Posted by Curt on 24 February, 2021 at 10:54 am. 5 comments already!


By Michael Anton

Recently, I appeared as a guest on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast. Sullivan is vociferously anti-Trump, so I expected us to disagree—which, naturally, we did. But I was surprised by the extent to which he insisted I assent to his assertion that the 2020 election was totally on the level. That is to say, I wasn’t surprised that Sullivan thinks it was; I was surprised by his evident yearning to hear me say so, too.

Which I could not do.

Sullivan badgered me on this at length before finally accusing me of being fixated on the topic, to which I responded, truthfully, that I was only talking about it because he asked. As far as I’m concerned, the 2020 election is well and truly over. I have, I said, “moved on.”

So I thought. Then I received two emails from a friendly acquaintance who is a recognized Republican expert on elections that suggested he, too, is troubled by my lack of belief. Then came two other data points, which I noticed only after the first draft this essay had been completed. Ramesh Ponnuru snarked (snark seems to be the go-to, indeed the only, device his in literary quiver) that one of the anomalies I cited in my most recent article in the Claremont Review of Books had been “debunked” by the partisan left-wing While I appreciate the insight into the sources from which National Review editors get their “facts” these days, the quote provided admits that the statistic I cited is, well, accurate. Ponurru naturally ignores all of the other points raised in my earlier article.

Jonathan Chait wrote yet another (his 12th?) article denouncing me, for this same sin of disbelief. Why did he bother? Is there even a remote chance that a single one of his New York magazine readers either read my article or encountered its argument? Or is he worried that the “narrative” of the election is so fragile that it needs to be shored up?

I wanted to move on, I really did. But when Left (Chait), center (Sullivan), faux-right anti-conservative ankle-biter (Ponnuru), and genuine, if establishment, Right (my correspondent) all agree that my lack of belief is a problem, I wondered why this should be so, and the following observations came to mind.

Let me begin by repeating something I said to Sullivan: I do not actively disbelieve in the outcome of the 2020 election. I do not assert that the election was stolen. I also do not believe the election was totally fair, “belief” being an affirmative mental state. I say only that I don’t know; I haven’t been convinced either way. One side tried to convince me and failed (at least so far). The other side has made no such attempt but instead mostly shouts in my face that I must believe. The latter effort, in addition to being aggravating and insulting, has been less effective.

The 2020 election came down to a narrower margin than the 2016 contest: fewer than 43,000 rather than 77,000 votes in just three states. In 2016, nothing fishy in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin—the states on which 2016 turned—was detected. Certainly nothing like:

  • Counting shutdowns in five states, in which one candidate was ahead, only to lose after the counting resumed;
  • “Found” tranches of ballots going overwhelmingly—sometimes exclusively—to one candidate, the eventual “winner”;
  • Sworn affidavits alleging the backdating of ballots;
  • Historically low rejection rates—as in, orders of magnitude lower—of mail-in ballots, suggesting that many obviously invalid ballots were accepted as genuine;
  • Mail-in and absentee ballots appearing without creases, raising the question of how they got into the envelopes required for their being mailed in;
  • Thousands upon thousands of ballots all marked for one presidential candidate without a single choice marked for any down-ballot candidate.
  • The absolute refusal to conduct signature audits—indeed, the discarding of many envelopes which alone make such audits possible—i.e., of the kind of recounts which are performed not merely to get the math right but to evaluate the validity of ballots;
  • Other statistical and historical anomalies too numerous to mention here.

All of which, and much more, did occur in 2020. Any one of these things would have caused Hillary Clinton to march into court in 2016 with an army of lawyers larger than the force Hannibal brought to Cannae.

Sullivan dismissed all of this because “Trump tried in court and lost.” End of story. He alleged with a straight face that Trump put on a serious effort run by serious election experts.

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