Mitt Romney would have conceded by now. John McCain would have conceded Tuesday night. George Bush would have called it quits, and then invaded Iraq for good measure. Thank God in heaven for Donald J. Trump.
Speaking late Thursday from the White House, President Trump predicted that, if all legal votes (and only legal votes) were counted, they would show that he has won the election. Over the past few days, former Vice President Biden has consistently made similar claims, without the caveat that votes must be legally cast. As has become the norm when conservatives voice concerns over a questionable election, the president’s observations and forecast were quickly “fact-checked” by the mainstream media and censored by Big Tech platforms—while Biden’s went unchecked.
The facts, we are told, show a clear Biden victory. Any suggestion to the contrary, any attempt to investigate reports of Democratic misconduct, is dismissed as right-wing conspiracizing, or the petulant protestations of a sorry bunch of sore losers. (Russiagate, it seems, has been memory-holed.) The decent thing, they say, would be concession—take the numbers at face value and call it a day. To his great credit, it looks like Trump will do no such thing.
This election has essentially come down to six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Of these six, only Arizona and Nevada really remain question marks. Michigan and Wisconsin have already been called for Biden by most sources, and Pennsylvania and Georgia are expected to follow close behind. Even if Arizona and Nevada both went for Trump in the end—the latter seems likely, while the former is a long shot—victory in the other four would secure Biden a comfortable electoral college win at 289. It can hardly be ignored that the major blue cities in each of these states—Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee—are all dominated by strong, old-school, Tammany-style machines. It can hardly be forgotten that urban Democratic machines are not exactly known for the integrity of their elections.
This is the question being asked by Trump and other right-wingers: not whether some massive conspiracy has been orchestrated at the national level, with Biden pulling the strings from a basement in Delaware, but whether the substantial misconduct that has long defined city political machines is influencing outcomes in these four key locations. This is not a question on which we can play it safe and civil. We need a full court press to get answers from people who have shown themselves unwilling to provide them.
Pay attention to the mainstream argument: Trump’s claims have not been conclusively proven, and so the mere suggestion is considered far beyond the pale. For many, the president’s assertion that 1) misconduct has been observed on a large scale in all of these key locations and 2) this misconduct will be challenged in court, is the conclusive proof they need that we are sliding into the dictatorship they predicted four years ago. The concerns are rebuked with the usual dismissals—unfounded, unproven, unsubstantiated, “without evidence”—and the narrative that Biden is the clear winner tightens its grip with every word out of every anchor’s mouth. But more than enough preliminary evidence has been provided in each of these places to justify—no, demand—investigation.
The fundamental reason all these claims remain “unsubstantiated” is that the very people who reject them on this basis are the ones who are supposed to be substantiating them—and they have absolutely, entirely abandoned this basic duty. Anyone who tries to look into the evidence is denounced as a kook or (in Trump’s case) a caudillo. We can hardly expect an honest accounting of what’s happened in the blue cities when talking about what’s happened in the blue cities has suddenly become the eighth deadly sin.
This is why—besides his unique perspective and approach drawing together the broadest coalition a Republican has built in sixty years—Trump is actually the perfect man for the moment. The entire media establishment is aligned to declare a Biden victory prematurely, with no intention of investigating election inconsistencies. Local and state governments in the places that matter are hardly more reliable—Michigan Attorney General Jocelyn Benson is an alumna of the SPLC, and Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro promised four days before the election that Trump would not win the state. The docile functionaries and milquetoast figureheads of the pre-Trump GOP could not have handled the fight ahead—and likely would have run from it.
In fact, we know that they would have, because that’s exactly what they’re urging Trump to do now. If you Google “trump+thursday+speech” or any similar query, it’s going to take a whole lot of digging to actually find the speech Trump delivered on Thursday. What you will find instead are abundant “fact-checks” of the speech that don’t actually check any of the facts, and page upon page of ritual denunciations by the chattering classes.
These denunciations are hardly limited to the left-wingers behind the anchors’ desks at every major network. CNN is proudly touting a clip of Rick Santorum, former Republican senator from PA and current senior political analyst at that esteemed news source, expressing his shock and disappointment that the president would call into question certain aspects of the election. Santorum voiced his hope that “Republicans will stand up at this moment and say what needs to be said about the integrity of our election.” (The irony is apparently lost on him.)
Similarly, Scott Walker, who was one of the first to exit the Republican primary field in 2016 and lost his reelection bid for governor of Wisconsin in 2018 to Democrat Tony Evers, has issued a number of tweets insisting that a recount—which the Trump campaign has already called for—would be pointless. He has observed that, in normal elections, recounts have done very little to alter tallies. There’s no sense to this line: this is not a normal election. Delays in ballot counting alone are enough to cause concern. Add to that the occasional full stops, after which huge quantities of Biden ballots conveniently appear. Add to that Wisconsin’s level of voter turnout—not over 100%, as some online rumors earlier suggested, but still near unbelievably high. It would be the farthest thing from a surprise if a more careful inspection really did shake things up this time around.
The same is true in Michigan, where Biden has made similarly stunning gains in witching-hour ballot dumps. On top of that, the transposition of a few thousand Trump votes to Biden in Antrim County has now been chalked up to a glitch in the tabulation software—software that happens to be used in 46 other counties. We now know there is a problem with the way the votes are counted, and even the slightest chance that even the smallest repetition of that glitch has occurred elsewhere demands the strictest scrutiny be applied to the Michigan vote.
All this and more can be said for Pennsylvania and Georgia, the two states most vital to the president’s reelection. Pennsylvania in particular is playing fast and loose with mail-in ballots, and dubious rules changes need to be challenged in court. Philadelphia has a reputation for machine-style corruption that puts Daley-era Chicago to shame. Election workers there have also repeatedly blocked GOP poll watchers from observing the process they are legally entitled to oversee. The same thing is happening in Detroit, where cardboard has actually been placed over the windows to prevent people from seeing inside the central counting location. If you have nothing to hide, right?
The president has every reason not to take the narrative at face value. This doesn’t mean we throw out the election, and it doesn’t mean we’re undermining democracy. It means we need to exhaust every avenue and turn over every stone. Everything that can be brought before a court needs to be, and every ballot that raises red flags needs to be explained. Put the screws to every machine operative from Milwaukee to Atlanta, and make sure every word holds up.
Somebody needs to give a very good answer as to why the number of ballots left to count in Fulton County keeps changing every time we go to sleep—and changing by margins that boggle the mind. Force the people who run the machines to speak, and see how long their story lasts.
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