Michael Anton (famous for the 2016 “Flight 93 Election” essay) reflects on all the arm-twisting going on anent acceptance of the 2020 Election’s legitimacy and he has plenty of intelligent observations.
Recently, I appeared as a guest on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast. Sullivan is vociferously anti-Trump, so I expected us to disagree—which, naturally, we did. But I was surprised by the extent to which he insisted I assent to his assertion that the 2020 election was totally on the level. That is to say, I wasn’t surprised that Sullivan thinks it was; I was surprised by his evident yearning to hear me say so, too.
Which I could not do.
Sullivan badgered me on this at length before finally accusing me of being fixated on the topic, to which I responded, truthfully, that I was only talking about it because he asked. As far as I’m concerned, the 2020 election is well and truly over. I have, I said, “moved on.”
So I thought. Then I received two emails from a friendly acquaintance who is a recognized Republican expert on elections that suggested he, too, is troubled by my lack of belief. Then came two other data points, which I noticed only after the first draft this essay had been completed. Ramesh Ponnuru snarked (snark seems to be the go-to, indeed the only, device his in literary quiver) that one of the anomalies I cited in my most recent article in the Claremont Review of Books had been “debunked” by the partisan left-wing FactCheck.org. While I appreciate the insight into the sources from which National Review editors get their “facts” these days, the quote provided admits that the statistic I cited is, well, accurate. Ponurru naturally ignores all of the other points raised in my earlier article.
Jonathan Chait wrote yet another (his 12th?) article denouncing me, for this same sin of disbelief. Why did he bother? Is there even a remote chance that a single one of his New York magazine readers either read my article or encountered its argument? Or is he worried that the “narrative” of the election is so fragile that it needs to be shored up?
I wanted to move on, I really did. But when Left (Chait), center (Sullivan), faux-right anti-conservative ankle-biter (Ponnuru), and genuine, if establishment, Right (my correspondent) all agree that my lack of belief is a problem, I wondered why this should be so, and the following observations came to mind.
Let me begin by repeating something I said to Sullivan: I do not actively disbelieve in the outcome of the 2020 election. I do not assert that the election was stolen. I also do not believe the election was totally fair, “belief” being an affirmative mental state. I say only that I don’t know; I haven’t been convinced either way. One side tried to convince me and failed (at least so far). The other side has made no such attempt but instead mostly shouts in my face that I must believe. The latter effort, in addition to being aggravating and insulting, has been less effective.
The 2020 election came down to a narrower margin than the 2016 contest: fewer than 43,000 rather than 77,000 votes in just three states. In 2016, nothing fishy in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin—the states on which 2016 turned—was detected. Certainly nothing like:
Counting shutdowns in five states, in which one candidate was ahead, only to lose after the counting resumed;
“Found” tranches of ballots going overwhelmingly—sometimes exclusively—to one candidate, the eventual “winner”;
Sworn affidavits alleging the backdating of ballots;
Historically low rejection rates—as in, orders of magnitude lower—of mail-in ballots, suggesting that many obviously invalid ballots were accepted as genuine;
Mail-in and absentee ballots appearing without creases, raising the question of how they got into the envelopes required for their being mailed in;
Thousands upon thousands of ballots all marked for one presidential candidate without a single choice marked for any down-ballot candidate.
The absolute refusal to conduct signature audits—indeed, the discarding of many envelopes which alone make such audits possible—i.e., of the kind of recounts which are performed not merely to get the math right but to evaluate the validity of ballots;
Other statistical and historical anomalies too numerous to mention here.
All of which, and much more, did occur in 2020. Any one of these things would have caused Hillary Clinton to march into court in 2016 with an army of lawyers larger than the force Hannibal brought to Cannae. …
Yet if, as it seemed to me, it’s so important to Sullivan that I personally believe that everything that happened was on the up-and-up, he might try using his platform to call for, and get, serious local, state, and federal investigations of all of the above anomalies and others not mentioned. Those investigations would then have to be reported fairly and credibly by a media that actually wants to disseminate the truth and not cover for state and local corruption or for the Biden Administration.
Of course, none of that is going to happen. The present ruling power has no interest in investigating, much less challenging, what they insist must be the only narrative: Biden won, full stop; there were no irregularities and anyone who says otherwise is a threat to Our Democracy™.
Sullivan’s most risible claim was that, if there is anything to any of this, it will all come out in the pending libel suits filed by that electronic voting company. But these private lawsuits were not filed, nor will they be litigated, to find evidence of electoral fraud. They were filed only to vindicate the public reputations of the plaintiffs and punish the defendants. The way this all will go down is that the plaintiffs will demand irrefutable proof from the defendants. When (inevitably) such is not produced, the plaintiffs will claim total vindication, which will then be trumpeted in the media.
It doesn’t matter if the plaintiffs lose the suit in the sense of not obtaining a favorable court judgment. All they need to “win” is a failure of the other side to produce proof that the media will accept as such. Since the media is nothing more nor less than the propaganda arm of the present regime, it’s foreordained to reject any such claims of proof and to deny that any and all evidence presented is credible. Hence the plaintiff’s victory in the court of “public opinion,” if not necessarily in an actual court, is guaranteed from the outset. Sullivan either knows this, is being willfully blind, or is a fool. I don’t think he’s a fool.