by Tho Bishop, Mises Institute:
It is an overplayed cliché to refer to the insanity of the current year. Still, 2020 manages to surprise. It is increasingly looking like 2020 has created the greatest challenge to democratic legitimacy in the past century.
Today was a truly remarkable day in American history.
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The official legal team for President Donald Trump—led by Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis—outlined an argument that America’s elections were hijacked by a conspiracy involving Dominion voting systems, the Smartmatic corporation, and elected officials of both parties. The team claimed that these actors collaborated with foreign enemies of the president to ensure he lost the 2020 election, actively inflating the vote totals for Joe Biden. The evidence, they say, will include hundreds of sworn affidavits and other documents that will validate their accusations. They also implied that the Department of Justice is either actively involved in this plot or serving to protect those involved.
The press conference was heavy in bold and striking claims, but so far the legal team has not provided enough documentation to adequately vet the claims made. It is certainly true that questions existed about some of these voting systems prior to the election and that the official results include all sorts of unprecedented voting trends that have sparked questions about their statistical likelihood. Unlikely outcomes are not, however, impossible outcomes, and there are no accusations that any voting machines were illegally used without going through the legally required certification processes.
Any serious legal challenge by Trump’s campaign team will require significant evidence that they have yet to make available. Of course, if the claims are accurate, the case involves a crime that may be beyond the capabilities of America’s judicial system.
What the Trump campaign can legally prove, however, is almost a secondary issue at this point.
Today’s press conference has entrenched the current American president in the position that his anointed successor is illegitimate and that he is the one who holds a democratic mandate to govern.
America has had controversial electoral outcomes before, such as the elections of 2000 and 1876, which ended up being decided by party leaders in a smoke-filled backroom (Republican Rutherford Hayes was given the presidency over Samuel Tilden in exchange for the repeal of Reconstructionist-era laws in the Southern states).
There are several key differences between these instances and the current political turmoil: you now have a populist sitting president, actively despised by the corporate press, who is simultaneously disliked by the establishment of his own party and passionately beloved by his base.
As I noted in an article a few days after the election:
regardless of the legal outcome, America is about to find itself with a president that will be viewed as illegitimate by a large portion of the population—and perhaps even the majority of some states. There is no institution left that has the credibility to push back against the gut feeling of millions of people who have spent the last few months organizing car parades and Trumptillas that their democracy has been hijacked by a political party that despises them.
The response we will receive from the corporate press, Very Serious pundits, and the various talking heads representing all the institutions that Trump has repeatedly mocked and belittled is obvious. Trump’s legal team is being dismissed as a bunch of partisan, sycophantic cranks spinning baseless conspiracy theories. Donald Trump is being portrayed as a spoiled, entitled man-child who would rather take down American democracy than admit he lost. His supporters will be dismissed and mocked as, at best, dumb suckers or, at worst, potentially violent right-wing extremists.
The problem is that, regardless of one’s opinion of Donald Trump or the specific claims made by his legal team, America’s elite and those in power have no credibility of their own.
For almost four years, the corporate press has propped up various false stories about the president while simultaneously propping up his political enemies and actively ignoring stories about the misconduct of Joe Biden’s son and potential conflicts of interest regarding the former vice president. The concerted effort to ask serious questions even forced journalists like Glenn Greenwald to ditch a media company he helped found.
At the same time, progressively aligned Big Tech companies (many of which are staffed by former members of Kamala Harris’s political offices) have been taking an increasingly aggressive role in censoring and editorializing President Trump and his supporters. Their claims that they have an ethical obligation to combat “misinformation” in the name of “democracy” are undermined by their willingness to actively assist the Chinese Communist Party in censoring dissidents.