It’s complicated. You want simple answers, go find yourself a simple world to live in and grow sunflowers. The real world ain’t simple, and in the real world the answer is both “Yes” and “No”. My take on it, for what that’s worth, is: Uncle Joe stole the election, sure, but he stole it fair and square.
Now I’m sure there’ll be some literal-minded folks out there who’ll try to pick this apart based on the words. So let me be clear: I’m not saying he did this personally. He didn’t shoplift the election, sneaking it out of the store under his jacket. He didn’t break into the White House, grab the Presidency, bop Trump over the head with it, and leg it to the Acela for a fast getaway to Wilmington. (Though that would make a fun story. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”)
No, this is more in the sense that the Sox stole a couple of bases out at Fenway. That’s what I mean by “fair and square” — what happened is allowed under the rules — at least, that’s the way the courts seem to be deciding things right down the board, and one thing I learned young is never pick a fight with the umpire.
The first stolen base was back in the Primaries, during the contest against Sanders. You may recall seeing Bernie and the Seven Dwarves on the debate stage back at the end of February; Biden was way back in the pack. And COVID-19 wasn’t even a factor; that’s how long ago this was: Nobody wore a mask, not even the catcher.
We’d started with a Bernie/Pete tie in Iowa (Bernie winning in overtime), and then Sanders swept New Hampshire. Nevada was coming… and in steps Bloomberg to split the all-powerful Billionaire Vote. There were too many candidates and the donors were actually on the stage competing. Once Sanders took Nevada, it was past time for the long shots to drop out so the survivors could split what was left of the donation pie. And… they didn’t.
Here at the Sports Desk we called it CREEP — the Committee to Re-Elect the President. A Sanders candidacy was so feared by D.N.C. insiders that he had to be defeated at all costs, including risking the whole election. And so, at the point when lesser campaigns should by all rights have folded for want of funds, each got a secret shot in the arm: Mayor Pete from corporate funding, Uncle Joe from the unions, and Klobuchar and Warren each from sudden SuperPACs, dark money they’d both condemned until now.
They were all on life support through South Carolina, which the party machine delivered to Biden, in large part by mobilizing Black churches. Suddenly, BLM was anti-Klobuchar — staged, of course, and it turns out it wasn’t an official BLM protest after all but NAACP. Mayor Pete evaporated on cue. And then: Super Tuesday, when the long knives came out.
It was the first assassination by syncopated suicide I’ve ever seen. Fifteen primaries and 1300 delegates, so heavily divided by all the spoiler candidates that Sanders couldn’t consolidate his lead. Only afterward, one by one, did the Dwarves that split the vote acknowledge their failure and crown Biden the Anti-Bernie by acclamation.
Technically, the voters chose; they allowed themselves to be manipulated, which is what always happens. But even considering that, the deck was professionally stacked by The Party, special interests, and by the billionaire backers of Wall Street against Bernie Sanders and for Uncle Joe.
Stolen base. No question.
Was it justified? Did Sanders truly have no chance against Trump in November? Were the down-ticket considerations enough to warrant the manipulation of the electorate? Well, sure, probably. Hell, given the chance, Biden might even have won the primary on his own merit; stranger things have happened. But that doesn’t change what happened. It’s merely an attempt to justify it.
The second stolen base had a thousand moving parts, each of which contributed incrementally to the final results. And this one’s got a special factor: Both parties do it. One did it a lot better this time around, is all.
Consider ballot harvesting: What California does as a matter of course, states like Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada have laws against. Because there’s a plague on, however, temporary measures allowed things like unmonitored ballot collection boxes — vital to prevent contagion, sure, but completely unsecured against abuse.
The Trump camp connects this into a conspiracy theory and claims, as best as I can tell, that because massive voter fraud was clearly possible, it evidently must have happened. And of course they would say that, wouldn’t they? But that’s his point, not mine.
Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives sent their governor a sharply worded letter about the liberties taken by officials in the face of state law. Again, malfeasance is only hinted at, and the vague threat of contesting the state’s slate of electors is merely implied; this letter is a masterwork of nastiness. And yet one compelling point was made: The actions taken created uncertainty about the results where none needed to exist.
There’s a reason there were a hundred drop boxes in Atlanta and fifty in the rest of the state: The Democrats mostly live in Atlanta, and so The Party pushed to get out the vote in Atlanta. That’s where they built their Get-Out-The-Vote effort, because Republicans live everywhere else, and why should Democrats help the Republicans win?
That same pattern holds near Philadelphia, where, for some early voters where there were errors, poll workers spent time ‘curing’ the ballots, making phone calls and asking questions. This practice was the subject of a failed Republican lawsuit: In rural counties that wasn’t done, so it arguably (or not!) created an unfair advantage. Pending still is at least one suit that seeks to block hundreds of thousands of votes mailed after the date set by law but explicitly permitted by official guidance to voters — which, even if technically correct, still aims to disenfranchise people who followed the instructions they were given.
My point with all this: For better or worse, we have an adversarial elections system in this country, similar in practice if not form to our courts. Each party uses churches to mobilize through fear and self-righteousness; each airs misleading ads that cost millions; each evades campaign finance laws by using SuperPACs. They duel for leverage with lies and cheats and redistricting, fiddling laws to their own advantage and blatantly ignoring the clear preference of the general public.
Each side will attempt to justify this by appealing to the greater good, be it terror of the vulnerable, the contempt of the superior, the jealousy of the many, or that old standby: the fear of change. And it works! The faithful remain faithful even after repeat betrayal by their own people, because they’re convinced the Other Side is worse.
And sure, the Democrats work to increase the number of votes cast (at home) and the Republicans to suppress (when away). There’s a moral advantage here, if true democracy is indeed our ideal. But in no way does this change this simple fundamental truth: It’s the party machines that decide elections. The voters are almost incidental, and democracy remains an opium dream.
Last time Trump stole home. This time it’s Biden, with a COVID on the play. But every single election, someone ends up stealing it.
Perhaps we should do something about this.
Ah, well; maybe next time.
An Aside On Trump’s Allegations:
For reasons of his own, Donald Trump is accusing Democrats of stealing the election through traditional methods: stuffing ballot-boxes, voting the graveyards, and harvesting retirement homes. Leaving aside that this is both small-scale and so very 1968, the most curious aspect of Trump’s cases is how poorly researched they all are. Hire fifty private detectives who do divorce work and you’ll get more evidence than his teams have presented.
I’m not saying it happened or it didn’t. I’m saying something more important: Even if it did, there’s no way to prove it because nobody with skin in the game is seriously trying to. This is all a show, a sham to sway public opinion. My guess is, Trump actually wants to leave the White House (or the G.O.P machine wants him to) — but he doesn’t want to go out a loser.
I could be wrong here — but consider only this: If the Democrats did cheat on a retail level, as it were, why did they manage to win the Presidency yet lose so many close House races? Just trying to make it look realistic, were they?
(Some examples of modern voter fraud:
https://nypost.com/2020/09/27/project-veritas-uncovers-ballot-harvesting-fraud-in-minnesota/ — This last is presently unverified, and really stupid if true. -Ed.)
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