By Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist
If questioning the results of a presidential election were a crime, as many have asserted in the wake of the controversial 2020 election and its aftermath, nearly the entire Democratic Party and media establishment would have been incarcerated for their rhetoric following the 2016 election. In fact, the last time they accepted the legitimacy of a presidential election they lost was in 1988.
After the 2000 election, which hinged on the results of a recount in Florida, Democrats smeared President George W. Bush as “selected, not elected.” When Bush won re-election against then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004, many on the left claimed that voting machines in Ohio had been rigged to deliver fraudulent votes to Bush. HBO even produced and aired “Hacking Democracy,” a documentary that added fuel to the conspiracy theory fire of conversations about the 2004 results. But nothing holds a candle to what happened in 2016 after Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rather than accept that Trump won and Clinton lost, the political and media establishments desperately sought to explain away Trump’s victory. What they settled on was a destructive conspiracy theory that crippled the government, empowered America’s adversaries, and illegally targeted innocent private citizens whose only crime was not supporting Hillary Clinton.
With baseless claims of hacked voting totals, illegal voter suppression, and extensive media manipulation, the Russian collusion hoax had it all. But more than anything, the belief that Trump stole the 2016 election had the support of the most powerful institutions, individuals, and even government agencies in the country.
“I know he’s an illegitimate president,” Clinton claimed of Trump a few months later. She even claimed during an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” that “voter suppression and voter purging and hacking” were why she lost.
Former President Jimmy Carter agreed.
“[Trump] lost the election and was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” he told NPR in 2019. “Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016.”
Their view was widely shared by most prominent Democrats in Congress. In 2017, one out of every three Democrats in the U.S. House boycotted Trump’s inauguration. Many said they refused to take part in the installation of an illegitimate president.
Not only did corporate media not condemn leading Democrats’ refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election, the media were also super spreaders of wild conspiracy theories about how Trump and Russia colluded to steal the election from Clinton. They dutifully regurgitated false leaks from corrupt intelligence officials suggesting that Trump and his staff had committed treason. They ran stories suggesting that Republicans who didn’t support their conspiracy theory were insufficiently loyal to the country.
Rather than being shunned by their peers for peddling leaks and lies that had no basis in reality, the reporters who pushed this conspiracy theory were lauded by their peers, received raises and promotions, and were given Pulitzers for “reporting” that turned out to be detached from reality.
And then 2020 happened.
With the snap of their fingers, America’s electoral system went from irredeemably corrupt and broken in 2016 to unquestionably safe in 2020. Voting methods that were allegedly used to steal elections in 2004 and 2016 suddenly became sacrosanct and impenetrable in 2020. Whereas so-called election experts repeatedly warned pre-2020 about the pitfalls of electronic voting and widespread mail-in balloting, by November of 2020, any discussion about the vulnerabilities of those methods was declared to be verboten.
If, as I believe, concerns about election integrity were valid in 2000, and 2004, and 2008, and 2012, and 2016, then surely those concerns were even more valid in 2020, an election unlike any other in American history due to the COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world and radically altered America’s electoral system.
Across the country at the state, local, and federal level, hundreds of significant structural changes to the manner and oversight of elections were instituted, resulting in what Time Magazine called a “a revolution in how people vote.” Some of these changes were enacted by state legislatures, some by courts, and others by county and state election officials. Many changes were allegedly justified by the global pandemic, although Democrats had long advocated for them and now seek to make them permanent.
The bedrock of the American republic is that elections must be free, fair, accurate, and trusted. Election lawyers will tell you that fraud is almost impossible to conclusively find after the fact, and that to fight it, strong rules and regulations are needed on the front end. That’s why Democrats and Republicans fight so bitterly about the rules and regulations that govern the process.
What happened during the 2020 election deserves to be investigated and discussed. It must be investigated and discussed, not in spite of media and political opposition to it, but because of that opposition. That is why I am writing a book about what happened before, during, and after the 2020 presidential election.
Read more at The Federalist.