Please consider this far-fetched example for a moment: in a televised basketball game between two teams, one team is beating the other by 14 points with only three minutes left. Then, the broadcast signal is lost and no one except those in attendance is able to watch the game. Once the game is over, the signal is restored temporarily, just in time for the announcer to say: “and the final score is…” before the signal cuts out again.
Tragically, two minutes later, an explosion in the building kills everyone inside: the players, the coaches, the announcers, and the fans. Sorry for the morbidity, but the point is none of us knows for sure who really won the game. However, the odds are overwhelming that the team with the 14-point lead prevailed, as it is extremely unlikely – albeit not impossible – to bounce back from a deficit like that in such a short amount of time.
That’s how I view every election in which there is no objective and extensive forensic analysis of every vote – which, essentially, is all of them. Including the presidential elections of 2020, 2016, 2012, 2008, etc. In each of those cases, though, and in most of the preceding ones (2000 being a notable exception), the declared winner had a cushion that comfortably exceeded the minimum margin of error. In Joe Biden’s case in 2020, he received a whopping 72 more electoral votes than Trump. As in the aforementioned basketball game, without absolute proof, we can never be sure that Trump didn’t really win, though the chances are extremely unlikely. And we can say that about just about anyone else who won or lost a presidential election, except for Bush v. Gore and a couple of other razor-thin races.
As I’ve written many times before, it is also inaccurate to state that Trump’s ‘stolen election’ claims are ‘baseless’. The more appropriate adjective is ‘unproven.’ You see, every court of law where Trump and his advocates brought lawsuits rejected them on the grounds of evidence. But it doesn’t prove that the claims were baseless. Some will scoff that “you can’t prove a negative,” but the answer is, yes you can, depending on the evidence and the circumstances. We may not be able to debunk the claim that it snowed in New York City on August 10, 1482 because there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise. But there are countless ways to prove that indeed, it did not snow there 400 years later, on August 10, 1982.
Next, much of agreeing or disagreeing with the claim that the election was ‘stolen’ depends on how that word is interpreted. If it means widespread fraud, then I join those who say that’s bunk; if it means playing fast and loose with the election process that gave one side an unfair advantage, that’s a great deal more plausible.
Adding to the complexity is a recent film by Dinesh D’Souza titled 2000 Mules. Unfortunately, the extremists on both sides either deem it “smoking gun evidence” or dismiss it as “conspiracy theory lunacy.” Neither is correct: more accurately, the film does not prove that Trump really won the election, but valuably exposes irregularities that must never happen again.
Moving on to the January 6 Committee – which is technically bipartisan but whose chair and co-chair are singularly committed to ensure that Trump is never elected again – purports that Trump’s advisors told him he really lost the election, and because he continued pressing forward with his fraud accusations, he criminally and even treasonously attempted to deceive the American people and thwart a duly executed election.
In a recent appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Kellyanne Conway, a longtime stalwart in Trump’s inner circle, confirmed that many of his closest advisors, including her, did in fact tell Trump that he lost, but that “he refused to believe us and in his heart continued to believe that he won.”
That’s when co-panelist Josh Barro, hardly a progressive, accepted her assessment and responded along the lines of: “and that’s who you want to be president again, someone that delusional?”
Assuming for the sake of argument that Barro is correct and Trump really is delusional, he has every right to be. And if he were still president, then his vice president along with some combination of the Executive Branch and Congress, would have the authority to remove him based on mental incapacitation. As it stands, the American people also retain the right not to reelect him should he choose to run again.
Legally, though, Trump has a right to believe whatever he wants to believe, and to scream it from the rooftops. And if past behavior is any indicator, he’s not likely to stop.
Nonetheless, for all those who consider the Trump legal team’s argument of calibrated Venezuelan voting machines and hidden boxes emerging from underneath vote counters’ tables after the cameras were turned off as flimsy, they should take note of their own glass houses, from which they continue to insist that Trump masterminded an organized plot to attempt a dictatorial coup.
Trump would help himself tremendously if only he shifted the blame for his defeat to lax postmark and drop box processes and not dead people’s votes, and wasn’t afraid to lose the small smidgen of his base who’d walk away if he forcefully condemned the January 6 invaders. Ballot harvesting is a lot easier for Americans to swallow than widespread fraud, and strong words to vilify criminal trespassers would somewhat soften ‘sore loser’ perceptions.
Who knows, Trump just might do that. After all, he strives to be, above all, unpredictable.