The Election Wasn’t Stolen, But the System Was Gamed

In last week’s column I mentioned that I feel like I’m on a tiny island in between two oceans of political extremism. Continuing with that example, it is especially difficult to discuss the election results. One ocean’s inhabitants swear the election was ‘stolen’ insofar as Trump votes thrown into the garbage and Biden votes intentionally counted several times or falsely boosted by rigged Venezuelan machines. The other ocean’s dwellers insist that any mention of election irregularities is mere paranoia, and that the reason Joe Biden won is because millions of Americans became self-motivated to vote for him, or, more accurately, to vote against Donald Trump. Do you see my conundrum? Welcome back to my island.

I learned long ago never to have a conversation about racism without my interlocutor and I first agreeing upon a definition for that word. It’s time we apply that same rule to the word ‘stolen’.

If stealing the election means stuffing ballot boxes with phony Biden votes or removing genuine Trump ones, to enough of an extent to change the outcome, then, no, I don’t believe the election was stolen. But if stealing means last-minute changing of electoral processes arguably without the constitutional authority to do so, and thereby changing the outcome, then the answer isn’t quite as simple.

Clearly, Biden won because the Democrats were better than the Republicans this time around at gaming the system. Consider this analogy: two teams, the Democrats and Republicans, are playing in the Little League best-of-seven World Series, with Game 7 to decide the winner. The League rules are that no one older than age 12 may play. But shortly before Game 7, the Democrats’ manager recruited several adult athletes to join the team and named them all starters, benching the kids, based on the rationale that “we don’t want to put any more children at risk of contracting COVID, and so these brave adults have agreed to play in their place.” The Republicans protested, insisting that only the Little League Owners Association collectively may make such a decision, but the manager proceeded anyway. The Democrats trounced the Republicans in Game 7 by a score of 15-1, thereby winning the Series.

The Republicans and their fans formally protested the results by filing lawsuits in various Little League Courts. They included sworn eyewitness affidavits stating that some Democrats players put pine tar on their bats and a couple of umpires had close ties to the Democrats team. Some cases are still pending, but most were dismissed due to insufficient evidence or that even if all of the claims were true, they were still too few to alter the Series’ outcome.

Many Republicans were outraged, some claiming that the Democrats were part of a secret plot to destroy baseball from within, by injecting the communist philosophy into the game. The conspiracy theory suggested that all games would end in tie scores: if one team was behind, its players would have as many at-bats as necessary to tie the score and end the game that way.

All of this is a distraction as to why the Democrats really beat the Republicans in the Series: it was because they gamed the system by loading up the team with adult players, without an official procedural rules change granted by the Association.

Fans of another team, the Libertarians, brought a lawsuit in the Little League Supreme Court raising that issue, but that court refused to hear the case, stating that because they were Libertarians fans, not Republicans fans, they had no standing to sue. Their counterargument, that they were affected because as baseball fans they are entitled to a fairly played Series, fell on deaf ears.

More on that issue later, but for now, back to the election. Democrats were so successful at gaming the system by making it especially convenient for Democrats to vote in the critical swing states. They installed drop-off ballot boxes in heavily Democratic neighborhoods, with disproportionately large populations of color, all in the name of “COVID prevention.” They even went to people’s homes, registered them, later brought them ballots and collected them. Granted, most of these helpers, newly hired city employees, were honest, and didn’t throw away ballots from homes with Trump stickers on the front door. At least not enough to change the outcome. But because those voters are overwhelmingly Democrats, it explains why both parties got so many new voters, and that Trump did even better than last time among blacks and Latinos: for every ten new voters of those demographics whose hands were held throughout the entire process, if eight voted Biden and two Trump, it all makes sense. In 2016, none of those folks had voted at all.

Here’s the hard truth that Trump supporters and Republicans in general haven’t faced: there are more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. If every person had an automatic “Vote Now” message pop up on their cellphone, the Democrats, with rare exception, would win presidential elections time after time. Democrats may argue it’s because they have better policies. I say it’s because the Democrats are the party of candy and Republicans the party of broccoli, and more people like candy than broccoli.

The reason Republicans keep it close enough to win sometimes is because they tend to be less apathetic about voting than the Democrats; it somewhat evens the playing field. In 2016, they outhustled the Democrats by catching more fish: in that instance, rural white Americans who never voted before. This time, the Democrats beat them at their own game.

Trump supporters need to accept that Biden won and that the easier it is for people to vote, the more often Democrats will win. But they should still make an issue about governors exceeding their authority with eleventh-hour election rule changes.

Yet, there’s hope: just as many observers correctly pointed out that, ultimately, Trump would be his own worst enemy, the same holds true for Democrats. Barely a month into their political reign, they’re already making fools of themselves in grand fashion.


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