At the time of this writing, it has been five weeks now since Election Day, and we have just happened to pass the milestone of 50, with regards to post-election lawsuits either thrown out or withdrawn by President Donald Trump and other Republican allies.
Yes, each day, the “Kraken” promised to be unleashed by former Trump attorney Sidney Powell seems to resemble less a monstrous multi-limbed sea monster, and more a Takoyaki pan, cooked and served by state courts and appeals courts with prejudice.
Quite understandably, the mainstream press has been quick to ridicule and mock the continuous efforts by Trump and his legal team to have fraudulent votes thrown out across the country, under the premise that Trump himself believes the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged in President-elect Joe Biden’s favor.
The New York Times accused Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results as being “unparalleled” and that he was “misusing the powers of his office” to try and sway electoral votes from Biden to himself.
An op-ed at The Washington Post claimed that Trump’s rhetoric about the election results is “dangerous” and boils down essentially to a “temper-tantrum”; the outlet itself has been quite dismissive overall as well of Trump’s challenges in court, citing them as absurd.
The New Republic has labelled Trump’s and the Republican’s challenges as “quixotic”.
And others still such as Michael Moore, John Podesta, Paul Krugman, and Joy Reid insisted with certainty that Donald Trump is effectively down for the count, and that any efforts of his to delay a transition process is half-witted at this point.
But wait – these names, these outlets, in this context sounds just a little familiar to me. It will come to me…it will come to me…
Oh that’s right – remember back in 2016 how, after the election, all of the aforementioned names and outlets, among others, were also consistently ridiculing the outrage from the left regarding illegitimacy and how the Electoral College should not certify Trump? If you don’t remember that…it’s because that kind of ridicule didn’t happen.
It’s practically uncanny how superbly the tables were turned four years prior. A widely circulated op-ed piece from The New York Times written by Stephen Christopher Suprun Jr. described how the aforementioned author would not be casting his electoral vote for Donald Trump following the 2016 election.
The New York Times would go on to also baselessly claim that the Russian Federation itself played quite a decisive role in the 2016 election, insinuating that the entire process may not have been on the up-and-up.
An op-ed from The Washington Post made the case that the Electoral College should turn the election in former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s favor. The New Republic made the same case.
And it gets worse. Michael Moore affirmed to Chris Hayes that the Electoral College should be persuaded to vote against Trump in 2016. John Podesta argued his support for the Electoral College solely to decide whether or not to certify Trump, under the pretense of protecting national security. Paul Krugman said flat-out that Trump’s victory in 2016 was “illegitimate”. And Joy Reid touted her endorsement of the aforementioned Washington Post op-ed.
It’s the name of the game for both establishment Dems and establishment Republicans: when it’s their team that wins an election, it’s been won by the books, and any attempt to paint said victory as illicit should be mocked and derided to the ends of the earth…unless of course they happen to be the losers in said election, in which case, they will not hesitate for a second to utilize any means available to sound the alarm bells over fraud and illegitimacy – the very means they would otherwise be ridiculing.
Now I love a good jeering session as much as the next guy when it comes to outlandish claims of spurious elections completely swayed by the influence of a foreign power or a cabal of intelligence operatives, claims that often feel right out of a Robert Redford political thriller.
But I think it makes a stronger case when this jeering is coming from reasonable and rational minds who are not driven by a bottom line, and who can see the misleading hysteria when it occurs on both sides of the political spectrum. We shouldn’t be so adamant that instances of voter fraud or foreign troll farms with ulterior motives are completely non-existent, but it is harmful to also insist that such a degree of the aforementioned exists on a scale that could swing the results of a presidential election from favoring one candidate to another.
These recent declarations from the right accusing our electoral system of being “rigged” and not truly taking into account the voices of voters is speculated to have begun to actually erode the public’s faith in such a system. Specifically, the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs look very well within range to be decided by only several thousand votes.
When President Trump takes to Twitter, decrying the entire electoral process as somehow illegitimate on such a grand scale, can we really blame Georgia voters if there are many out there who feel there is no longer any worth in casting a vote which may not even get taken into account? After all, why would the sitting President spend the last five weeks (and even further beyond that if you take into account the months spent before the election where Trump was already anticipating a rigged election) issuing such claims if there was nothing there to actually condemn?
A troubling precedent is being set for future presidential elections as well. All of the hand-wringing after 2016 about a supposed conspiracy involving both the Trump campaign and the Kremlin resulted in a conglomerate of steadfast “resistance” liberals that felt compelled to endlessly tweet about how Trump and his base were poised to tear down every pillar of our democracy, and then pat themselves on the back when such obviously ludicrous and hyperbolic conjectures never panned out. Four years later, we now have a faction of Republicans more or less conducting themselves in a very similar manner, with the Texas GOP Chair even suggesting succession in the wake of the Supreme Court refusing to hear a case regarding overturning the victory of President-elect Biden.
Meanwhile, who suffers most of all at the end of all of this? The voters.
Two election cycles in a row now have seen grave concerns being raised and temper-tantrums being thrown at least from one side of the political spectrum over the results of the presidential election. The populace though managed to keep itself from descending into mayhem and pandemonium after 2016, and looks set to also unanimously accept the 2020 results without any widespread militant uprisings or civil wars (which were anticipated rather comically).
But the political elite and the mainstream press have a substantial responsibility in the coming years to make sure that this type of hyperbolic anguish does not nearly get the same degree of airtime and exposure once 2024 rolls around. Otherwise, is it really that far-fetched to say that Republican elites in 2024 will bemoan another loss, and claim the election was stolen by “socialists” that had hijacked the Democratic ticket? And how doubtful is it that, after a 2024 loss, the Democrats and all their friends in cable news will spout speech after speech, and run segment after segment about how a supposed “Putin-puppet” such as Mike Pence or Tom Cotton is an “existential” threat to the fabric of our democracy?
Make no mistake, this cannot be the new “norm”.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: