administration that is all race, all the time, when it is not about climate change, mask mandates, or redistributive “justice.” And of course, Kamala Harris—the president-in-waiting—is what Joe promises: the living instantiation of all that is woke, grasping, and cynical.
It’s likely, I suppose, that Congress is just too sclerotic for anything really dramatic to happen. It seems pretty clear that the courts—above all the Supreme Court—remain terrified of being called mean names by reporters at the New York Times.
In this context, it is worth pondering “The Immaculate Deception: Six Key Dimensions of Election Irregularities,” the thirty-six page report on voter fraud in the election just published by Peter Navarro. Navarro is Director of the president’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, but he oversaw this report in his capacity as a private citizen. I am not sure that there is much that is new in the document, but it stands as a useful, one-stop summary of allegations of voter fraud and manipulation. Navarro and his team looked at the key battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Georgia. The six dimensions of irregularity they investigated were outright voter fraud (which they found in nearly all of the states), ballot mishandling, contestable process fouls, equal protection clause violations, voting machine irregularities, and significant statistical anomalies.
No one reading this will be surprised by the conclusion: “the observed patterns of election irregularities,” the report charges, “are so consistent across the six battleground states that they suggest a coordinated strategy to, if not steal the election outright, strategically game the election process in such a way as to ‘stuff the ballot box’ and unfairly tilt the playing field in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket.”
The report demands that the voting “irregularities”—a polysyllabic word for “fraud”—be investigated immediately in order to determine the “truth about the 2020 election.” Good idea. It is hardly surprising that President Trump should tweet approvingly about the report. Nor is it surprising that Twitter slapped one of its little warnings on his tweet advising fellow twitterers that “this claim about election fraud is disputed.” Nor, finally, is it surprising that (as of this writing) some 200,000 people have “liked” the president’s tweet—200,000, of course, is a tiny percentage of the 74-75 million who voted for Trump, the most ever for a sitting president and some 11-12 million more votes than he received in 2016. To believe that Joe Biden won the election, you would have to believe that a man who hardly left his basement during the campaign managed to pull in some 80 million votes, far exceeding even what Barack Obama took in 2008. Do you?
I apologize if this seems like beating a dead horse. I think the old mare has some life left in her yet, and if I continue to prod her it is because I think the 2020 election brought us to a political crossroads. If I am right and the election, in effect, was stolen, then it is a line in the sand.
On one side of that line is the tradition of the American Republic where elections might be bitterly contested but are in the end fair and are seen by both sides to be fair. On the other side of that line is a country in which elections are not fair, where they are rigged for the benefit of vested interests.
This is an eventuality that the Navarro Report recognizes explicitly. “If these election irregularities are not fully investigated prior to Inauguration Day,” it warns, “and thereby effectively allowed to stand, this nation runs the very real risk of never being able to have a fair presidential election again.”
“Never” is a long time. But I do not think it is necessarily an overstatement. I fear that John Adams was right when, writing to his wife in 1775, he noted that while destroyed cities might be rebuilt and “a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property,” a “Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.”
Many people, including some smart people of good will, are impatient with Donald Trump. They are impatient, above all, with the 2020 election. They want it to be over. They want to get on with “normal life.” They believe that ceding a stolen election to a geriatric talking mannequin represents normality because it wears a familiar face. In fact, it is terra incognita. Or, rather, it is unknown only in an American context. History provides us with many, many examples of what we may expect from acceding to such a betrayal of freedom. It is a mournful, and usually sanguinary, alternative that awaits those who barter freedom for the simulacrum of normality. I think that Donald Trump understands that. I am convinced that many of his 75 million supporters do, too.