America Needs TWO 9/11-Style Commissions

America Needs TWO 9/11-Style Commissions

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
  • Independents
  • 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.

rob rünt

Photo credit: Tyler Merbler

How Donald Trump – and America – Lost the 2020 Election

How Donald Trump – and America – Lost the 2020 Election

“We’re all victims…. every one of you,” said Donald Trump at a Georgia rally on December 5, over a month after he lost the 2020 Election. This is the Republican Party of Donald Trump. The party that once laid claim to values like rugged independence, stoicism, morality, and personal responsibility has been led by a lying trust fund baby off the cliff of self-respect to become the party of self-pitying victims.

During his 2020 campaign, Trump announced at many of his rallies that the coming election would be fraudulent. He had said this during his 2016 campaign as well, but after winning that election, the fraud that he was convinced of apparently no longer mattered to him, and the 2016 Election became “the Sacred Election.” In 2020, he had the power of the Presidency as he warned of a “rigged election.” If he honestly knew of some coming election fraud, months in advance, he could have had the Department of Justice take action to stop it. But he did not do so, because in reality, he had no clairvoyant knowledge of widespread election fraud. He was repeatedly declaring impending fraud because he knew that there was a good chance that he would lose. Raging narcissist that he is, that outcome would be intolerable, so he wanted to sow the seeds of doubt to delegitimize the result in advance if it went against him.

Amid a deadly and poorly controlled pandemic, voting by mail – a perfectly legitimate voting method that the President himself often uses – was a far safer option than in-person voting. Rather than encouraging this, however, the President proclaimed that voting by mail was inherently fraudulent, and that that was how the coming fraud would occur (he even knew the method of fraud in advance, yet chose not to stop it). His supporters, hearing this, certainly didn’t want to participate in a fraud that would harm the President, so many Trump voters chose instead to cast their votes in person on Election Day. Democrats, on the other hand, tended to be much more cautious about the virus, and chose to vote early or by mail, rather than risking exposure potentially waiting for hours in long lines. Some other Democrats voted on Election Day as well, ultimately resulting in more votes for Biden.

Some of Trump’s supporters saw the President’s massive campaign rallies packed with thousands of people, and Joe Biden’s socially distanced rallies with a relatively tiny number of people, and equated crowd size with expected number of votes, rather than with judgment about acceptable risk during a pandemic. They were likely unaware that in the 2000 Election, Green Party Presidential candidate Ralph Nader was holding rallies with 10,000-12,000 people (all of whom had to buy tickets) in city after city, while the (free) rallies of Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush rarely topped 3,000. However, Trump supporters would likely recall that Bush and Gore both got dramatically more votes than Nader. Rally crowd size is absolutely an indication of the enthusiasm of a group of people. It is not an indication of likely vote count, and during a deadly pandemic that one candidate’s supporters take seriously, crowd size is an even weaker predictor of votes.

The biggest evidence of electoral fraud that Trump supporters point to came when the election results were counted on Election Night. Early on, the President had a strong lead in the vote count, and Trump supporters went to bed snug in the confidence of four more years of the best President ever. But they woke up to see Biden pulling ahead – significantly, and his lead only increased from then on. How could this have happened unless there was fraud?

Many states count Election Day ballots first, and have laws that don’t allow them to begin counting mail-in ballots until all Election Day votes have been cast. Mail-in ballots take longer to count, because each ballot needs to be removed from two envelopes, and there are numerous verifications that need to be done for each mail-in vote before adding it to the count. That means that the results from mail-in votes tend to come in after most Election Day votes. As mentioned previously, Trump supporters leaned toward voting in person on Election Day, so their votes were counted first. Biden supporters leaned toward voting by mail, so their votes came in later and took longer to count.

Without a doubt, there were voting irregularities and individual instances of voter fraud in the 2020 Election, as there are in every election. However, the best witnesses to a more grand conspiracy, such as Rudy Guiliani’s star witness in Michigan, were deemed not credible by judges and by Republican politicians. 

After over a week of Trump denouncing a legitimate American election as fraudulent, America’s head of election cybersecurity, Christopher Krebs (a Trump appointee), stated that “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised” and that 2020 was the most secure election in American history – a verbal offense for which he was promptly fired.

Republican Governors and Secretaries of State confirmed the legitimacy of the election, and stated that it was dangerous for the President to continue claiming otherwise. States did audits and recounts (sometimes more than one recount), which continued to affirm the election results. Trump’s loyal Attorney General Bill Barr publicly stated that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud that could have impacted the end result. Dozens of lawsuits by the Trump Campaign and its surrogates were dropped or thrown out for lack of evidence – sometimes by Republican judges. Most recently, the big case that Trump had pinned his hopes on, wherein 20 State Attorneys General petitioned the Republican-majority Supreme Court to nullify the votes of Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, was rejected by the Supreme Court, including the by three Trump-appointed Justices. On Monday, the electors will cast their official votes, solidifying the fact that Biden won and Trump lost.

One would hope that this would be the end of all this nonsense, but it will not. On Saturday, Trump posted “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” Believe him. Anyone waiting for that magical moment when he will begrudgingly concede the election, or at least for the moment when Republican leaders will stop sycophantically going along with the fantasies of this whiny man-baby, will be sorely disappointed. Every lie that Trump tells is a loyalty test, and once a politician goes along with it, they have made a commitment – to the lie and to Trump. Stepping back from the lie is to publicly admit their own weak-kneed, craven dishonesty, to risk fierce condemnation from Trump, and to suffer instant rejection from Trump’s base of voters. Few Republican politicians seem courageous or honest enough to take that chance.

The charade will not stop. America will continue to endure a day’s worth of 9/11s every day from COVID-19 for the rest of Trump’s term, while he pats himself on the back for the fabulous job he’s done on that and every other issue. Trump will leave office still claiming that the election was illegitimate and that he would have won if the Democrats hadn’t cheated, and more Americans’ view of their own democracy will be diminished. Trump will continue to be highly influential in American politics as a sought-after conservative media star, where he will regularly attack those who acknowledge any reality other than his, and who thereby “betray” him (and by extension, betray America). He will hold regular rallies for his 2024 Presidential run, partly because his delicate, insatiable ego can’t handle giving up those cult-like festivals of idolatry, and partly because the rallies will give him another platform to continue claiming that he won the 2020 Election, stoking a false grievance among his supporters. He will use social media daily to undermine every action of Joe Biden – a milk toast, middle-of-the-road Democrat – whose most moderate proposals will be instantly branded as wild-eyed socialism aimed at turning America into the mirror image of communist China. Republican Senators and Representatives, tremblingly fearful of an angry Trump tweet, will all fall in line, denouncing offensive Biden proposals like infrastructure investments, economic stimulus, and efficient vaccine distribution. In short, Trump will continue on as a shadow President, and the only real change from his actual Presidency is that he will no longer be able to activate the nuclear codes or to sign executive orders and legislation. We will count ourselves fortunate if, in the coming years, he doesn’t egg on his most rabid followers from the sidelines into pursuing an all out armed civil war in the United States.

This will be the ongoing legacy of Donald Trump, victim, the “man” who lost the 2020 Election, and who has made America great again.

– rob rünt

Dear Trump Supporters

Dear Trump Supporters

Dear Trump Supporters,

     It’s been a wild four years, hasn’t it? Lots of ups and downs. It’s been great to see your values implemented in our country. Among the highlights:

  • American taxpayers paid to build a wall.
  • Federal deficits grew by $666 billion during Trump’s first year, and have now grown by nearly $4 trillion from when he took office. It takes a real businessman to know how to spend money like that.
  • America’s national debt has gone from $20 trillion to $26 trillion since Trump became President – think how much bigger he can make it with 4 more years.
  • America is now viewed globally with concern and pity – nobody’s laughing at us anymore.
  • Worldwide, people trust the President of the United States less than Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping.
  • The pain to America’s farmers from the China trade war has been graciously softened by giving farmers the dignity of billions in government handouts.
  • The government has failed to locate the parents of 545 children separated at the border, a childhood trauma consistent with your family values.
  • Your fellow citizens, and more importantly, your own children, have been provided a daily demonstration of the importance of character.
  • Republicans will likely gain a comfortable 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, albeit using situationally shifting Senate rules (but why would consistently applying the rules be important in confirming a Supreme Court Justice?).
  • Coal industry jobs have decreased over the past 4 years under Trump, but at least coal miners aren’t being trained for jobs in renewable energy.
  • Americans’ taxpayer dollars have unprecedentedly gone directly into Trump’s personal businesses to cover food and lodging for his security and staff whenever he stays at one of his many commercial properties.
  • The Washington swamp has been largely drained and replaced by the best people, although many of the best people ended up in prison, which happens with every President’s associates.
  • There has been unusually high turnover among Trump’s staff and Cabinet, because the best people sometimes turn out to be losers, nobodies, opportunists – people like Dan Coats, John Bolton, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, HR McMaster, Nikki Haley, and Rex Tillerson.
  • I hate to even mention the c-word, but there’s also COVID-19 – aren’t you sick of people bringing that up? Only 225,000 Americans have died so far – far more per 100,000 people than in most other countries. That’s a figure that can be hard to justify when you’re “pro-life.” But the President has made clear that we would have had 2 million deaths if we had done absolutely nothing – an approach that no experts were advocating. 2 MILLION! It could have happened! And as the President said just recently, America is rounding the corner on coronavirus – with over 85,000 new cases yesterday (the highest number on record for us), it should be over any day now.

     But the Trump Presidency hasn’t been all fun and games for you. Probably most unpleasant has been having to explain your support for him. You wish that he’d stop his annoying tweeting, you know that he’s rude and obnoxious and immature and an egomaniac, and you wish that he’d denounce white supremacists more forcefully and clearly, and without having to be prompted to do it. You spent the early part of his Presidency defending yourself, as if your support for him was somehow a reflection of your own character. You’d tell people that you aren’t a racist, or dumb, or a gullible mark who fell for a slick con man selling snake oil. But no justification was ever good enough for them, and they finally just stopped talking to you, instead just looking at you as if they actually did think that you were racist or dumb or gullible. It’s been tiring – exhausting really – and it’s frankly offensive that anyone would actually think that of you. And yet every day, the President says or does something new that brings up the whole thing all over again. YOU ARE NOT DONALD TRUMP – you just voted for him. Why can’t people get that straight?

     Despite the prospect of four more years of this tediousness and occasional outright hostility, it’s desperately important not to let Joe Biden get elected. Trump has repeatedly said that Biden spent 40 years in Washington and got nothing done, but that 40-year track record of doing nothing will surely dramatically change now. And his modesty, compassion and decency are all just an act that fooled even his friends like Lindsey Graham for decades. Rest assured, Joe Biden is a foaming-at-the-mouth communist who secretly strangles puppies and tortures kittens for fun.

     By voting for Donald Trump, you have a chance once more to completely own the libs! The glee that you experience from that vote, that vengeful poke in the eye to the people you can’t stand, may result in a brain drain from the U.S. as many suburbanites on the left flee what they are concerned is a nation swirling the drain into authoritarianism and economic/social collapse. But your vote can make America great as it rounds the corner to something like nobody’s ever seen before. And when America comes away deeply diminished from its dalliance with Donald Trump, his words will offer you comfort: you knew he was a snake before you took him in.

rob rünt