Thomas Knapp: Light at the End of the ‘Big Lie’ Tunnel?

“Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup,” Barton Gellman writes at The Atlantic. “It will rely on subversion more than violence …. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024.”

There’s nothing new about claims that an election was stolen, or is about to be. The phenomenon stretches back into the 19th century —  most famously the 1876 presidential election, which was arguably stolen from Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on behalf of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.

Of the six presidential elections since 2000, at least four have generated loud claims of fraud. Democrats complained of judicial  skulduggery in Florida in 2000 and voting machine rigging in 2004. In 2016, Democrats asserted “Russian meddling” to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, while Trump (and Republican supporters) insisted in both 2016 and 2020 that he could only lose (and lost) if the election was “rigged.”

And, to be fair, the two major parties use ballot access laws and debate participation schemes to rig EVERY presidential election, and most other elections, to preclude the possibility of a competitive independent or third party candidacy.

Democrats are already sowing the seeds for claims of a rigged 2024 election with credible complaints about Republican efforts to, well, rig the 2024 election.

In a 2016 column, I pointed out the danger that casting doubt on election credibility represents to the United States as we know it. History is full of  coups (real ones, not annoying riots), revolutions, and civil wars sparked by arguments over who gets to be in charge. America is not immune to that possibility.

But for libertarians and anarchists like me, there’s a potential up side to this growing distrust of election outcomes.

The next step after losing trust in the integrity of the election system and the honesty of the outcomes that system announces is losing trust in the idea of elections as a way to settle our differences.  That could be a very good thing, as long as we don’t replace elections with monarchs or other rulers for life.

The problem with politics is not who we put in charge, or how we put them in charge. It’s THAT we put them in charge.

As military strategist Carl von Clausewitz pointed out, “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” Conversely, politics is the waging of war by other means.

Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature as “the war of all against all” and prescribed government as the cure. He got it exactly backward.

Putting something — anything, no matter how trivial — under the control of politicians amounts to declaring eternal, unceasing war over that thing.

The best solution to the perceived problems of election “rigging,” election “meddling,” etc., isn’t to resign ourselves to dictatorship, or even to seek more trustworthy elections. It’s to cut the power of government down so much that elections become too unimportant to bother “rigging” or “meddling in.”

We can have politics, or we can have peace. We can’t have both.

———–

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

25 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: Light at the End of the ‘Big Lie’ Tunnel?

  1. Gene Berkman

    “The next step after losing trust in the integrity of the election system and the honesty of the outcomes that system announces is losing trust in the idea of elections as a way to settle our differences.”

    There were governments before there were elections. And generally, the governments that existed before elections were more powerful and more abusive than governments that have been based on elections.

    This is not a defense of elected governments. But if America got rid of elections, it would not replace them with a volutary society – it would replace them with executive dictatorship, as we have been moving toward for decades.
    \
    As for the masses of people who were willing to undertake violence to keep Donald Trump as President – it is pretty clear that the quality of false messiahs has taken a nose dive.

    People were willing to fight to keep Donald Trump in charge? If there were any question about the dumbing down of Americans, I think we have the answer now.

  2. Sammy H

    Much like capitalism, democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the other ones.

    If the choice is rule by ballot or bullet, I prefer ballot.

  3. Traditionalist

    Every Marxist country in the world has elections, even North Korea. Ours have been hacked by the Chinese Communists and their domestic puppets under the cover of a biowarfare attack. Trump was a threat to the establishment, which: is why they cheated so brazenly to remove him.

    He stood up for our country, stood up to China, was getting our troops out of third world quagmires, restoring American manufacturing, calling on Europe to pay for their own defense, defending our borders, building a big, beautiful wall, and draining a lot of the bureaucratic swamp. So, of course, they had to replace him with a CCP puppet and a Marxist harlot. Of course people are justifiably angry.

    It wasn’t their first try. The Russia hoax, making a mountain of a molehill about a call to Ukraine – did you miss all that? Elections mean nothing when the votes aren’t counted honestly and when ineligible people vote, or vote multiple times. By ballot or by bullet, we must Save America and save the West. The wolf isn’t at the door – he’s inside the homestead and sitting at the head of the dinner table.

  4. Austin Cassidy

    Donald Trump was an absurd, self-promoting clown. He did not take his duty to the nation seriously, he did not work hard and he did not accomplish much of anything.

    You are parroting his various boasts about “big, beautiful walls” and such, but that is all delusional nonsense. He did essentially nothing with his time in office.

    In the same way that the Carter presidency is boiled down to oil shortages and the Iran hostage crisis, Trump will be remembered in history as buffoonish and corrupt, being twice impeached, and for the January 6th riot. That’s pretty much all that’ll make it into a textbook of 50 years from now.

  5. Traditionalist

    The best economy in decades was not accomplishing nothing. Ending decades of pointless land wars in Asia, or setting the stage for their end, was not accomplishing nothing. Standing up for our country, whether it came to China, immigration, manufacturing, or the defense of Europe, standing up to cancel culture, fake news, and cultural Marxism – all of those are big accomplishments.

    Fighting the Russia hoax and the bogus impeachments and beating them were big accomplishments. He also did a lot by way of judicial appointments. Perhaps you missed all that. But the best is yet to come, by far, when he triumphantly returns to office. I believe his first term was only a prelude to his real accomplishments, which are still ahead.

  6. Traditionalist

    Mr. Norman is correct. Trump was even better by far than Reagan, and Reagan was great compared to most of them. I don’t think Trump was better than Andrew Jackson so far, but he may well yet be, because, yes, he’ll be back – and better than ever!

  7. Austin Cassidy

    You guys are dreaming. Donald Trump will be lucky to escape criminal prosecution for his role in the January 6th riot. His reputation is hopelessly tarnished and he will never hold any political office again.

  8. Nathan Norman

    Donald Trump’s reputation is fine. Polls show Trump would easily defeat Biden if a rematch were held today. The public really doesn’t care about January 6. Its importance is an invention of political elites. I saw a poll where 75 percent of the public described it simply as a protest that went too far. The most concerning things about January 6 are the shooting of an unarmed protestor, the indefinite detention of protestors who merely trespassed, and the federal involvement.

    On that Matt Gaetz and MTG held a very informative press conference today. They highlighted many of the points raised by Revolver News and Tucker Carlson showing why January 6 should rightfully be referred to as a Fedsurrection.

  9. Andy

    Austin Cassidy said: “, Trump will be remembered in history as buffoonish and corrupt, being twice impeached, and for the January 6th riot. That’s pretty much all that’ll make it into a textbook of 50 years from now.”

    None of the charges for which they tried to impeach Trump were legitimate. They could have impeached him on legitimate charges, but it would have been for things for which all of the Democrats were just as guilty, if not more guilty, of themselves.

    Also, the January 6th event at the Capitol was a manipulated event by the Deep State.

    The fact that the Deep State went after Trump so hard tells me that he was doing some things right. I don’t think he was some great savior like “Traditionalist” and “Nathan Norman” (who may be the same person) are making him out to be, but he was less toxic than any President in recent history.

  10. Traditionalist

    I’m not Mr. Norman, but he is once again correct. Andy is also correct other than failing to realise how many different kinds of institutional obstruction a president faces. Trump did what he could in the face of all those roadblocks, learned a lot on the job, overcame a lot of adversity, learned a lot about who can and who can’t be trusted. When he returns to office, he will do much, much better.

    I never said he is anything like perfect. He’s the best we have in the real world. If he succeeds, we’ll have better options in the future. If he fails, we’ll have much worse ones.

  11. Andy

    “Traditionalist” said: “I never said he is anything like perfect. He’s the best we have in the real world. If he succeeds, we’ll have better options in the future. If he fails, we’ll have much worse ones.”

    If Donald Trump is the best we have then we are seriously screwed.

    We had a far superior candidate in 2008 and in 2012 in Ron Paul, and Donald Trump never donated to his campaigns or endorsed him.

  12. Andy

    “Austin Cassidy
    January 7, 2022 at 00:32
    You guys are dreaming. Donald Trump will be lucky to escape criminal prosecution for his role in the January 6th riot.”

    What role? J6 was staged by the Deep State.

  13. Robert Milnes

    Andy,
    Plant Man,
    Sorry, I have to agree with Austin here.
    BTW, all of a sudden I can not get Tom’s blog on my rather nice interweb rig. So I doubt if it is that.
    Anyone else have a problem with knappster?

  14. Jared

    Andy: “None of the charges for which they tried to impeach Trump were legitimate.”

    Going after Trump for Russian collusion, speculating that he was a puppet of the Putin regime, was obviously not legitimate. His campaign would’ve met with the devil himself if he claimed to have dirt on Hillary. Impeaching him for obstruction was, however, legitimate. Because he has an ego the size of Texas, zero regard for legal process, and believed the whole thing was a Democratic witch hunt (he wasn’t wrong), he did whatever he could to frustrate the investigation. That much was clear. That’s why Amash voted to impeach. Trump is consistently his own worst enemy.

  15. Traditionalist

    Given that the underlying investigation was based on deliberate lies, obstruction was a meaningless charge, and most likely meritless as well, as the Senate found.

  16. Traditionalist

    Andy,

    Donald Trump is indeed the best we have in the real world, the one we actually live in. Ron Paul did a lot of great writing, and cast a lot of great nay votes. I subscribed to his much maligned newsletters starting in the mid 1980s for at least a decade and probably more. I donated to his campaigns over the years and voted for him in 1988, 2008 and 2012. But at the end of the day, Ron Paul authored practically no legislation that passed, stopped no or practically no legislation from passing, and didn’t ever come close to winning the presidency. Donald Trump did far more to actually promote the ideas that candidates like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan ran on than they did, because he won.

    I’m disappointed he didn’t get more done in his first term, but he still did a lot as I detailed above, and learned a lot, and moved many pieces into play. When he returns to his rightful place in office which he was cheated out of by the Chinese Communists and their puppets, he will truly make the sweeping changes that we were all hoping for in his first term.

  17. Andy

    “Traditionalist
    January 8, 2022 at 09:23
    Andy,

    Donald Trump is indeed the best we have in the real world, the one we actually live in.”

    Then we need to change the paradigm because if Donald Trump is the best we can do, we are SCREWED. Donald Trump, RIGHT NOW, is pushing a dangerous, and unnecessary vaccine. The guy is useless.

    I understand that the standard for US Presidents, and for politicians in general, has been set pretty low, but why accept such a low standard? Donald Trump NEVER went after the Federal Reserve System. Donald Trump attacked Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Decentralized cryptocurrencies, not controlled by any government, is one of the few things that could save us, in that it could take down the entire central banking fiat currency scheme. Donald Trump did not support it. He told people to stay away from decentralized cryptocurrencies. Donald Trump also did NOTHING to end the IRS and the income tax scam, another big government racket. He also did nothing to repeal, or grant pardons for violating, any of the thousands of unconstitutional gun control laws on the books, and he issued a blatantly illegal Executive Order to ban bump stocks, setting a precedent that a President can enact gun control “laws” by executive office fiat, something which Democrats will likely point to and exploit. Trump NEVER granted a pardon to Edward Snowden, and he called him a traitor for exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless domestic mass spying program. He also never issued a pardon to Julian Assange, for exposing government corruption via Wikileaks, or to other political prisoners who are being held on false or otherwise trumped up charges, like Ross Ulbritch and Schaeffer Cox. Trump NEVER pardoned anyone who is in jail or prison for having allegedly violated any unconstitutional “laws” or who was otherwise railroaded in court, but he did find the time to grant pardons to some scam artist scumbags who were recommended for pardons by his weasel son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Oh, and speaking of Kushner, Trump is also a big pro-Israel guy, putting the interest of Israel above that of the USA, as Trump thinks that the USA should support Israel no matter what, and continue to fork over billions in taxpayer funds to Israel.

    I could go on, but THIS is the guy that you think is going to save the country and Make America Great Again?!?!?

    GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK!

  18. Andy

    Traditionalist said: “. Donald Trump did far more to actually promote the ideas that candidates like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan ran on than they did, because he won.”

    Then why didn’t Donald Trump ever donate any money to Ron Paul, or endorse him, when he ran for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for 2008 and 20212? Donald Trump is a rich and famous and influential guy. He could have easily donated say 1 million dollars, or even 2 or 3 million dollars or more, to a Ron Paul Super PAC, and he could have endorsed Ron Paul, and appeared at campaign rallies with him in 2008 and in 2012, YET HE DID NOTHING FOR HIM.

    Donald Trump never endorsed, or donated money to, Pat Buchanan either. In fact, when Donald Trump briefly ran for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination in 2000, for which Pat Buchanan was also running, after Trump dropped out, he NEVER endorsed eventual nominee, Pat Buchanan, and he NEVER donated any money to his campaign, and he also never supported Buchanan in his 1996 or 1992 campaigns for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

    Not that I think that Pat Buchanan is as good as Ron Paul, because he is not and never was, but this is beside the point. Buchanan was right on some things, like the warnings he gave in, “The Death of the West,” so he was likely preferable to the status quo politicians.

  19. Gene Berkman

    “Donald Trump is a rich and famous and influential guy. He could have easily donated say 1 million dollars, or even 2 or 3 million dollars or more, to a Ron Paul Super PAC”

    Or he could have sent a bad check to the Ron Paul campaign, as one would expect from someone who declared bankruptcy 4 times.

  20. Traditionalist

    Yes, Andy, a deeply flawed man is going to Save America and make it great again. As you doubtless know the founders of this country were deeply flawed as well, as have been all great leaders throughout history. You get no break when you want imagined perfection to stand in the way of actually saving our country and culture from drowning.

    Pat Buchanan was and is better than Ron Paul, who is also very good. But as good as they both are, and as right as they have been for all these decades, TRUMP actually did a lot more for issues like right to life, secure borders, and ending unnecessary and unproductive conflicts in the mideast and central Asia than they ever did. This, despite having not come around to the correct position on some of these issues until very late in life, in some cases not until the Obama abomination or even his own administration. Why? Because he actually got elected President! For example, Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul were right about right to life all along. Donald Trump was wrong about it for most of his life. But it was he, not they, who appointed the justices who are likely to actually end the holocaust of abortion. That’s because WINNING MATTERS! Having the right ideas is important, but getting in a position to do something about them is even more important.

    Is Trump short of perfection in many ways? Yes, like all of us, he is. But he so happens to be the one throwing us a life raft right now. If we don’t take it, we are sunk. Analyse his imperfections as much as you want, but I’m taking that life raft.

  21. Andy

    “Traditionalist
    January 10, 2022 at 09:18
    Yes, Andy, a deeply flawed man is going to Save America and make it great again.”

    Donald Trump had 4 years to do this, and he FAILED. Why should we believe that he will do this in another term.

  22. Andy

    Traditionalist said: “Pat Buchanan was and is better than Ron Paul, who is also very good. ”

    No way was Pat Buchanan better than Ron Paul. Sure, Pat Buchanan was probably better than a status quo politician, but he was never up to Ron Paul’s league.

  23. Traditionalist

    Andy,

    We’ll have to disagree regarding Mr. Buchanan being better than Dr. Paul. It comes down to issues where you and I disagree, although it’s objectively true that Buchanan performed better both in the primaries and as a third party candidate (albeit both were disappointing). It’s also objectively true that Buchanan is the much more read and cited columnist, author, speaker, and tv and radio commentator. I don’t know whether you can really objectively compare the writing/speaking/debate styles or the executive branch vs congressional experience. Clearly, Buchanan was better known, although that’s probably no longer true with young people.

    As we discussed previously, and you failed to appreciate and blithely discounted, the reason President Trump did not get even more accomplished during his first term, and why I believe he will accomplish a lot more in his second, is overcoming institutional barriers. One area where a president can get a lot done is through executive orders and actions by agency heads he appoints and those under them, but they have to make it through judicial review, and ultimately through the Supreme Court. President Trump did a lot to change the composition of those courts, which will give him much more leeway in the future.

    A president also has to work with congressional leadership, especially in his own party. A lot has been done, and continues to be done, to move them in his direction. That also includes governors and other people who are influential in the party. A president has to learn, sometimes through trial and error, who to surround himself with (and who not to). He has to be able to get his people into key positions, a lot of which takes congressional approval. Once there, they have to clean house within their agencies. The military and intelligence bureaucracy is especially important, as well as federal law enforcement, but so are many others. All this takes time.

    A lot of it is just learning on the job. President Trump learned a lot on the job his first term. He learned how a lot of the levers of presidential power do and don’t work, who to trust and who not to trust. He’ll have a party more ready to put his nominees in place and to fight with him more strongly whenever the Democrats, fake news media etc try to throw dirt at him. He’ll have courts that will uphold more of his actions. He’ll have a kind of freedom that you only get when you no longer have to worry about reelection, and a confidence that could only come from beating one phony Russia hoax and two phony baseless impeachments…plus, by then, one stolen election, one bogus J6 probe, and no doubt another attempted stolen election. He’ll have a massive mandate that comes from winning a huge landslide victory, along with big majorities in Congress.

    All of these different elements will feed off each other to create a better defense and open up opportunities on offense. In short, it will be a whole different ball game, much like it was for the Dawgs last night. And speaking of Georgia, he will once again have a star player named Herschel Walker on his team. If that and the Georgia victory in the rematch isn’t a good sign, what is?

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