by Jay Johansen | Nov 9, 2020
I'm writing this a few days after the 2020 elections. Mr Trump is claiming that he is being cheated out of the election by vote fraud. And I have heard numerous commentators say that it is irresponsible for him to make these charges because this might "shake public confidence in the electoral process".
Ummm ... yes, it might.
I haven't heard any of these liberal commentators say that civil rights activists shouldn't bring up cases of police using excessive force against a black person because that might "shake public confidence in law enforcement". When the Democrats launched numerous investigations of Mr Trump for supposedly colluding with Russia and various other accusations that all went nowhere, I didn't hear any of these liberal commentators saying that this was irresponsible because this might "shake public confidence in the presidency".
This reminds me of all those disaster movies where the mayor refuses to tell the public that the volcano is about to erupt or an earthquake is about to hit or whatever because he doesn't want to "cause panic". So instead he doesn't warn people and thousands of people die.
If Mr Trump's charges are investigated and are convincingly shown to be without merit, that would likely boost public confidence in the electoral process. If his charges are found to be true, then it should shake confidence in the electoral process. If the process is, in fact, insecure or corrupt, then confidence in the process should be shaken so that there is pressure for reform. Just like, if there is convincing evidence that there is widespread racism among our police, we shouldn't just brush complaints under the rug to avoid "shaking public confidence in law enforcement". We should fix the problem.
If liberals replied to Mr Trump's charges by saying, "No, that charge is false, and here is the evidence that it is false", that could be a persuasive argument. (Assuming the evidence was persuasive.) But "How dare you accuse me of cheating!" is not convincing at all. Indeed, that's exactly what we'd expect a guilty person to say.
Some of the things Mr Trump has brought up certainly sound suspicious. Like, in Michigan, Mr Biden needed 130,000 more votes to put him in the lead. And then, presto, Democrat vote counters suddenly found 130,000 votes that had been misplaced, and 100% of them were for Mr Biden.If he had needed 130,000 votes and they found 120,000 and Trump was still declared the winner, I doubt anyone would question it. But they just happened to find the exact number of votes Biden needed? It's possible that it's completely legitimate, but it's certainly fair to be suspicious and to ask questions.
In Philadelphia vote counters would not allow authorized Republican election observers into the building to watch the vote count. How can that not sound suspicious?
There have been a number of cases where people voted after they died. I suppose when the Republicans object, they are trying to suppress the Undead American vote.
Etc. I'm not going to go through all the individual allegations, because the details will likely be irrelevant by the time you read this. Maybe there are good explanations for all of them. Maybe if we knew all the facts we'd say, "Well, yeah, when you describe it like that it sounds suspicious, but that's not quite what really happenned, you're leaving out or distoring important facts to make it sound bad."
Maybe some of the alleged incidents are isolated cases of overly partisan Democrat here and there doing something stupid, but it's a minor issue and does not affect the outcome of the election. No serious person could reasonably claim that no one, not one person anywhere in the country, has done anything improper in an overzealous attempt to help his favorite candidate. When people say illegal or improper actions never happen, I dismiss them as either hopelessly naive or liars trying to cover something up.
don't know if Mr Trump's charges are true or not, and if true, if the incidents were serious enough to change the outcome of the election. But he has brought up a number of incidents that sound suspicious and that deserve to be investigated. If it turns out that in fact the election was 99+% honest and Mr Biden won fair and square, then of course Mr Trump should concede gracefully. But if it turns out that there are serious and systemic improprieties, then these should be fixed.
The idea of saying "we should investigate allegations of vote fraud and, where they are proven to be true, correct the vote count" doesn't seem to me like a statement that should be controversial.
The way to preserve confidence in elections is not to shout down and silence anyone who questions the integrity of the process. The way to preserve confidence is to fairly examine every complaint and when a real problem is found, fix it.
© 2020 by Jay Johansen