Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Democrats claimed that the 2016 election was stolen, Republicans say that the 2020 election is being stolen. But there is a fundamental difference in how they say the theft happened.
The Democrats and their media have spent four years claiming that the 2016 election was tampered with through “disinformation”. Disinformation has become the latest media buzzword whose meaning is both ambiguous and menacing. Every opposing point of view, on any issue, is now labeled “disinformation” and falsely described as being a “threat to democracy”.
Strip away the Orwellian buzzwords and what they are really saying is that the election was stolen because the voters had access to wrongthink and accordingly voted the wrong way.
Ignore the actual merits of the proposition and compare it to the Republican argument.
Republicans are saying that the 2020 election was stolen through systematic election fraud. They’re not saying that the election was stolen because people.had the wrong views.
The proposed Republican solution to the election fraud is to verify the legitimacy of the vote while the Democrat solution to their claim of election theft was and is massive censorship.
Republicans want to empower voters while Democrats want to disempower them.
Democrats reversed the basic meanings of words and ideas. Hillary Clinton accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of being “authoritarian” and “Trumpian” for saying, “our users can make up their own minds” when refusing to remove an unflattering Pelosi video.
That’s the opposite of authoritarian.
Legally, there are no such things as illegitimate ideas, but there are illegitimate votes.
Republicans are addressing an election fraud by sorting legitimate votes from illegitimate ones, while Democrats want to fight what they say is election theft by sorting legitimate from illegitimate ideas. This censorship venture actually is authoritarian and unconstitutional.
Republicans want to count every legal vote, while Democrats want to count every illegal opinion.
When President Trump calls for counting all legal votes, he’s defending the rights of the voters, but when Hillary Clinton and Democrats attack speech, they’re attacking the Bill of Rights.
Distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate votes is fundamental to representative government. When ballot harvesters hand out gift cards, as they allegedly did in Nevada, when massive amounts of ballots appear in the dead of night and are never properly verified, when drop boxes and voting machines vulnerable to fraud are used, then the power of the voters to choose their representatives is undermined, not by other voters, but by Democrats.
That’s not an election: it’s an authoritarian system that elects its own leaders.
Verifying the integrity of the vote is a fundamental function of government because its legitimacy rests on free and honest elections. When one party or another challenges the integrity of an election, it’s not attacking the people, but holding the system that serves them accountable.
Democrats and their media have responded to President Trump’s claims of election fraud by describing it as “disinformation” and an “attack on democracy”. Media outlets have cut off speeches and statements by President Trump and his associates about the election fraud, and tech monopolies have censored claims by President Trump and other conservatives.
This is not a “defense of democracy”. It’s the response of an authoritarian system to political dissent. A free system doesn’t fear verifying the integrity of an election because it has nothing to hide. It doesn’t seek to disbar lawyers who sue over election results, and it doesn’t censor elected officials and private citizens who raise questions about it, let alone call for their arrests.
Verifying ideas is an illegitimate and unconstitutional function of government. It is so entirely unconstitutional that the First Amendment was designed as a rebuttal to that entire notion.
“It’s imperative that leaders from the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives,” Hillary Clinton ranted, urging a fight against “disinformation”.
Our republic, and for that matter no democracy, is threatened by disinformation. It can be threatened by bad and evil ideas, but free societies don’t police ideas, they police crimes. The Democrats have endorsed police defunding and no longer want to police crimes, just ideas.
George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in 1984 was based on the real Ministry of Information whose goal was to dispense propaganda and enforce censorship. The modern UK set up the National Security Communications Unit to combat disinformation in “an era of fake news and competing narratives”. Treating “competing narratives” as a national security threat is how you get 1984.
Or the Democrat claims that the 2016 election was stolen because they lost the argument.
Democrats or Republicans have every right to challenge the integrity of an election because elections are a legitimate function of government. They have no right to regulate ideas, as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton have urged, because ideas are not a legitimate function of government. Governments serve the people through elections, not ideas.
There’s no room for a Ministry of Information or a Ministry of Truth in America.
In the fight for the last two presidential elections, as in all things, Republicans and Democrats have maintained their respective polar philosophical differences over the role of government. Democrats responded to losing in 2016 by trying to police the people, while Republicans are fighting in 2020 to police the government. Republicans believe that elections are undermined by the government, while Democrats believe that elections are undermined by the people.
At the heart of the question is the same debate over the relationship between the people and the government. The Democrats run for office to reaffirm the central role of the government and attribute their losses to an unruly public that needs to learn its place, while Republicans run for office to affirm the central role of the people in limiting the power of the government.
And they blame their losses on the government, whether it’s the ‘deep state’ or corrupt officials.
President Trump is right to question the role of the government in this election. And, more importantly, whether he’s right or wrong, he is within his rights to do so. As are we all. But Hillary Clinton and Democrats were never within their rights to question the role of ideas in elections.
When President Trump challenges the integrity of an election, he’s fighting for the rights of the voters to have their votes legitimately counted. But when Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren call for a crackdown on ideas, they are proposing to have the government repress the people.
Those are the ultimate stakes in this election fight and in our political system.
People elect governments. Governments do not elect people. The public has the right to question, challenge, and denounce the government. But the government has no right to tell the people what to think. It is a dangerous thing for the government and its allies to tell the people that they have no right to question an election or that they have no right to their opinions.
But in 2016 and 2020, that was and is the Democrat position. In 2016, when the Democrats lost, they said that the people had no right to have the wrong sort of opinions. In 2020, they insist that the people have no right to question an election. And that is why it must be questioned.
Free countries remain free when people challenge the government. When they don’t, elections and opinions stop mattering. President Trump’s ongoing campaign for the integrity of the election upholds our nation’s highest principles of freedom and helps keep us all free.