If a Won Election Is Not Reported, Is It a Won Election?

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Everyone knows the old teaser: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer turns on the concept of “sound.” There will be sound waves, of course, but “sound” depends on the human ear registering and interpreting the kinetic energy released by the falling tree. So, no, it doesn’t make a “sound”—and if one is not present, or is not paying attention or is distracted by other considerations, one will not know whether the tree has fallen or not. But if one takes a walk through the forest, one may note the fallen tree and arrive at the proper conclusion. It fell, sound or no sound.

The analogy with the current electoral muddle is obvious. Everyone knows that Donald Trump has won the 2020 election. Everyone knows that electoral tampering has been massive and ubiquitous, and that a fair vote would have borne landslide numbers for the president. Everyone knows that ballot harvesting, mail-in voting, and extended vote tallying for an indefinite period after the polls close, when new ballots are miraculously found and illegible or absent postmarks are ignored, is the broad, well-trodden path to electoral fraud. And everyone knows that the fix was in from the start. 

Indeed, the plot to steal the election by whatever means possible has been brewing for the last four years. Everything has been done, from the daily circulation of outright lies to phony impeachment procedures, to render the President illegitimate and to disqualify a vote in his favor. The “swamp” is not only deep, it is expansive. It is both vertical and horizontal. Its depths reach down to every major public institution and government agency. Its sludge spreads outward to the legacy media, cable news, and the Big Tech platforms. The swamp is everywhere. It is characterized by two salient features: endemic duplicity and suppression of countervailing truths, lying and censorship, that is, white noise and strategic silence. And silence is perhaps its most effective instrument. 

This leads to the correlative teaser: If a won election is not reported, is it a won election? The media have been reluctant to declare an obvious victory. No major news outlet has definitively reported on what most people know is an indisputable fact, that Donald Trump is the clear winner. Even in those individual cases where the results were known early in the process—Florida, for example—disclosure was long delayed. So the question remains: If Trump won the election but the fact is not reported, did he win the election? Did the tree fall? If the media have their way, no one will hear the tree and no one will hear the electoral outcome. 

A walk through the political forest would settle the issue, but who’s walking? Perhaps a handful of responsible journalists and, hopefully, a plurality of conscientious voters. 

For the tree did indeed fall. The kinetics were present for anyone in the vicinity to translate energy into sound. A walk through the forest—an attentive examination of all the factors involved—would yield the truth. But for the swamp denizens and their innumerable outriders, there is not even a forest. One thing is absolutely needful. The Supreme Court must listen to the sound of the falling tree.