Chasing After Delusions
Terry H. Schwadron
July 19, 2022
Before the Select House Committee on Jan. 6 renews hearings that are seeming to pin Donald Trump at the center of multiple plots to overturn election results through the Capitol riot, we should reconsider the basic argument that the election was rigged.
The latest effort to do so is the new 72-page report by eight self-identified political conservatives — judges, political leaders, judges and two former senators — that reviews the so-called evidence in 64 court cases filings or 187 counts in six key battleground states to justify Trump’s claims of fraud. It reviewed the recount and appeals procedures as well.
Like court rulings and other reviews, these findings by Benjamin Ginsberg, former longtime deputy head of the Republican National Committee, former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, former solicitor general Theodore Olson, and staunch Republicans are that it was all hooey.
Read the report yourself; the report is detailed, organized and proceeds claim by claim. It is for sure that those defending Trump will not do so, and merely continue to repeat the canard. How else to explain why election deniers continue winning Republican primaries as some kind of organized baying at the moon?
“We have become deeply troubled by efforts to overturn or discredit the results of the 2020 Presidential Election,” they wrote. “Claims that an election was stolen, or that the outcome resulted from fraud, are deadly serious and should be made only on the basis of real and powerful evidence.”
“To have 30 percent of the country lack faith in election results based on unsubstantiated claims of a “stolen” election is not sustainable in a democracy,” they concluded. “Our conclusion is unequivocal: Joe Biden was the
choice of a majority of the Electors, who themselves were the choice of the majority of voters in their states,” they wrote, adding that the pandemic and a significant number of voters willing to vote for other Republican candidates on the same ballot “are the reasons his campaign fell short, not a fraudulent election.”
As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted, the conclusions by the report by “a group of Republican staffers and officials with robust partisan credentials” were ”as unsparing as unsurprising.”
Absolutely No Evidence, They Said
So, this is the word from Republican political pros about the basic justification for Trump’s never-ending campaign to revisit 2020 election fraud: “There is absolutely no evidence of fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election on the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, there was no fraud that changed the outcome in even a single precinct. It is wrong, and bad for our country, for people to propagate baseless claims that President Biden’s election was not legitimate.”
The report sifts through a variety of social studies, vote recount documents and the trial claims themselves.
Even if there was evidence of fraud, the Jan. 6 inquiries argue, there was federal law-breaking that was coordinated and plotted from the Trump White House. But to hear this report from these particular people should prompt those still carrying on the ceaseless campaign that Trump lied to them, that the emperor has no clothes.
The report meshes precisely with the presentations by the committee — harshly criticized by Republicans in Congress as being biased to attack Trump. Asked by White House lead lawyer Pat Cipollone, former Attorney General Bill Barr and others even within the Trump administration to show the evidence, Trump’s inner circle could not produce evidence of any fraud, never mind what would be needed to overturn results in six states.
“Our review of (the 64 court filings) affirms that the 2020 election was administered by trained professionals who reaffirmed their established track record for fairness,” reads the report.
As Trump considers running again, he should drop these claims and find a reason to offer his candidacy. As a Republican majority already is planning on taking over the House, they should be paying more attention to inflation, imbalances and policies than on retributive and partisan defenses for this same, worn, discarded election material.
Fearing the Loss of Trust
The worst result, these authors say, is the loss of trust in the institutions of democracy and elections. “If the American people lose trust that our elections are free and fair, we will lose our democracy,” say the writers.
After close examination of the variety of claims, “We have become deeply troubled by efforts to overturn or discredit the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.”
In the past 30 years,” those tasked with administering our elections have helped create a modern election system in which we can and should have confidence,” despite accommodations for pandemic, despite increased mail voting, despite drop-boxes and the rest.
States should redouble their efforts to strengthen the integrity of our voting systems and make it as easy to vote and as hard to cheat as possible for persons of every circumstance, the report advises. The record of voter-limiting measures across states with Republican-dominated legislatures is filled with efforts to make it more difficult to vote, particularly in areas with dominant minority populations or lacking ready access to polling places.
But, the report said, “We urge our fellow conservatives to cease obsessing over the results of the 2020 election,” to look for candidates with a more positive vision. More than 100 of this year’s Republican primary winners list 2020 election denial as a top-tier issue.
Given the provenance of yet another report by conservative politicians, the real question at this point is why the fraud claims are given any light at all. To believe now that there was systemic fraud frankly is delusional — that is, not part of any recognized reality. Apart from facing the looming probability of criminal charges, how can we allow a self-promoting, delusional candidate to consider seeking another term in the White House?