John Locke Update / Research Brief

Looking on the bright side: a 2020 election dialogue

posted on in Civil Society, Law & Regulation, Legal Update
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I’ve been concerned about the future of the Republic for several years, and my level of anxiety increased steadily throughout the summer as each morning brought news of more violent protests in cities across the country and as the Democrats pursued their relentless attack on state election laws (see links below). As I looked at the election returns on the morning of November 4, however, I suddenly felt much better. Here’s how I explained it to a friend:

If Trump loses, as seems likely, it may dampen the polarization and anger that’s been fueling street violence and political extremism. And if, as also seems likely, the Republicans continue to control the Senate, it will mean the Democrats can’t do the things that were keeping me up at night, like packing the Supreme Court and granting statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Even better, if the Democrats have any sense they’ll recognize the overall election results for what they are: a decisive repudiation of many of their recent idiocies, including their embrace of identity politics and socialism.

Best of all — so far at least — there’s been very little violence. I suspect that’s partly because the outcome is still in doubt, but my hope is that, regardless of the ultimate outcome, by the time all the votes are counted and all the lawsuits are resolved, the whole thing will feel so boring and anticlimactic that no one will bother turning out for violent protests.

There are downsides, of course, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Under a Biden administration the military/intelligence/policy establishment will presumably be back in charge, which will mean more American soldiers fighting and dying in foreign countries, more foreigners fighting and dying in conflicts within their own countries and in conflicts with their neighbors, and more refugees suffering, dying, and disrupting the countries into which they flow. (One of the things I really did like about Trump was the fact that, unlike every other president in recent years, he didn’t initiate any new military adventures.) And I wonder if the recent improvement in relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors will continue under a Biden administration. Still, all in all, it seems like a very satisfactory outcome, and I’m feeling considerably relieved.

My friend, a staunch Trump supporter, was appalled:

Sorry, but that is a terrible take. You seem to be saying it is a good idea to cave to the mob out of fear of the mob and that it is a good thing to let Biden win despite the fact that he used the apparatus of the state against his political enemy through SpyGate and the Russia Hoax and despite all the media suppression tactics employed by newsrooms, Big Tech, and lying Congress rats. Now we’ll never see justice done there. Furthermore, the reason you’re not seeing violence in the streets is because the candidate of the mob won. And yet it was Trumpers who were going to be blamed for violence in the streets, if he lost.

In response, I began by saying:

I no longer have much confidence in my ability to predict how a presidential candidate will perform once he gets into office. Bush and Obama both did much worse than I had expected, and Trump did much better. In addition to the foreign policy achievements I mentioned in my original message, he did a terrific job with judicial appointments, attempted to reverse the worst of Obama’s over-reaching executive orders, and imposed some restraint on the growth of the regulatory state. In short, like you, I would prefer a second Trump administration to one with Joe Biden at its head.

There’s no reason, however, not to be happy about a positive development just because it happened as a result of something one is otherwise unhappy about. So, if a Biden win turns out to mean less polarization and less violence, then, yes, I’ll be glad about that. But that’s a far cry from endorsing the ideas you attribute to me, however. For the record, I think it’s generally a bad idea to cave to the mob; I think it would be a bad thing if Biden is allowed to win without making sure he actually received a majority of the legitimately cast votes in the various swing states; and I am quite hopeful that we will eventually see at least a modicum of justice done with regard to all the lies, corruption, and dirty tricks.

 Because, like me, my friend is a great admirer of the philosopher Karl Popper, I elaborated on the importance of pursuing justice with regard to election tampering in particular:

All summer long I’ve been horrified by the Democrats’ well-orchestrated, national campaign to persuade judges and administrative officers to changes to duly enacted state election laws. Those changes have probably enabled them to earn some undeserved victories, they may enable them to win some more, and they have undoubtedly played some sort of a role in outcome of the presidential race, even if that role turns out not to be decisive. Worst of all, those changes have had the entirely predictable effect of undermining public confidence in the integrity of the election process.

For the good of the country, therefore, I am hoping and praying the Republicans will continue to aggressively challenge the Democrat’s election tampering until there is a final judicial ruling on the merits in all the important cases. It’s possible one or more of those cases will be resolved in a way that changes the outcome before the electors vote on December 14, but that’s not the main reason why the Republicans need to follow through even after the winner is inaugurated in January. They need to follow through to ensure that this kind of widespread election tampering can’t happen again.

As Popper points out, “Democracy is the only known form of government which makes it possible to get rid of a bad government without bloodshed.” If the Democrats get away with what they tried to do this year, a lot of people are going to feel our democratic institutions no longer provide a reliable way for them to do that, with potentially dire consequences.

I concluded by noting that the contrast between Trump supporters and what he called “the mob” was a big part of why I was feeling to good:

A week ago I was just as angry and pessimistic as you, and to be honest I don’t really know why I feel so much better now. If you take into consideration all the candidates and referenda up and down the ballots, a solid majority of Americans refused to vote the way the political, academic, media, and business elites wanted them to vote despite all the lies and suppression and dirty tricks, which is no doubt part of the reason for my improved mood.

I suspect, however, that an even more important factor in changing my mind has been how confident Trump’s supporters always look and how much fun they always seem to be having — even this group of supporters who are protesting what they believe is a well-orchestrated attempt to steal their well-earned victory in the presidential race:

They’re not smashing windows and setting cars and buildings on fire; they’re dancing in the street! They’re not cast down; they’re full of confidence and hope. Whatever the outcome at the presidential level, I just have a feeling this election is going to be a turning point for the better. Even if the elites are foolish enough to try, I don’t think they’re going to be able to denigrate those people and push them around anymore.


For more information, see:

Playing with Fire: Democrats’ Reckless Attack on State Election Laws

Fake news: AP says Republicans disrupting election in N.C.

What does an unsigned Supreme Court opinion from 2006 have to do with absentee voting in North Carolina?The left’s long war on the Constitution

 The Open Society and Its (New) Enemies, Part 1

The Open Society and Its (New) Enemies, Part 2

Research identifies benefits of spending more on police, not defunding it

The Constitution and Its Enemies

Remembering World War I

Jon Guze is Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over 20 years. He received a J.D., with honors, from Duke Law School in… ...

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