President Donald Trump and many of his supporters argue that he is the victim of fraud, which allowed his opponent, Joe Biden, to proclaim victory. The allegations include the backdating of ballots, people voting twice, people casting ballots in drive-through voting centers, or, in the case of Nevada, individuals voting there from out of state. If there was widespread fraud, then why:
• Did Donald Trump win 72 million votes, or approximately 48% of the total count?
• Did Republicans win seats in the House and, possibly, hold onto the Senate when seemingly every poll predicted the Democrats would increase their majority in the House and take control of the Senate?
• Did Republicans win control of most state governments when the Democrats seemed poised to take control of several?
• Did Trump and Republicans seeking congressional seats do far better than the pollsters had anticipated?
• Did U.S. election security officials find no evidence of foreign meddling in the election?
• Did Republican and Democratic judges in Michigan, Texas, and other states throw out suits brought by the Trump administration and his supporters regarding alleged fraud?
• Have top election officials in every U.S. state – including both Democrats and Republicans – found virtually no instances of fraud?
• Would media personalities as far afield politically as Rachel Maddow, Chris Cuomo, Chris Wallace and Laura Ingraham urge Trump to concede the election?
I can see two possible answers. One is that America’s democratic system failed. Rather, there was a massive conspiracy involving tens of thousands of persons in both parties, in state governments, in the media, in polling agencies and in the nation’s intelligence agencies who got together to deny Trump the election. Trump able to overcome the odds and convince voters to come out in huge numbers. Ultimately, however, the conspirators succeeded in denying him a second term. The implication is that it is time to rethink the government created by the Founding Fathers, and dictatorship must replace democracy.
But there is another possibility. America’s democratic system worked. Many polls and political pundits foresaw a “blue wave,” in which Trump would lose by a significant margin, and Democrats expand their majority in the House of Representatives and capture the Senate. Instead, the election was close, with Trump winning a much larger portion of the electorate than anticipated. One would expect Trump’s fortunes to affect those down ballot, yet voters saw enough in the Republican Party they liked – or enough in the Democratic candidates they did not – to reduce the Democratic majority in the House. In the Senate, Democrats flipped far fewer seats than the polls and pundits expected; indeed, it is possible Republicans will hold onto the Upper House.
The conspiracy theorists, who unfortunately include many Republicans in Congress, will say that democracy failed. But the facts – not the alternative facts, but the facts – show that at the state level, individuals on both sides of the aisle are prepared to stand behind the government for which so many people have fought and died to protect.