OK, good.Now that you’re back, let’s move on to more serious things.
I planned this week to write about a labor market silver lining to COVID’s dark clouds, but Jonah’s column last Friday redirected things because I think what he wrote about Trump and the 2020 election is right and important—even now that President Trump has kinda‐sorta‐maybe admitted that he won’t be president in 2021. So I want to spend a little time today providing some additional reasons for concern regarding the political spectacle we’re still seeing play out on the internet, various media, and in courts across the country.
First, let’s just reiterate that there is still no legitimate evidence of a massive conspiracy, whether at the state, national, or global level, to rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor. Last week Jonah andThe Dispatch Fact Check crew, as well as my Cato colleague (and cybersecurity expert) Julian Sanchez, ably dismantled these claims, which—almost unbelievably! –only got nuttier thereafter. On Friday and Saturday, respectively, two different federal judges—a Trump appointee in Georgia and an Obama appointee (but Republican Federalist Society member) in Pennsylvania—quickly dismissed other legal challenges to the votes in these states, finding them to be essentially groundless (if not worse).
Still, as of my writing this, the president of the United States, several administration officials, the Trump campaign, his (ever‐changing) personal legal team, and several state and national leaders of the Republican Party continue to allege in public that a massive, historic fraud has been committed against the American People. Yes, Trump issued a tweet that seemed to acknowledge the reality of his loss, and Sidney Powell is now gazing at the undercarriage of the MAGA Express, but the legal challenges, presidential tweets and retweets (of Randy Quaid, no less), and Tucker Carlson monologues are still going, as is the Republican Party acquiescence, save a few commendable outliers.
As Jonah noted, this is no joke, despite the obvious absurdity of the allegations and sitcom‐esque behavior of its protagonists. And the damage they have inflicted—and may still be inflicting—upon the public trust could be substantial, with harms that extend far beyond just our electoral system.
Now, I fully admit that I’m not yet sure just how much damage they’ve done at this stage—if the “strikeforce” clown car continues to backfire and the president continues to retreat, maybe most Americans currently caught up in the moment will wake up or calm down (or both) and we’ll all be able to look back at 2020 and laugh with relief (and a stiff drink). Maybe.
Nevertheless, serious concern is warranted, especially given the president’s unique, Svengali‐esque ability to influence the beliefs and actions of millions of Americans—and the cadre of politicians and media personalities willing to reinforce those beliefs for donations and clicks.
Indeed, there is no politician—and maybe no human—on the planet today who can speak to more people without an intermediary: