History suggests that when enough voters realize an important election is stolen, things get messy. If enough Trump supporters conclude this happened on Election Day, the outcome is likely to be unpredictable, and not in a way that our betters will enjoy.
The term for this species of fraud is electoral authoritarianism. It happens when a nation’s ruling elites maintain a façade of a democratic process. Opposition parties are allowed to win some races, but not the ones that matter.
Think Algeria, Yemen, Zambia, Ethiopia, Gambia, and Kyrgyzstan. Voting still happens, but the results have been predetermined. The system is rigged.
Electoral authoritarianism is not necessarily easy to detect. Politicians rigging an election want to appear legitimate. Even Fidel liked to claim that Cuba was a democracy.
The invidious group of people inhabiting organizations like the U.N. devote their lives to undermining traditional American values like enforceable national borders and the right to keep and bear arms.
Yet even these wretches cough up something useful on occasion. One example is a checklist designed to let independent observers evaluate the fairness of an election. To figure out whether something untoward is afoot, you consider:
- Accuracy of voter registration lists
- Alteration of voter registration lists
- Procedures for vote tabulation
- Ability of citizens to participate in campaigns without fear of harassment or violence
- Absence of vote buying
- Party and observer monitoring
- Procedures used in all steps of the vote count
- Purchase and intimidation of voters
- Falsification of ballots on election day
One of these checklists is touted by the Washington, D.C.-based National Democratic Institute, which supposedly works toward election integrity. Of course the NDI is too busy celebrating Nancy Pelosi’s “staunch defense of democracy” at an event next month to worry about anything as mundane as a stolen election at home.
We have been lectured by our betters since 2016 that the U.S. election apparatus is terribly vulnerable to meddling. Then, starting at approximately 5 am ET on November 4, the message flipped. Since then we have been lectured that the U.S. election apparatus could never be vulnerable to meddling. MSNBC and CNN treat reports of fraud about as seriously as Bigfoot sightings.
Our ruling elites expect us to internalize the contradictions. If you believe that Moscow might be up to some mischief, you can be a member of Congress. If you believe that Philadelphia or Detroit might be up to some mischief, you must be an insane conspiracy theorist and probably a racist too.
Electoral authoritarianism includes media organizations serving as propagandists for the ruling elites. Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center says: “Free and fair elections depend to a significant degree upon the ability of the news media to function in an impartial and professional manner.” The center warns that “biased broadcast campaign coverage” can “shift the balance of political forces.”
In 1991, a U.N. team came up with guidelines saying it “strongly encourages” the media to “present a balance of views” and to “solicit a wide spectrum of opinion.” Also: “Media outlets should give parties, groups or individuals whose views have been misrepresented or maligned by a publication or broadcast the ‘right of response’ in the same outlet.”
This describes precisely the opposite of our increasingly unhinged journalists, who have been spending their time threatening Trump supporters, labeling them “maggots,” and calling them “white supremacists.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald gets it right: “TV personalities on MSNBC and CNN know the only chance they have to keep people watching is to terrorize them into high levels of adrenaline and fear. So they have spent 4 years shrieking about fascist coups, concentration camps, and Nazi dictatorships. It’s deplorable.”
Voters will probably tolerate a modest degree of election meddling. But if it’s seen as enough to tilt a presidential election, the apparent losing side might decide to do something about it. This can happen even if there was not enough fraud to tilt the outcome, but the supposed winners act like they have something to hide.
A Comparative Politics article says that flagrant vote stealing “rips away the last remnants of regime legitimacy and removes whatever doubts there may have remained about the rightfulness of revolutionary action.”
The article warns: “Electoral autocrats change the character of their rule abruptly by stealing an election. The uncertainty produced by the political competition still ongoing in these kinds of regimes is replaced by the certainty that change through institutionalized channels alone will be impossible. Political closure through a stolen election leads to the realization that there is ‘no other way out’ than revolutionary action.”
Americans might put it more succinctly. If there’s “no other way out,” then they might conclude it’s time to shoot the bastards. If that happens, God help us all.
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