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Donald Trump is washed up. A has-been. Everyone hates him, and he has no future. That’s what the press is constantly telling us.
So why are the Democrats still afraid of him?
According to the press narrative, Trump suffered a crushing electoral defeat. Democrats are firmly in charge of the White House and Congress. America is returning to normalcy, with the reassuring (if sometimes a bit confused) face of President Biden beaming over all of us like a benevolent grandpa. We’re ready to move on.
That’s the story, but the Democrats’ actions give it the lie.
In a nation returning to “normalcy,” does Congress cower behind armed troops and 12-foot fences? Does a party securely in control try to enlist tech firms and media to snuff out voices of opposition?
In a normal America, does a defeated presidential incumbent pose such a threat to the party in power that he must be impeached after leaving office, to ensure he doesn’t win back the White House in four years?
That’s where we are. The Democrats aren’t acting like a party secure in its position; they’re acting nervous and insecure and lashing out at any perceived threat.
Bush was ineligible for future office after he was beaten by Bill Clinton, even though Clinton failed to win a majority of the vote.
Yet Democrats have made quite plain that the purpose of this after-hours impeachment of a former president is to ensure Trump doesn’t rise from the political grave and run again in four years.
Are they crazy? Well, maybe not entirely.
As political pollster Rasmussen tweeted Wednesday, a lot of voters agree with Trump that the election process in America is deeply flawed: “Almost half of ALL VOTERS are concerned about US election integrity: – President Trump left office w/ a job approval of 51%. – 47% of ALL VOTERS believe there was election fraud in Nov 2020. – 45% of ALL VOTERS want a debate on election integrity.”
(And yes, despite all the media attacks and the hysteria over an “insurrection” in the Capitol, Trump’s final approval rating in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll was 51 percent. Meanwhile, Biden’s first-day approval rating in the same poll was 48 percent.)
The political class keeps trying to treat Trump’s complaints about American elections as something beyond the pale, so out of order that simply making those charges constitutes an impeachable offense, and maybe some kind of “incitement.” But nearly half of voters agree with Trump that there’s a problem.
Prior to the election, US media, including such large organs as The New York Times and USA Today, were filled with concerns about electronic voting machines and fraud. In a December 2019 letter to voting-machine maker Dominion Voting Systems, Democratic Sens.
Mark Pocan warned about machines “switching votes” and other problems that “threaten the integrity of our election.” Does anyone doubt that if Trump had won, Democrats would be screaming fraud, as they did in 2001, 2004 and especially 2016?
There are two lessons here: One, Democrats aren’t nearly as secure as they pretend. In many ways, their actions reek of weakness and fear, not strength and security. No matter how they bluster, they’re afraid that Donald Trump, like some horror-movie monster, will return from the grave for a sequel. And that’s a movie they don’t want to see, because they fear Trump represents the views of enough Americans to pose a genuine threat.
Two, the mere existence of concerns about election integrity by a near-majority of Americans, however justified, is a disaster. In a democracy, losers have to accept that the winners won fair and square. But for that to happen the losers have to believe the system is fair. Most don’t.
A normal, secure, sensible Congress would be moving to make sure voting is trustworthy, installing safeguards to reassure those with doubts. But we don’t have a normal, secure, sensible Congress. That’s too bad for everybody.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee.