As a tumultuous 2021 draws to a close, it is interesting to note how the controversies and crises that have defined the political landscape in the United States have further deepened the partisan divide.
The governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic has become a largely Left-Right issue, with constant fear-mongering and governmental mandates on vaccines, testing, and masks pushed largely by Democratic government officials and supported—sheeplike—by Democratic constituencies. Republican officials who mostly resisted the over-hyped hysteria and draconian measures were roundly vilified, but have ultimately been vindicated in their approach of balancing common-sense measures to stem the worst effects of COVID-19 with policies designed to protect the economic, social, and mental wellbeing of their constituents.
The Biden Administration’s disastrous policies toward such issues as illegal immigration, the Afghanistan withdrawal, U.S. energy independence, and the economy have led to a massive loss of support from Republicans and independents, but most polls indicate that upwards of three-quarters of Democrats still approve or strongly approve of Biden’s job performance. A critical problem for Democrats, however, is that elections cannot be won on the basis of these loyal Democratic voters alone.
Although Biden entered office with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, it was the thinnest of majorities. And while Democrats and the media continue to make much of the 81 million votes Biden is said to have received in the 2020 election, the continuing controversies about electoral integrity undermine any supposed mandate the Democrats try to claim for their radical agenda.
That has not stopped Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress from pushing forward—usually unsuccessfully—on legislation designed to bring about the Left’s priorities in everything from amnesty for illegals to creating an ever-larger, permanent class of Americans dependent on government largess. There are signs that among some traditional Democratic constituencies support for these policies is weakening. This is especially true in the case of minority voters who appear to be voting less and less as reliable constituencies for the Democratic Party and more and more as independent consumers of their own interests; interests which often do not align with the priorities of the left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Despite the overwhelming advantage that the Democratic Party enjoys from most of the mainstream media and social media platforms, it has been unable to persuade a majority of Americans to endorse climate change, systemic racism, or widespread police brutality as major concerns. Yet Democrats are stuck on policies designed to address these and similar issues. Occasional voices from moderate Democrats warning that this stubborn policy recalcitrance is likely to lead to massive Democratic electoral losses go largely unheeded.
Rather than shifting priorities to broaden its appeal to the existing electorate, it appears that the Left has determined simply to find new voters. This is done, of course, by broadening the franchise in creative and problematic ways. Encouraging illegal immigration while expanding governmental welfare supports for illegal immigrants is guaranteed to expand the permanent underclass dependent on the social welfare programs that are the hallmark of the Left. The fact that these illegal immigrants are not yet citizens is barely a bump in the road: wholesale amnesty for illegal aliens as a stepping stone to citizenship remains a legislative priority. Democratic municipalities are already extending the franchise to non-citizens; and of course efforts continue to undermine electoral integrity through the elimination of voter ID requirements and expanding mail-in ballots and absentee voting while eliminating protections against the many possible abuses of these devices.
Whatever one thinks about whether the 2020 presidential election was fraudulently decided, it is certain that a number of questionable policies were implemented in enough battleground states that produced very slight margins of victory for Joe Biden, leading ultimately to his winning of the presidency.
Audits of the votes in many of these states have produced clear indications of irregularities, and although the number of votes that did not comply with existing legal requirements exceeded Joe Biden’s margin of victory, it has been impossible to prove that these irregularities clearly favored Biden. Many of the questionable policies such as mail-in ballots sent to all registered voters, not requiring signatures or signature matches, ballot harvesting, and unsecured ballot drop boxes were justified as necessary to guarantee voter access during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the targeted intervention of nearly $500 million from Facebook (sorry, Meta Platforms) CEO Mark Zuckerberg resulted in a “highly coordinated and privately funded ‘shadow campaign’ for Joe Biden that took place within the formal structure of the election system itself,” funding mostly left-wing organizations that launched an “historically unprecedented takeover of government election offices.”
Leaving aside the still somewhat prevalent—at least in some segments of the population—notion that the 2020 election should be overturned because of the many legal and ethical problems that surfaced, it is important to recognize the tremendous work that has been done at the state level to find legislative solutions to the many questionable practices that were widespread during the 2020 election. Legislation designed in one way or another to advance electoral integrity has been introduced in 49 states, with successful legislation passed in critical states like Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
In response to these legislative successes at the state level, Democrats in Congress have advanced several federal bills designed to make the methods that worked so well for them in 2020 nationwide and permanent. In the words of Nsé Ufot, CEO of the Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project, “If there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re f—ed.”
The latest such attempt to pass the House of Representatives on a purely partisan vote, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, is really a subterfuge designed to win sufficient support in the Senate without explicitly calling for the elimination of state laws supporting such measures as voter ID, voter roll clean-up, making ballot harvesting illegal, and criminal penalties for election officials who engage in electoral malfeasance. Rather, the proposed legislation would essentially transfer to the U.S. Justice Department all power for determining when states or localities fail to advance voting rights in a manner that could be deemed discriminatory under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Because the Left has long argued that laws requiring voters to show identification to register or vote are racist and discriminatory (an incredibly patronizing and cynical argument), it is easy to see how state legislative attempts to ensure electoral integrity through such measures would easily place those states under the scrutiny and control of the Justice Department. This legislation is not likely to win passage in the Senate, because it would not only require every Democratic senators’ vote, it would also require the vote of at least ten Republican senators to avoid a filibuster. Attempts to eliminate the filibuster to secure passage do not even have sufficient Democratic support.
The absurdDemocratic cant is that they are the party of electoral integrity through their relentless efforts to expand the suffrage to the disenfranchised, and that they are just pushing back on Republicans who will stop at nothing to make it harder for people of color to vote. With the help of the mainstream media, every Republican attempt to strengthen the integrity of elections is portrayed as both racist and insurrectionist. Indeed news stories continue to parrot the same line: that Republican efforts amount to a “slow-motion insurrection.”
This label of “insurrection” is slapped onto any Republican legislative proposal intended to secure free and fair elections in an effort to tie it to the supposedly “violent insurrection” that took place in the nation’s capital on January 6. (It goes without saying that nothing approaching an insurrection occurred, and details are now emerging that almost all of the violence was committed by law enforcement against protestors.) The success of this propaganda campaign would be awe-inspiring if it were not so sinister.
Polls indicate overwhelming support—across party, racial, and ethnic lines—for the common-sense measures contained in most Republican electoral integrity initiatives, but Democrats are no doubt hoping that tethering these initiatives to the “January 6-violent insurrection-disinformation campaign” will undermine that support.
Not since the election of 1860 has there been such an unbridgeable divide manifested in the election of the president. Many others have cataloged the extraordinary measures undertaken to prevent Donald Trump from being elected, remaining as, or being reelected as president; there is no need to revisit those measures here. Trump, in many ways, is the face of, but certainly not fully the cause of, the deep partisan schism in this country. Those who most vociferously opposed his presidency have proven themselves willing to stop at nothing to remove him from power, because they clearly see their own power and prestige threatened by Trump and what he represents.
When no consensus exists on the principles that once defined our republic, free and fair elections become problematic. Abraham Lincoln famously said “that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets.”
A majority of Americans have their doubts about whether the presidential election of 2020 was “fairly and constitutionally decided,” but there has been no attempt—organized or otherwise—to appeal to bullets. Americans understand at some fundamental level that they have been bequeathed an incredible gift: to live in a nation where political power is transferred peacefully to opposing partisans as the result of free elections. The election of 2020 tested that understanding, but concerns over possible election fraud did not lead to insurrection or rebellion. Rather, Americans continue to support the kind of common-sense measures that would help to ensure free and fair elections in 2022, 2024, and beyond.
If Democrats are successful in their campaign of disinformation, however, and continue labeling those who have concerns about the questionable electoral practices employed in 2020 as unpatriotic insurrectionists who wish to destroy democracy and successfully enshrine those questionable practices permanently into federal law, we may see a fundamental shift in American attitudes about their cherished electoral system. It is not entirely clear what will happen when a significant portion of the electorate believes that a free and fair election is no longer possible because the system is permanently rigged to keep the ruling party in power.
The question that may then arise is whether it will even be possible to decide elections peacefully through ballots, or whether bullets will be the last resort—as they were in 1860. When there is in fact no fundamental ground upon which the two sides of our deepening partisan divide can agree, it is hard to see how this conclusion will be avoided.