The horrible attack on the US Capitol last week cannot be condoned or reasoned away. Just as the destruction of a Target store or the emptying of a Best Buy in the violent riots over last summer had no honest justification, the assault on the seat of American government cannot be accepted. President Trump bears some responsibility as the leader of the Republican party and the MAGA movement for not keeping his supporters away from the Capitol (he encouraged them to walk there though he did not specifically advocate violence), where their presence would not have changed anything going on inside during the elector count.
While the rampage and associated deaths in the Capitol are an afront to all American citizens, the Democrats would be wise to ponder why such an event took place. They can take the easy route and say that it’s “Trump the carnival barker” or white supremacists or some other knee-jerk explanation that misses the point. When one realizes that the woman killed in the attack was a fourteen-year Air Force veteran with four tours serving her country, then he/she should think that there might be something much larger than “unhinged flyover” people attacking the seat of government.
The first election I remember watching on TV was the 1972 drubbing of George McGovern by Richard Nixon. In every election, the results flowed from late at night on Tuesday to the wee hours of Wednesday morning. And while Gore versus Bush took quite some time to resolve due to Florida, most elections and the vast majority of states reported their results in a fairly timely manner, with few changes to come later. Then we come to November 3rd, 2020. I still remember watching with my family as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona all seemed to get hung up. In all cases, Trump was leading either by a little or by a lot. Trump even came out to claim his victory while none of these states had been called. Time passed. Not minutes or hours. Days passed and the maps on the major news websites all had these states still “pink”, meaning leaning Trump. Now much larger states like California and New York had finished their counts quickly and even Trump-won Texas also finished in a typical fashion measured in hours after the polls closed. Yet these other states stayed “un-called”. Then Trump’s leads evaporated and Biden won them all. Now such an outcome could possibly come from counting pro-Trump counties first and then going to the bigger cities which tend to vote Democratic. But again, the delays seemed contrived (a broken water pipe in Atlanta; everyone being sent home to go to sleep in Michigan…) and the flipping of all of the states needed for a Biden victory seemed impossible.
Now there are people who have submitted signed affidavits alleging different types of potential voter fraud: voting machines being manipulated, ballots being destroyed or added, signatures not being checked as per the law, ballots appearing in the middle of the night, “mailed” ballots showing no fold marks from being in envelopes, numerous ballots having only Biden and no other Democrat marked in, and more. Computer and statistical experts have weighed in and said that certain phenomena such as increases in Biden votes in identical multiples or reduction of Trump votes cannot be easily explained. In the short time between November and January, appeals were made to various courts, from local to the Supreme Court, selective recounts were made, efforts were put forth in state houses to investigate the claims, and appeals to Congress were made to challenge the elector slates. None of these avenues led to any states flipping or any large-scale changes in vote tallies.
Now my suggestion to Democrats is to take a moment to think like a Trump supporter. 75 million people voted for Donald Trump. Many people found a job in the pre-Covid Trump economy (with the lowest unemployment rate in decades), others saw their salaries go up. Anyone in the stock market saw share prices go up during the past four years. The vaccines came out in record time, the military received significant budget boosts, and manufacturing in America grew. The vast majority of those 75 million pro-Trump voters supported the president because of his policies or his frequent mention of G-d and religion, his opposition to abortion or other policies such as bringing peace between Israel and various Arab countries or jawboning NATO members to pay up. These people are not lunatics or white supremacists or violent agitators. They are normal, patriotic Americans, many own small businesses or work to make a living. And when they look at the strange events of election night, hear the whispers of vans producing ballots in Philadelphia, and see that every appeal to look into the charges of voter fraud came up empty, they feel like the system has been rigged. Democrats should think about it in reverse: picture Biden up 5 million votes when you went to bed only to find out in the morning that he had lost by 3 million votes. Wouldn’t you also be certain that something fishy happened? Again, nothing justifies the attacking of the Capitol, but Democrats would be wise to understand the feelings of half of the country—the slow-walked counting and the flipping smell like voter fraud, even if nothing has been proven in large quantity. A scholarly paper coming out in five years showing that false paper ballots were employed and changed the outcome in several states will not help the Trump voter who feels robbed today.
If the Democrats do not want 75 million seething fellow citizens making a Biden presidency a failure, they would be wise to reach out to Republican politicians and leaders (not Trump) and work to convince Republican voters that the vote was kosher. Anything short will always leave an asterisk after Biden’s name as president in the eyes of millions and will leave large swaths of America feeling that the election was stolen. Screaming Nazi! White Supremacist! Redneck! will not bring the country together. If the Democrats are confident that all ballots that were counted were proper and that all proper ballots were counted, then they have an obligation to convince Trump-supporting Americans as to the proof of their case. Trump supporters are inured from the trumped-up “Russian collusion” investigation to the impeachment theater on actual influence peddling by Biden’s son Hunter. Trump and by extension his supporters have been relentlessly attacked from the moment Trump and his wife took the elevator down in Trump Tower in 2015.
The Democrats claim that Biden won fair and square, even though the Democrats lost many seats in the House (and statehouses) and did not achieve the wave they had hoped for in the Senate. If they want legitimacy in their rule, let them show that the results of the 2020 election were honest and correct. Calling millions of Trump supporters names will not bring national unity and it will not help them lead the US forward. Prove that Biden’s victory was legitimate if you truly want to unite the people of the United States. Telling Trump’s supporters to shut up or calling them all domestic terrorists will not lead to a more perfect union.