As one who has been involved in the political process as a writer and occasional participant for more than half a century, I have always tried to distinguish between politics and political theater, especially since most political theater is so badly written, produced and acted that it is nauseating to behold. In the end, one is inclined to follow the example of a great nineteenth-century wild west impresario and, in the spirit of “Buffalo Bill” Cody, let the chips fall where they may.
The buffalo chips fell fast and thick in the 2020 election and its litigious aftermath. Real issues and principles were at stake in the election itself. But the outlandish personal behavior of both presidential candidates made it difficult for voters to focus on either issues or principles.
One candidate spent most of the campaign hiding in his basement and was often less than lucid when his handlers allowed him a few brief, blinking moments of sunlight, fielding a few softball questions from hand-picked reporters. The other candidate kept out of the basement and never stopped talking. But his ego, inattention to detail, and belief that he could win in 2020 by delivering a carbon copy of his 2016 campaign proved that he, too, had drifted out of touch with reality. His boorish, bullying performance in the first presidential debate and his pouting withdrawal from the scheduled second debate amounted to self-inflicted wounds. When he came to his senses and appeared in the final debate, he outperformed his opponent by a mile, but by then, it was probably too little, too late.
Many months ago, in commentary published elsewhere, I observed that the 2020 presidential victory, as happened in 2016, would go to the candidate most voters concluded was the less objectionable of two very unsatisfactory choices, i.e., the candidate that succeeded in making his opponent—rather than himself—the issue. Running as an outsider against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Donald Trump did just that. Both candidates tried to do it in 2020, but only one of them succeeded. Which is why when the Electoral College votes this Monday, it will almost certainly make an old political hack the next President of the United States. As one of the millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump, I am not overjoyed at this prospect. But I don’t think it’s the end of the world either.
Indeed, once they got past the presidential race on the ballot, the voters tended to break center-right rather than center-left. They reduced Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to a historic low, didn’t deliver the “Blue Tide” we were told would sweep the Senate, and improved the GOP’s already dominant position in state legislatures across the country. They also rejected numerous “progressive” initiatives, even in leftist strongholds like California.
I have no doubt that ballot fraud occurred on election day. It always does. Even more so with the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots that flooded the system in the weeks before the physical vote. The Democrats have a long history of voter fraud that is a matter of historical record. And because they have come to rely increasingly on bloc votes in corrupt inner-city wards in places like Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Atlanta, they profit from it. But the problem with this kind of fraudulent voting is that it is much easier to prevent than to prove after the fact.
When rigorous ID requirements, voter roll scrutiny, signature vetting and the like are authorized and implemented, they can prevent voting fraud or substantially reduce it. Where such measures were not in place or applied, it is very difficult to prove voter fraud after the fact in a volume sufficient to reverse the outcome of the election. It’s easy to point to suspicious appearances and a climate of corruption. It’s a lot harder, vote-by-vote, to successfully prove enough individual ballots illegal to change the electoral outcome.
This is why there was little likelihood that the Supreme Court would inject itself into the election results in a way that could change the outcome.
And this brings us back to politics versus political theater. What we have witnessed in recent weeks has been more theatrical than political, much of it rather bad performance art at that.
The last dog is about to bark and the caravan will move on. As I’ve said to many of my Democratic friends, now it’s their turn to be embarrassed for the next four years.
Aram Bakshian Jr. served as an aide to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan and has been widely published here and overseas on politics, history, gastronomy and the arts.