Comment Of The Day: “On ‘Decertification,’ Everybody’s Wrong (Or Lying)…”

Ethics Alarms is about ethics, not politics, but politics, especially in recent years, has increasingly been about the defining and flagging of unethical conduct. Typically elections have been an area in which both parties revel in accusing each other of dishonest and unethical conduct that they also engage in when it suits their needs; we recently saw, for example, the report on Democrats using “dark money” in the 2020 election cycle after condemning Republicans for their lack of transparency regarding campaign contributions, and either party climbing up on a metaphorical high horse over gerrymandering is laughable.

The accusations over the 2020 Presidential election are materially different, in part because 95% of the news media has taken a side the constitutes aggressive partisan activism: the claim that suspicions about the fairness and legitimacy of the vote count—in the absence of many safeguards that previous elections had made standard practice—were “disproven” and “groundless.” The use of ballot drop boxes, for example, raise the immediate specter of voter fraud, and one that is difficult to dispel. Did the actual voter drop off the ballot? Did that voter mark the ballot with his or her name on it? How secure is the box against tampering? The existence of such dubious devices in any close election guarantees public distrust, and should. Yet the news media is pushing the left’s false narrative that laws that ban drop-off boxes are “voter suppression.”

Here is Null Pointer on the matter, in the Comment of the Day on the post, “On ‘Decertification,’ Everybody’s Wrong (Or Lying)…”

One tip before you read: what is being described regarding elections is the condition Ethics Alarms dubs “Bizarro World Ethics.”


Let’s just look a some truths about the 2020 election and see if we cannot deduce what might be going on.

Truth #1: The Democrats got up to shenanigans in the 2020 election, and if the exact nature of those shenanigans were laid out to the people, the people would probably nearly unanimously agree the shenanigans amounted to cheating. The people would not unanimously ADMIT it was cheating, but they would know. The Democrats do not want the people on the left to know that they engaged in behavior that essentially amounts to cheating.

Truth #2: The election is not going to be undone. It was never going to be undone. Everyone who isn’t a complete moron knows it cannot be undone. Everyone who knows it cannot be undone is not going to admit that they know it cannot be undone, however, because a lot of people hate the Democrats and like to piss the Democrats off. Polling is useless.

Truth #3: The Democrats cheat. The Democrats have always cheated, at least at the regional level. Everyone on the right knows the Democrats cheat. Everyone on the left thinks a majority of people agree with them about everything, rendering cheating unnecessary. The people on the left would be shocked to find out that a huge percentage of the population does not agree with them.

Truth #4: The Republicans let the Democrats cheat. The Republicans have always let the Democrats cheat because political calculations produced an equation that said it was more politically expedient to let the Democrats cheat than to call them on it. The Democrats have escalated their cheating over time because they can. The Democrats accuse everyone else of cheating to keep the political calculations in their favor by confusing their base.

So, you have one of these “I know what you’re doing, you know what you’re doing, you know I know what you’re doing, I know you know I know what you’re doing,” situations. The question for the politicians has not been, “Who is doing what?” The question for the politicians has been “How long can we get away with it before riots start?” That question has now been answered. 2020. That was when the riots started. The riots started because Trump ran his mouth.

Now, we can debate why Trump ran his mouth. We can debate whether he knew what would happen. We can debate his motives. There are 3 basic questions you have to answer to analyze Trump’s motives:

1. Did he really think the election was rigged?

2. Did he think his accusations would overturn the election?

3. Did he think his rhetoric would cause riots?

I think I know the answers to those questions: yes, no and yes. This an ethics blog, so we can debate the ethics of each question. My analysis is that the ethics seem rather murky, because the ethics were always murky. Politicians are not ethical people. Trying to separate each individual unethical thing out and analyze it is very difficult because the rest of the unethical context is important to understanding each individual piece of unethicalness.

At the end of the day, though, I think the root cause of all this was not Trump. Trump did his Trumpy Trumpishness, and blew a hole in the band-aids and duct tape that was our election system, but he didn’t stick the band-aids and duct tape there in the first place. The real problem is that no one seems to want to replace the band-aids and duct tape with a brick wall. There always should have been a brick wall. This shouldn’t even BE a question. U.S. elections should be decided by the vote of the people, not by who can rig the election best.

If people don’t want people like Trump kicking holes in the wall they should build better, more ethical walls, not complain when the wall collapses.

If my answers to the questions are correct, then Trump isn’t playing 4-D chess here. He wants the election systems made secure. He doesn’t care what trouble he stirs up. He is using an ends justify the means rationalization, and I think a lot of people on the right agree with him. Trump is a utilitarian tool of the people. The people wanted the system blown up, so they voted an explosive into office. Trump did what his voters wanted, and blew stuff up. His actions are simultaneously ethical and unethical at the same time. It is ethical to do what your voters voted for. It is unethical to to instigate riots, even if what your voters wanted was riots. He should have found a more ethical way to do his voters bidding.

8 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “On ‘Decertification,’ Everybody’s Wrong (Or Lying)…”

  1. Great comment, NP – very much worth the COTD designation.

    The only thing I disagree with here: I think you’re giving Trump more credit than he deserves. I think the silly sonofabitch actually BELIEVED – and still does believe – that there was and is a way for the election to be overturned and return him to the Oval Office.

    In other words, I think he’s delusional, at least on this issue.

    2024 is going to be a shitshow. The Dems have nothing on the bench. There’s some talent on the Republican bench, but Trump is likely to employ his usual scorched-earth tactics against them – unless someone manages to convince him that he can do a lot more good by not running than he can by taking another stab at it. Unfortunately, I suspect he’s far too much of a narcissist for that to happen.

    Hilary has reportedly been kicking the tires lately. A Trump-Clinton rematch might be a darkly hilarious thing to watch, even though it would also probably be the swan song of the American Republic.

    • I agree, AIM, but I am certain that he has been misinformed by incompetent or malevolent advisors. Trump is at fault for having bad ones, but part of the sabotage he experienced as President was the refusal of the best people in Washington, and the best legal minds anywhere to help an elected President who had been made a pariah. The idea that the election could be over-turned is no more wacky than the positions of Richard Painter, a law professor and ethicist who worked in the Bush White House, as he insisted that Trump could and should be impeached before he took office….and the news media loved those ideas. Trump relies on lawyers, and can’t tell good from bad. Remember, he retained Michael Cohen.

      • Fair points, Jack – at least at the start. By now, though, he’s certainly had access to enough quality legal minds to realize that particular position is untenable. Perhaps I’m wrong and this is all nothing but cynical grandstanding, but he still seems to believe it.

        • Sure he believes it. Trump will always believe whatever “authority” that backs up what he finds it convenient to believe. And I’m not sure he does have access: look what happened to the lawyers he first hired to defend him in the impeachment debacle.

  2. I think the answers to the questions are yes, yes, no.

    At no point has he ever encouraged or approved violence, but I believe he thinks the election should’ve been overturned, based on the shenanigans we saw in several states. I think his throwing Pence under the bus is very telling in that regard.

    I’m not entirely certain he wins even in an accurate, unmolested by democrats vote tally, but all of it SHOULD have been looked at.

    I believe certification should have been delayed pending an accurate count, with all the rancor and wailing and gnashing of teeth that goes with it.

    Yes, the republicans were idiots in allowing the system to be rigged, but they’ve been idiots since the Clinton era, and arguably before that.

    But to let our system be trashed so everybody in the political class can wink wink nod nod each other all the way to Germany’s 1933 elections, Venezuela’s election of Hugo Chavez, or the beginnings of Trudeau’s Soviet Canada is just insane.

    The US is a centrist country in terms of its views on how it wishes to be governed. If the people actually knew what was going on, they’d act accordingly. Look at recent events in Virginia. Only the Republicans can force it.
    Hell, look at Trumps election. I honestly think it was Republican voters being sick of leadership that did nothing that got him the nomination, and traditional Democrats (i.e. not Soviet Marxists that run the party) that got him elected.

    2024 will be interesting.

    • THAT’s an understatement!

      The problem also is that Trump was almost certainly going to be the loser in the popular vote. I can’t imagine a decision that gave the election to Trump after votes in four close states were thrown out with Biden still being millions of votes ahead nationwide being accepted after the caterwauling about the 2000 and 2016 elections. This is one reason why Nixon, in his finest hour, refused to challenge the 1960 election, where cheating by Democrats was rampant.

      • Agree that Trump is probably not going to turn the electoral college no matter what, and of course the popular vote in total doesn’t matter.

        The integrity of the system we use matters, and that system is that the states elect the President.

        I’m aware that Nixon conceded in a similar circumstance, I view it as wrong then as it is now.

        The crux of the entire comment is that the system is broken and “we all know it” (and, when will it matter enough to the people before the people “do something”)

        Jan 6 wasn’t a riot. The “mostly peaceful protests” were riots.

        Jan 6 is the other side of the TDS coin, because even people that supported Trump while he was in office don’t want him back (while he does have his fan base, I don’t truly think he has enough adherents to get another nomination – unless Repubicans are stupid enough to put another Mitt Romney up – and they are, but they can’t be THAT stupid, can they? Please don’t answer that…), so it’s most closely viewed as part of the Trump circus, not a serious commentary on the current state of election affairs.

        So while most people think our election system is broken, only people that closely follow politics know how truly broken it is.

        Every time we let it slide “for the good of the country” it remains tucked in the shadows.

        At what point is it serious enough to blow it up and draw the attention to it that it deserves?

        Let’s say the next one would flip the election/electoral college, and the winner didn’t gain the popular vote?

        Do New York and California get to decide what the rest of the states have to live with? Population wise, we’ll never beat them, and those states are a fiasco.

        States rights matter or they don’t. Integrity matters, or it doesn’t. Ethics matter, or they don’t.

        Truth should not be subject to expediency. People should know exactly what they’re getting.

        I don’t think Trump would’ve won at this point, having followed events reasonably well, but I also don’t really know for sure, do I?

        With what’s at stake, that’s not a statement any of us should have to make.

        • “I don’t think Trump would’ve won at this point, having followed events reasonably well, but I also don’t really know for sure, do I? With what’s at stake, that’s not a statement any of us should have to make.”

          Bingo. Absolutely. But the popular vote does matter. If the PV started to consistently be swamped by the Electoral College, the drum-beat for a Constitutional Amendment would become deafening, and maybe even turn violent. An occasional result like 1876, 2000 or 2016 can be written off as a fluke within a good system where the good outweighs the bad, but it it became routine, or was used to overturn a result that was already “in the books,” that would be disastrous.

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