The Big Lie?
Liz Cheney was removed from her leadership position by the Republican Party on Wednesday mainly because she has spent too much time attacking former President Trump for questioning the results of the 2020 election, and not enough time trying to stop Joe Biden’s agenda. She has said, "there is clearly an attempt to unravel the democracy,…by focusing on challenging the legitimacy of the election.” And that we have "particular obligation to make sure people know the election wasn't stolen, that we shouldn't perpetuate 'the big lie,'.”
Donald Trump is not lying when he questions the results of the election. He is making an unsubstantiated claim. And that is an important distinction. Most proven claims of wrong doing start out as an unsubstantiated claim that with a thorough investigation, and fact finding, is then proven either true or false. Liz Cheney does not know the election was honest with any more certainty than Trump knows it was stolen. Her claims of election integrity is as evidence-free as Trump’s claims of election fraud. And therein lies the problem. Neither side knows the truth.
26 million more votes were cast in 2020 than in any previous Presidential election, so it’s fair to ask whether all 26 million of those new votes were cast legally and legitimately. Election integrity is paramount to a functioning country, and simply stating the election was fair, like Liz Cheney, does not make it fair. That is something dictators do; they make blanket claims of integrity without any evidence to back them up. So, questions about the integrity of an election should not be ignored, or shot down as threats to democracy, they should be fully investigated. Yet we have never had a complete forensic investigation or audit of the 2020 election. So, Liz Cheney’s claim that the election was fair is as unproven as Trump’s claim that it was stolen.
Not only were 26 million more votes cast, we also had unprecedented, unconstitutional, and rushed-thru changes to our election laws in many states, primarily the battleground states, so it only makes sense to conduct a thorough investigation of our elections to determine if these changes hold up to the highest standards of integrity.
In 2000, we believed it was right to allow a challenge of the Presidential election all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that election was fair so the American people would have confidence in our newly elected President. 4 years ago, we thought it was necessary to appoint Robert Mueller to investigate the 2016 election for 2 ½ years for the same reason. So, why isn’t it worth investigating this election? Why are any questions of this election immediately dismissed as lies and attempts to undermine our democracy? Why is every challenge of this election blocked and stonewalled? What are they trying to hide?
Regardless of what Liz Cheney says, questioning an election does not undermine our democracy; not investigating potential fraud in an election undermines our democracy. A thorough investigation would answer many of the questions that people have, and it would go a long way to build confidence in our current President, and also help to ensure the integrity of future elections. Transparency is vital to a functioning government, so telling people to look the other way, and don’t ask questions is the exact opposite of transparency.
The burden of proof should rest not only on the people charging fraud, but also on the government officials claiming integrity. “Not guilty” is not a high enough bar for our elections. We must demand proof of innocence, proof that there was no fraud. Claims of either fraud or legitimacy must be held to the exact same standards of proof when it comes to elections or other governmental functions. That’s what transparency means. This will restore the American citizens’ trust in our elections, as opposed to simply making an unproven claim of integrity like Liz Cheney continues to do.
We can never assume anything regarding the integrity of our election system, and we must scrutinize it to the highest degree with the strictest standards. The problem is that the people who are blocking and stonewalling investigations into the 2020 election, are the ones pushing Federal changes to our election laws which would remove many of the mechanisms in place that ensure the integrity of the vote. The people who don’t want to investigate potential voter fraud in this past election are also pushing policies that would make it easier to commit voter fraud in future elections.
This is not about our past, Donald Trump; this is about our future, our country. The legitimacy of our elections which determines the legitimacy of our government is at stake. We must ensure that not only was the 2020 election legitimate, but safeguard all of our elections moving forward because if we stop having legitimate elections, we will descend into chaos. So, the “big lie” is not the claim that the 2020 election was stolen, or the 2020 election was legitimate. The “big lie” is the charge that questioning the results of an election undermines our democracy because scrutinizing elections makes democracy that much stronger.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.