Here are a few thoughts from a voter who did not support either of the two major candidates.
1. If Donald Trump had acted with a little more presidential decorum he probably would have easily won reelection. I suspect there were millions of voters who voted for a third party candidate because they could not brook a leftist, socialist Democratic party; nor could they digest another four years of President Trump’s polarizing, narcissistic and a-constitutional rhetoric and attitudes.
2. Had Joe Biden truly run as the old middle class Joe we all have come to know, he might have easily won – assuming his Sanders left did not break with him over him doing three things that might have helped him: calling riots in our major cities wrong and criminal; calling out extreme anti-police rhetoric; assembling a thoughtful law enforcement national task force to review police de-escalation training without defunding police. Welcome to the White House Mr. Biden.
3. The experts are still getting it wrong. They always do. There is a reason. They are not experts. They are political operatives being paid to push a point of view.
a. Case in point: Rick Santorum, who is actually the most thoughtful conservative on the air these days. For several days I watched as he tried to fend off the entire CNN enterprise and inject a bit of sanity into the discussions about the election. He and Van Jones are particularly interesting to watch. I like Van Jones. But, man, is he mired in existential crisis on a regular basis. Anyway, Santorum, you should recall, is a former Senator from – yes – Pennsylvania. Yet, when discussing potential fraud he never once (unless I missed it, and I might have) mentioned the fraud rate of mail in ballots historically in the state. Sort of a relevant and compelling bit of information to frame the issue, it seems to me, but no one let’s facts get in the way of opinion these days, even the best analysts. Santorum at least offered some balance to Trump’s irresponsible rhetoric.
b. Case in point two: James Fallows at Atlantic, writing about how the media has abdicated its responsibilities. The problem is that Fallows, a distinguished and respected writer, put all the weight on the media not holding Trump accountable. Say what? I dare say that negative coverage of Trump on the cable shows, NPR and in the major newspapers and journals of the liberal establishment (Atlantic, Washington Post, New York Times, etc. ) is 9 to 1 negative. That’s probably being generous granting them 10 percent positive commentary on Trump. Fallows could not grasp that the media helped create and sustain Trump’s following by simply not doing their jobs objectively (or at least trying). Why? If you are a conservative like me and you turn to CNN for the news and all you hear is Trump bashing, you turn somewhere else to find some reasonable discourse. That drives you to Fox, perhaps, or Limbaugh, where you are likely to get equally one-sided point of view (Brent Baier and Britt Hume are true journalists). So you despair of finding truth and you hear the extremes always, but never facts and rarely reasonable debate (where is Bill Buckley when we need him?) Donald Trump should not have been impeached, for example, anymore than William Barr should heed the president and investigate the Bidens. It’s insanity across the board and so people hunker down and vote their prejudices or their defiance at being fed nonsense rather than the truth. That is a media failure and political class failure.
c. Another case in point: Jennifer Rubin at the Post claims Cuban Americans are enamored of Trump because they voted for him in Miami. You mean the Trump that defamed and attacked Marco Rubio, the most respected and powerful Cuban American politician in the country? Might they not have been offended by a Democratic Party that for decades (at least since JFK) has apologized for Fidel Castro and his dictatorship? Might Democrats embracing failed socialism be responsible for driving that constituency to Trump?
d. What about Larry Diamond at the Hoover Institute. Surely, he, writing for the esteemed Foreign Affairs Journal, will get it right? Wrong again. Diamond only a day or so ago wrote that America’s institutions have been under assault by, you guessed it, the President. Trump is responsible in part, but so too are Democrats and our federal agencies that tried to overthrow his legitimate election four years ago non-stop. That is also the truth. The Russian charges were a hoax. The impeachment effort was a partisan scam. Millions of Americans know it and witnessed it. So do they get an objective and fair review of the realities anywhere? Not really. What you get are extreme points of view even from supposedly reputable scholars and journalists and journals. No wonder our politics is corroding.
4. One last piece of unconventional wisdom: There is a path out. The Supreme Court. (God help us all if Georgia sends Democrats to the Senate). Here is the path to sanity: Facts matter. Facts mattered in Ferguson. They mattered with George Floyd. They mattered in Florida in 2000. They matter today. Al Gore was right to ask for a recount once. He was not right to try any manufacture a victory by selectively managing the recount. Same with Trump. He does not get to cherry pick his recounts or his methodology. He is a litigant, not the judge of the process. The Supreme Court should simply ask a few questions: 1) what is the going rate of fraud with mail in ballots in the three or four states in contention. There is an historical record, as a writer at this web site reminded us. Based on that posting, it is about 20 to 25 percent. Let’s accept this for purposes of building a methodology. A sample of 100K votes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona, for example, might do the trick. Let us say 20 percent of the mail in vote cannot be validated as legitimate. Let us say that Joe Biden won 75 percent of those 100k votes. That means that means that he is discounted 20 percent, as is President Trump. Of 100K ballots, that is net decline in Biden’s margin. So if Biden received 75K votes of the 100K, and we know that 15K of those votes were invalid, his vote total is reduced to 60K. Trump’s is reduced as well commensurate to his vote total. He received 25K votes, his vote total drops to 20K. That is a net gain for Trump in a state like Pennsylvania or Georgia, but it might hurt him elsewhere, say Arizona or NC. Now, let us say a total of 500K votes were cast in the state. If deducting 50K votes from Biden (remember, he loses 10K net votes per 100K votes cast on the fraud analysis) cannot change the outcome, the race is over and Biden wins. If the vote falls within the 50K threshold and could shape the outcome, the court should demand monitored recounts or simply hold another election in those states in a carefully monitored way.
5) It is not perfect. Every election in every county in America has discrepancies and flaws, a point I tried to make 20 years ago when the left screamed bloody murder about Florida. The truth then as now as that our elections are so close in some cases that knowing who truly won is near impossible. That does not delegitimize the process or the candidates. Gore won as surely as Bush did. It was a statistical tie, amazingly. Had either taken office no grave injustice would have occurred. But Bush won by the rules as they were laid out by winning not one, but two recounts. It should have ended there. Likewise, absent serious evidence that fraud will impact the outcome, Joe Biden should be declared the winner and our next president.
6. And pray that Georgia has the good sense to send Republicans to the Senate. Donald Trump can run again in four years, God help us, but there is precedent: William Jennings Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. If he is being somehow denied his rightful reelection (and I doubt it), he can always appeal to the American people’s sense of justice in four years. You won a squeaker four years ago, you may lose one this year. It’s called politics and you don’t always get your way, Mr. President.