Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
However the presidential election turns out, one thing is clear, half the country will believe that the man officially sitting in the White House is an illegitimate pretender.
And that’s the way it’s been throughout this century.
The crisis of presidential legitimacy really kicked into gear in 2000. Before that people might hate the president, but the opposing political party wouldn’t insist on his illegitimacy. Afterward every president has been treated as an illegitimate criminal to be opposed and driven out.
Twenty years later, the Democrat strategy of presidential illegitimacy has brought the country to the brink of civil war. Declaring that President Bush was illegitimate wasn’t just rhetoric. Congressional Democrats fought certification of the election results in 2000 and 2004, and touted impeachment. The Iraq War did not radicalize Democrat opposition to Bush, like the pandemic, it gave the already radicalized Democrats a tangible thing to justify their treason.
The Democrat doctrine of presidential illegitimacy changed how our government worked.
The first duty of House Democrats became public shows of resistance and hostility to an illegitimate president. And presidents responded by acting unilaterally through executive orders and actions. The collapse of relations between the executive and legislative branches led to a stalemate that benefited the unelected parts of the government: judicial and administrative.
Republicans worked to secure the judiciary while Democrats tightened their hold on the administrative state. But pitting a conservative judiciary, in politics and temperament, against the culture war of elites and their administrative state that made the rules was an uphill battle.
The losers were voters whose ability to influence the issues they cared about dropped as the unelected parts of government grew more powerful while the power of the voters shrank.
But the American people by inclination and the system by design tended to split the legislative and executive branches between rival political parties to maintain a check on political power.
The Democrats responded with frantic schemes to rig the system through ballot harvesting and election fraud, abolishing the electoral college, and adding Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico as states all to bypass the clear preference of voters for a divided political system.
Their goal isn’t to make the system fairer, but to rig the system so no one else can win.
The Democrats reacted to 2016 by demanding that some of the country’s biggest companies, in and out of the tech industry, join them in fighting President Trump. The resulting oligarchy consolidated a political movement and its cultural sympathizers in the administrative state and corporate sphere to declare a total war against President Trump and his supporters using tactics ranging from widespread censorship on the internet to wiretapping and criminal investigations..
The sum total of this effort was to move power further away from voters and into an oligarchy.
The irony of an oligarchy consisting of some of the most powerful men and women in the country, and their corporations and government institutions consolidating power under the guise of fighting for the oppressed has plenty of historical precedents. All of these precedents are bad.
The oligarchy claims that contrary views, which it labels “disinformation” pose a unique threat to “democracy”.The unique threat isn’t posed by disinformation, disagreeable speech, or lies, a concept as old as mankind, but by the usurpation of political power by an unelected oligarchy.
Between 2016 and 2020, elections have been undermined, voters have been disenfranchised, and the First Amendment has been dispensed with in response to various emergencies, from President Trump’s victory to the pandemic by the private-public alliance of the oligarchy.
Governors responded to the pandemic by usurping the power of legislatures and other elected officials, such as the secretary of state in Nevada, to unilaterally ban public gatherings, outlaw protests, enter private residences, and fundamentally change how elections are conducted.
They also worked with tech companies to suppress political protests against their activities.
Tech companies, which command the marketplace of ideas, suppressed political scandals involving Biden, and amplified scandals involving President Trump. The administrative state and elements of the judiciary worked to undermine President Trump, obstruct his policies, and block his actions on any available pretext in a political coup of unprecedented scope and scale.
And, if that weren’t enough, the violent mobs of the Black Lives Matter racist movement, backed by corporate money and massive assistance from foundations like the Ford Foundation, terrorized entire cities and suburbs while mobilizing support for Democrats and their agenda.
The 2020 election occurred under this state of emergency, imposed not by President Trump, but by a coalition of Democrat officials, media propagandists, and tech companies with ugly results.
Even beyond the outrageous voter fraud that marked this election, there could be no better way to delegitimize a presidential election than through the combination of Democrat abuses of power, violations of civil rights, mass propaganda and censorship, and mob violence.
This is how elections are conducted in Third World countries and now in America.
We have come a long way in twenty years since Bush v. Gore. And now it’s not about hanging chads or the details of the disputed elements. It’s that no one trusts elections anymore.
Despite the outraged disdain with which the media met Republican challenges to the election, there is nothing that Republicans have alleged about the election that Democrats did not allege about the previous elections that they lost. The same narratives about voting machine hacking, illegitimately counted, marked, and destroyed ballots, and even calls for electors to reject state results were there and will be there again. But only Democrats are allowed to make them.
Because only Democrats are allowed to wield power. And since only Democrats are allowed to wield power, any election they win is legitimate and any election that they lose is illegitimate.
But the problem with breaking the system to gain power is that the system stays broken.
The Democrats justify each breach by depicting each new Republican as a unique threat to be stopped by any means necessary. That doctrine of presidential illegitimacy is now a permanent element of our political life. And delegitimizing presidents begins with delegitimizing elections.
Democrats delegitimized Bush and then Trump by attacking the legitimacy of the 2000, 2004, and 2016 elections. Is it any wonder that by 2020 no one trusts election outcomes anymore?
The Democrats have made it clear that they want absolute power and that their own legitimacy isn’t a problem because they control the distribution of information through the media and now through an alliance with tech companies that monopolize internet search and social media.
But propaganda doesn’t grant legitimacy, it destroys the public’s trust in institutions.
Public trust, unlike propaganda, isn’t selective. When enough elections are delegitimized, then no election is legitimate. And then no president elected through such means is legitimate.
When public health experts insist that Trump rallies spread the coronavirus but Black Lives Matter riots don’t, then public trust and compliance collapse. The only lasting message of double standards is that there is no standard and that all that really matters is power.
The crisis of this election was decades and generations in the making. It’s now here.
The Democrats embraced a strategy of delegitimizing elections because they don’t derive their power from the traditional political system of the country, but from subverting it. Everything they did this year and the last four years was aimed at subverting elections and voters. And if the public loses faith in elections, that will make elections that much easier to steal in the future.
Their endgame is rule by an oligarchy, by the stakeholders and representatives of identity politics victimhood groups, but not by representatives of the electorate of the states of the union.
That is the fundamental crisis of the republic. The issue is not just one stolen election, but a strategy of delegitimizing elections, shattering representative government, and replacing it with an unelected oligarchy backed by mass propaganda, censorship, and political repression.
The crisis of the republic is emerging out of the shadows of the state and we have to meet it. Its urgent question is whether ours is a government of the people or a people of the government.