- Glenn Sonnenberg
Musings from the Bunker 1/4/21
Good morning, I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and enjoyed the various meaningless sporting events that kept our attention when we weren't out hiking, binge watching BBC police drams, planning on take-out dinner orders, or rearranging our sock drawers. This one is a bit long because it’s important… THE ELECTION SO FAR One would have thought November 3rd have been the "big day" for the election of our next President (or at least a few days later when the results became clear). But how wrong I was. The certification of state electors was a nail-biter, resting in the hands of a few dedicated members of state election commissioners and Secretaries of State who likely never envisioned they might be part of history--or at least not in this manner. Then we held our breaths when the electors finally voted on that December day that all of the sudden became a key date in our election cycle. But that just wasn't enough for the Dear Leader and his misbegotten followers. The "base" has been fed misleading data and unsubstantiated claims regarding the voting machines, the accessibility of the counting to observers from both sides, the "impossibility" of the number of votes cast for President-elect Biden, that mail-in ballots somehow are ipso facto fraudulent , that many “fake” ballots were counted, and a variety of conspiracy theories that seem to place Biden somehow in the "pocket" of Xi. But here we are, Congress about to engage in the pro forma acceptance of the electoral results certified by the states and all of the sudden it has become the next forum for banging the drum on conspiracy theories and “stopping the steal.” This political theatre is being played by some die-hard Republicans trying to placate Mr. Trump so he doesn't turn on them and satisfy the more virulent in their base. The challenge—which It's despicable, anti-democratic and bordering on treasonous—does not even attempt to offer any evidence. As the coward Ron Johnson (R-WI) said on Meet the Press yesterday, the commission they propose is in response not to facts, but to the tens of millions of people who doubt the results—results Mr. Johnson and others encouraged people to doubt. Meanwhile our Dear Leader has been riling up the troops for a demonstration in D.C. THE REPUBLICAN PLAN Twelve or more Republican members of the House and Senate claim to want a commission established to review the last election—not because there is evidence of fraud but because some people think there might be. A commission to pursue something people “feel,” notwithstanding the findings of 57 courts. As Chuck Todd said, why not also form a commission for other unproven conspiracies—the “inside job” of 9/11, the moon landing, etc. They demand this for an as-yet unnamed list of states (all won by President-elect Biden), seeking to create further chaos over the results of a democratic election to satisfy the bloodthirsty and conspiracy-driven base that they have nurtured. Their "plan" (if one can even call it that) is that this commission review the election procedures and results ONLY in certain swing states won by Biden (but none won by Trump) and do so in the only 10 days. It would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic. And it would be pathetic if it weren't so dangerous. WHY NOT CALL THE BLUFF AND GET A COMMISSION FORMED? If I were part of the Democratic leadership, I would execute some legislative jiu-jitsu and offer up the following statements and proposal:
The election is over.
This last election cycle was the most public, transparent, carefully watched and well executed election in our history.
We have gone through multiple recounts in states—only states won by President-elect Biden. None of them changed the result.
We have gone through various lawsuits in multiple states—numbering 50 or more. None of them resulted in much of anything. The Supreme Court—with a conservative majority, has turned down hearing of two of the more preposterous of these.
The States have now all certified their results. The job of the Congress at this point is the mere formality of receiving the electoral votes. Anything other than that is merely grandstanding.
It is unrealistic to believe that in the 14 days between now and the inauguration we will learn any more about purported election fraud than that which already was NOT unearthed through—
Election workers doing their jobs and reporting no instances of massive or coordinated fraud
Secretaries of State confirming results and that there were no proven examples of election fraud
Multiple automated and hand recounts
No proof that any voting system was either owned by, or controlled by foreign interests, nor that any such system was programmed in a way to manipulate the results.
Observation of ballot counting by representatives of both parties that uncovered no such conspiracy
Legions of Republican activists in these states trying—without success—to identify examples of such widespread fraud
Hundreds of millions of dollars collected by President Trump, ostensibly to fund “getting to the bottom” of some widespread national (and international) conspiracy to “steal the election," which thus far has delivered no evidence of any conspiracy, fraud, or foreign manipulation on behalf of President-elect Biden.
We believe that the sanctity of the electoral process is essential to the health of our democracy. No doubt there are examples of fraudulent behaviors from various quarters (after all, human nature does not identify with a single political ideology). Even though no major fraud has been shown, the Republican party finally seems ready to discuss vote integrity and voter suppression more globally and openly than within the quarters of biased State legislatures already seeking to further disenfranchise voters in future election cycles.
Even though this was the most exhaustively reviewed, analyzed, and transparent of election cycles in our history, there always are lessons to learn. We share with our Republican colleagues their stated goal of “counting all legal ballots.” We have been concerned that many states, typically controlled by Republican legislatures, consciously restrict the ability of their citizens to vote their "legal ballots," with unreasonably restrictive requirements and narrow periods within which to accept and/or count validly submitted ballots.
We accept the Republican proposal to form a commission to examine our elections processes. Its goal should be (as they claim) to ensure better elections. But it cannot be an undemocratic attempt to overturn the results of the election just held or enhance the chaotic environment designed to constrain the incoming administration, which Mr. Trump so expertly is attempting to further. Therefore, we propose the following:
Establishment of a bipartisan commission comprised of five Republican and five Democratic representatives, presumably some of whom currently sit on the Federal Elections Commission.
The bipartisan commission will be charged with reviewing the election procedures and results in ALL 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Part of the purview of this blue-ribbon commission will be to review voter suppression efforts, including physical intimidation (including distancing of protestors from polling places), limiting the number of drop-off points for ballots, limiting the time period within which to drop off ballots, restricting the time periods for accepting mail-in ballots, not allowing early commencement of mail-in ballot processing, unreasonable voter verification procedures, and other issues that go to the accessibility, fairness, and accuracy of our elections.
Congress will devote sufficient resources, in terms of funding and staffing, so the commission can discharge their duties in one year.
The commission should be charged with coming up with recommendation of a “Model Elections Code” based upon the various concerns raised over the recent election cycles. We will agree with our Republican colleagues to endorse this non-partisan effort, in advance, in establishing these model standards and we will encourage the adoption of these standards by the States.
If our Republican friends are serious about performing a rigorous review of our election processes, successes and failings, rather than simply focusing on an election that already is "in the books," they will join with us in creating this commission—so that elections in the future can be even more transparent, accessible and fair and be accepted by their constituents as such. That's what I would propose. But I'm not in Congress and I have no standing. But it seems reasonable. They should CALL THE BLUFF! Best, Glenn