In 1994, a body known as the Inter-Parliamentary Council unanimously adopted a Declaration of Criteria for Free and Fair Elections. While most Americans take for granted that our electoral system meets the standard for “free and fair” elections, few have reflected on the international standards that define the term. Beginning with the 2016 election, the norms have gradually eroded as a new class of bureaucrats and journalists gulp the get-Trump Kool-Aid.
The decline of American election integrity may have begun in August 2016, when the New York Times instructed fellow journalists that Trump was so “dangerous” that:
. . . you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.
August 2016, coincidentally, was the first full month of the FBI’s active involvement in the Russian collusion hoax.
Shortly after the election, the Times called on journalists to form a “united front” against Trump to counter him.
“Bias” is the wrong word for what has happened to the media in the Trump era. The legacy media now sees stopping Trump, not reporting facts, as its mission.
This corruption spread to the federal bureaucracy as the Department of Justice, the FBI, and other agencies quickly took the same approach. FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her adulterous lover, Peter Strzok, texted what so many in government felt: Donald Trump must be stopped at all costs.
To paraphrase a remark from the Vietnam War, for the get-Trump movement, it has become necessary to destroy democracy in order to “save” it. Consider these standards articulated by the Inter-Parliamentary Council and ask yourself if the 2020 election meets international criteria:
1) “Every candidate for election and every political party shall have an equal opportunity of access to the media, particularly the mass communications media, in order to put forward their political views . . . . [Governments should ensure] That parties and candidates are free to communicate their views to the electorate, and that they enjoy equality of access to State and public-service media . . . That the necessary steps are taken to guarantee non-partisan coverage in State and public-service media.”
While American corporate media are theoretically in private hands, in practice the monopolistic power and anti-competitive coordination could not happen without the tacit blessing of the Justice Department attorneys charged with enforcing antitrust laws.
Virtually all media outlets are now in the hands of just a few corporations that overwhelmingly favor candidate Biden over Trump. Seventy percent of digital ad spending goes to Google, Facebook, or Amazon. When an outlet such as the Federalist displeases Google, it cancels ad revenues or throttles back appearances in search results. That gives Google the power of life and death over most independent platforms for political speech.
After 2016, tech giants were very explicit. They saw the election of Trump as a failure to leverage their power to guide the election result and vowed not to let it happen again. While some efforts are barely disguised as “preventing misinformation,” the real motivation is clear from the very different treatment given to stories that benefit Trump versus stories that benefit Biden.
Anonymously-sourced anti-Trump stories such as the Atlantic’s “losers and suckers” piece and the New York Times’ story on Trump’s tax returns, are not only allowed but clearly amplified by the tech industry. In contrast, the recent New York Post articles, which provide original emails and on-the-record sources, are brazenly censored. It only seems like hypocrisy until you understand that the tech companies see stopping Trump as their duty.
2) “[N]o candidate or political party shall engage in violence.”
As The Federalist’s Joy Pullman notes, Black Lives Matter can be linked to up to 95 percent of the terrifying 2020 U.S. riots that caused deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. BLM has raised huge sums of money which it rerouted to ACT-Blue, a progressive fundraising site that raises money for Democratic candidates.
Until the strategy appeared to be backfiring, it was made clear that the riots were intended as an electoral strategy to intimidate nonconforming political speech and voting. Democrats were quick to blame Trump’s “rhetoric” for causing the riots which sent the clear signal that American voters would “cause” even more violence by voting for him.
3) “Every candidate and political party competing in an election shall accept the outcome of a free and fair election.”
Hillary Clinton not only failed to accept the results of the 2016 election, she has preemptively rejected the legitimacy of a potential Trump 2020 victory and urged Biden to reject anything short of a victory. “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances,” she said, in blatant violation of this standard, “because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.” Indeed, Biden has already hired an army of lawyers to continue the fight if he loses at the ballot box.
4) “Countries should take the necessary legislative steps and other measures . . . to . . . ensure the separation of party and State, and establish the conditions for competition in legislative elections on an equitable basis.”
The bias within the federal government is palpable. Clearly, the FBI has obstructed an accounting for the spying and meddling in the 2016 election.
But beyond that, we’ve recently learned that the FBI withheld key emails during the impeachment process that would have further justified Trump’s legitimate concerns over the Biden family’s shenanigans in the Ukraine. The government also selectively enforces election law (complaints over Clinton’s 2016 campaign violations continued to be ignored by the FEC). And, as I’ve written before, the Justice Department routinely ignores any violation of law that might harm its allies in the Democratic party.
5) “Authorities should ensure that the ballot is conducted so as to avoid fraud or other illegality, that the security and the integrity of the process is maintained, and that ballot counting is undertaken by trained personnel, subject to monitoring and/or impartial verification.”
The 2020 election is characterized by significant relaxation of measures used to prevent election fraud. While the official media line is that election fraud is rare or non-existent, this year’s contests already have been marred by several examples of it. The Heritage Election Fraud Database showcases a sampling of 1,300 instances of election fraud. Lax laws permitting little or no identification to vote and “ballot harvesting” likely do not meet international standards for ballot security.
Like an immune system killing a victim by overreacting to the Spanish flu, the get-Trump movement is in the process of doing something similar to our democratic traditions and norms. You can’t have a truly free and fair election if the media and government all conspire to thwart a candidate. Whatever harm they imagine Trump will do in his second term, these do-gooders have already inflicted vastly more damage on democracy.
One way or another, Trump will be gone soon enough. But the American norms and traditions ensuring free and fair elections, broken by an out of control get-Trump movement, likely will remain broken for years to come. The deranged effort to get-Trump permanently undermined the credibility of the media, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the intelligence community—all of which don’t appear poised to return to an apolitical footing anytime soon.