Everybody wins, including Louisianans, over the differing positions taken by the state’s Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy regarding whether to ratify immediately the 2020 Electoral College results.
That presidential and vice-presidential contest gave, respectively, Democrats former Vice Pres. Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris a narrow win, which particularly hinged on the vote in three of six closely-contested states that gave him a winning margin of fewer than 44,000 – just as Republican Pres. Donald Trump in 2016 had run up about the same electoral college totals where his win came from a margin in three of those six states of around 80,000. But having confidence in the 2020 results is more difficult, because of expanded fraud opportunities afforded by individual state decisions to change election parameters in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
With degraded election integrity, it’s axiomatic that more fraud occurred in 2020. The problem comes in being able to prove it might have affected the election’s outcome. States with laws or imposed regulations making it easier to commit fraud ran up large Biden wins, while those with less-degraded integrity featured the narrow margins that even if eliminating the improperly-validated ballots still likely would have gone Biden’s way.
But the fact is, we just can’t know, and with the lax standards prevalent in 2020, the country can have the least confidence that Biden won fairly than any president in several decades (probably since the 1960 election). Some senators want at the least to try to reduce the uncertainty a bit with a call for a panel, emulating the investigation subsequent to the 1876 election with its indisputably fraudulent activity.
Kennedy has signed on to this effort, where the commission would have ten days to review state election totals, predicated on Congress Wednesday rejecting the results as reviewed by the House last month as not “lawfully certified.” This would give Congress a chance to ratify something prior to the Jan. 20 inauguration date.
It’s an excellent idea in that this can at least demonstrate that American leaders take seriously elections integrity, which only can increase the public’s confidence – as nearly two-fifths of its saw the 2020 election as “rigged” – that, as imperfect as the increased number and size of loopholes potentially made the election, that government shows commitment to clean elections.
It’s also an ineffective idea to determine whether Democrats stole the election. Louisianans in particular know, given how electoral fraud occurs, how difficult it is to prove. In 1997, concerning the initial election of Democrat former Sen. Mary Landrieu by a certified total of 5,788 votes, it took months just to scratch the surface of the practices that went on that did result in votes later determined as fraudulent. Even without the obstruction by Senate Democrats that slowed and eventually scuttled the body’s investigation, at the pace it went years would have passed to discover enough fraud to overturn the result.
So, it’s not unreasonable that Cassidy tales a different view of the Wednesday vote. He has joined a few other GOP senators in declaring the election “over,” presumably meaning he won’t object to ratifying the results.
In a sense, Cassidy surrenders twice on this account. He does surrender to the notion that an election run not as perfectly as it should have will stand without commemorating it as such, but he also surrenders to the inevitability that, under the rules of the system, this kind of protest changes nothing. Simply, under the current rules of the system, Biden will win because, if enough fraud does exist to have handed him the victory as the rules alterations and anecdotes suggest, it would prove ruinous to the nation’s psyche to perform the investigation of voting irregularities for years on end necessary to prove enough fraud existed to invalidate the result.
This way, Louisiana’s senators’ preferences on this issue stand as a microcosm of the whole matter. We need the likes of Cassidy to remind us that, as imperfect as the system may be and that it may not produce just results every single time, it’s still really good and protracted conflict that has little chance of changing outcomes could harm it. At the same time, we need the likes of Kennedy to demonstrate that system vigilance, through public overseeing of outcomes, reminds us of its imperfections and that room for improvement always exists, lest the public loses either confidence in system outcomes or interest in those outcomes, both courses of which threaten to usher in systemic instability, if not followed by tyranny.
The sadness of the 2020 election, because for the first time in decades we reasonably can say there is a non-trivial chance that voter fraud tipped the outcome, comes from the separate no-win reactions to it: protest that may damage confidence the system, and acquiescence that may do the same in how the public views leaders seen as compliant, if not corrupt. Optimism stems from it that together the no-win situations cancel to produce a kind of victory: leaders who show they stay on guard to protect the republic without damaging it in the process.