Democratic Legislators are pushing for a 9/11-style commission to look into the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Because they are in the majority, such an investigation will likely materialize. But a second 9/11-style commission is also desperately needed to thoroughly examine the 2020 election results.
The purpose of such commissions should always be to create an official historical record based on factual evidence, rather than to point fingers at anyone. Of course, if crimes are uncovered, they need to be prosecuted to the highest level of involvement. But the reason for an official historical record is to enable our citizenry to move forward with a thoroughly vetted, agreed upon truth, to the extent that Americans can currently agree on anything.
Democrats may be taking comfort in the absence of Donald Trump from the headlines, airwaves, and social media. They may think that the problem has disappeared because he is currently marginalized. But realistically, we are just a newsroom’s editorial decision or change in social media policy away from Trump once again dominating the media landscape and having a huge sway over America’s political discourse. And even marginalized, his influence is much stronger and deeper than many on the left believe. Poll results released by Ipsos on May 21, 2021 show some alarming, silently smoldering statistics:
Believe that the 2020 election was rigged or the result of illegal voting:
- Republicans: 56%
- Democrats: 5%
- Independents: 16%
Believe that Donald Trump is the actual President, not Joe Biden:
- Republicans: 53%
- Democrats: 3%
- Independents: 22%
Believe that the January 6 riots were led by violent left-wing protesters trying to make Donald Trump look bad:
- Republicans: 31%
- Democrats: 9%
- Independents: 10%
Americans have always had disagreements about their political beliefs and what is best for our country, and that is as it should be in a healthy democracy. But the above disagreements are about basic and significant historical facts. Belief in disinformation in these areas can justify the enactment of faulty and harmful policies, and can even lead to violence. If we truly want to get at the source of the January 6 riot, we should be equally enthusiastic about having an investigation into the disinformation that animated it. If the 2020 election was fraudulent, we should want to know that, so that we can prevent future fraud. And if it was not fraudulent, we should want to know that as well, so that those claiming widespread election fraud can be decisively shut down as quacks once and for all.
Currently, Donald Trump’s supporters at the state level are conducting several amateur investigations into the election. The individuals doing the investigating often have no experience conducting an election audit, their knowledge of law is lacking, their efforts are far from nonpartisan or bipartisan, and their handling of ballots and voting machines has been sloppy to the point that Maricopa County, AZ may now actually have to replace all of its voting machines. In other words, an election investigation is already being conducted, but under less than ideal circumstances, and with questionable reliability.
Hardcore Trump supporters and Q-Anon believers may never come around to an acceptance of the 2020 election results as fact, regardless of the evidence. But with nearly a quarter of independents believing that the election was rigged, and nearly a sixth of independents believing that Donald Trump is still President, work is clearly needed to help bring about a shared reality upon which more Americans can agree.
With that end goal in mind, each commission should thoroughly explore every conspiracy theory that has been presented to this point regarding the election or the Capitol riot, and both commissions should have uniformly trained participants from a diverse range of political ideologies. Each should have:
- Progressive Democrats
- Traditional Democrats
- Traditional Republicans
- Trump Republicans/Q-Anon supporters
- Nonpartisan supervisors with expertise in the issues involved and/or the relevant areas of law
In the case of the 2020 Election Commission, access to the completed ballots should be very tightly controlled, and have uniformly applied, strictly enforced rules such as:
- Each partisan must always be accompanied by someone from the other party
- Except during committee review, all ballots and voting machines should be immediately securely locked away, if they have not already been
- No individual can be alone with a ballot or voting machine
- No electronic devices can be possessed in the presence of voting machines unless the device has been determined necessary by a 2/3 majority of committee members
- Handling of and access to every ballot or voting machine must be done under close, high-definition video surveillance at all times
- The investigation should not be localized: all cast ballots nationwide must be analyzed
Joe Biden has said that he wants to be a President for all Americans. That will not be possible as long as a large portion of the population believes that he was not even elected. We can simply tune out these Americans and pretend that they don’t exist. But that approach will more than likely backfire. In politics, when something is suppressed, it tends to come out is uglier and more distorted ways.
Photo credit: Tyler Merbler