An Unsettling And Unsettled Election

If a time traveling historian decided to choose a critical point in American history to visit and study, I suspect the next month or so might make the list.  Rarely have we seen so many perfectly average and ordinary Americans—although there are radical fringes on both sides—lined up in opposition to the values, judgments, and beliefs of one another.  The middle ground has been rendered uninhabitable by the vitriolic rhetoric and hostile actions that have contributed so much to turning our nation into two factions who hold one another in contempt.  The tinder is piled very high; all that is needed is a spark.

Cue the questions over the implausible outcome of the 2020 Presidential election.

Democrats took an awful shellacking on the state and local levels, and even the most evenhanded observers have used terms like “bloodbath” and “disaster” to characterize these electoral outcomes.  However, despite the apparent distaste for many Democratic candidates and positions, a great many voters supposedly made a pivot worthy of a prima ballerina and cast their votes for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in a weird and unprecedented example of a reverse coattail effect, one where the party leader buoys his followers—yet somehow sinks himself.

It now seems to be the mission of much of the mainstream media to ignore this utterly anomalous Presidential election outcome and instead insist that anyone who dares to wonder how this could happen is undermining democracy with their doubts.  This effort has been somewhat less than successful simply because telling Americans that asking questions is un-American is a strategy unlikely to convince anyone but those who are already convinced.

Whatever the courts should ultimately decide regarding the election challenges that President Trump and his followers are now filing, we have reached a startling inflection point in our nation’s history.  

It could be the case that there were many Americans who voted for Republicans but decided that Donald Trump was simply too polarizing a figure to remain in the Oval Office, but this seems unlikely simply because Joe Biden could be presumed to be ready to use the powers of the Presidency to reverse the very policies that these voters apparently supported.  Any rational evaluation of voting behavior would indicate that splitting your ballot in order to, for all intents and purposes, vote against yourself would be the height of insanity.  Given the strength of the partisan passions that now animate our lives, it is difficult to give much credence to this explanation of the 2020 Presidential election.

So we come back to suspicions regarding efforts to influence the vote count in a handful of Presidential swing states through methods both fair and foul.

American elections have featured efforts to tilt the tables to favor one candidate or another since the founding of our nation.  The dead vote, ballots appear and reappear, and all manner of chicanery is used to get your own voters in and keep your opponent’s voters out.  Speaking as a resident of the great state of Illinois (and, for many years before, New York and New York City), I have had a front row seat to observe all manner of corruption, double dealing, and fraud.

Therefore, do I find it impossible to believe that a new way to switch electoral outcomes has been invented and used to push Joe Biden over the finish line while the rest of the Democratic Party underperformed in 2020?  No, I do not.  I am neither so naive nor so partisan as to ignore this possibility.

However, we now need proof instead of allegations.  If this is not swiftly forthcoming, either in the form of a grand conspiracy or simply a concerted effort to bend the election rules beyond what the law permits, President Trump must gracefully concede to the then President-Elect Biden in line with all the traditions of American democracy.  Tweets and rants must now give way to credible and verifiable facts.  

If evidence that the Presidential election result was flipped through fraud can be presented prior to the Inauguration, we will have crossed the rubicon into a new and scary period when a duly-appointed Special Prosecutor and multiple investigations will be needed to sift through the facts and identify this culprits.  I am certain that I am not alone in hoping this will not be the case because we will be sure to experience angry and frightening civil unrest and upheaval on a daily basis while the actual election results are determined.  This will be a grim necessity if we want to preserve our nation, and it will be awful in ways we can barely imagine, but we must know the truth.  

However, if we have an opportunity to seek out possible malfeasance regarding the confounding outcome of the 2020 Presidential election and none can be found, we will still be a sadly divided country—but we will at least be able to better support a new President during today’s dangerous and challenging point in American history.  This may not seem like much to some, but it would actually be the best possible outcome of the 2020 Presidential contest.  The alternative—demanding that those with concerns just shut up and smile—is likely to produce only the most corrosive conspiracy theories, ones which will cause a further retreat to the angry extremes of American politics precisely when we desperately need to rediscover the lost art of bipartisan compromise in order to get our nation back on track.

We might not like having to hear the questions or find the answers, but it just has to be done—much like some sort of national root canal surgery—for the good of our country and our people.

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