The storming of the U.S. Capitol not only delayed and diluted the effects of an important Electoral College certification debate. It drove the issues surrounding the election off the media’s front page. In the aftermath of the debacle, a debacle that must be thoroughly investigated as to its perpetrators and enablers, conservatives, Republicans, and Trumpservatives were forced to confront dire realities. While the imperative was to fight on, there is no doubt that many on the Right were dangerously dejected. Why dangerously? Not because they might resort to violence, but because they’ve given up hope that America will ever hold a fair national election again.
It is dangerous for the republic when traditionalist Americans lose hope and disengage.
This week, Sean Hannity told a downcast radio listener to keep fighting no matter how bad things look. Later that same day, Mark Levin was vowing on his show to constitutionally challenge every expected far-left Orwellian policy or executive action coming out of a Kamala Harris/Joe Biden administration, and predicting that in the 2022 midterm “the GOP will take back the House, and possibly even the Senate.”
God willing, but the problem here is the widespread belief in conservative precincts that the was mass election fraud, both in terms of unconstitutional state court rulings, mail-in COVID hysteria, and actual hands-on subterfuge. Even those who surmise that the level of theft was not enough to have changed the outcome, fear that an apparatus is in place to nullify anything happening that the urban counting houses don’t want to happen.
It is no stretch to assume that a majority of consumers of conservative media fall into the category of people who seriously suspect or ardently believe the election was illegitimate. With such a majority of the troops believing electoral hope is lost, it is going to be a challenge to rally them. In the assessment of many, this sense of electoral despair is the biggest issue facing conservatism in the wake of the Democrat capture of the national government.
How helpful it would have been had a comprehensive and unimpeded battleground state forensic audit been allowed to happen as a result of the certification process. If such an audit showed that Biden won fair and square, the vast majority of Trump’s troops would have gone home, licked their wounds, and prepared for the day when they could fight again.
As things stand, it may be months, or years, if ever, before the country knows the truth about what happened in 2020. The Capitol storming—not the peaceful concurrent protest, nor the president’s perfectly acceptable rallying cry—dismally muddied the waters around the election integrity story, and created a power-nexus vacuum that carried Biden over the finish line. Important: Biden would have been installed anyway, that writing was on the wall. But a clean debate would have set the stage more compellingly for a post-election Republican effort to reform the way America votes. Absent that, for all the hue, cry, and entertainment value of conservative media, there will be a strong sense among the consumers of such media that all the talk, the analysis, the horseracing, will be so much crying in a Democrat-controlled wilderness.
Let’s get the cynicism out of the way: conservative media needs listeners who believe they have a chance. If the belief that the Left has the vote-counting apparatus intrinsically skewed to kill that chance becomes a bedrock conviction, right-leaning interest in politics may slough-off in numbers that make the surge in post-election Fox News defectors look like the average number of people at a pre-November 3 Biden rally.
It will be necessary in the wake of 2020 to convince them they still have a chance.
Imagine Rush Limbaugh taking to the airwaves and saying something like, “Look, they control all the levers of power. They’ve got the courts—arguably all the way up to the Supreme Court. They’ve got the media, now largely including a huge block of Fox News. And they’ve got people on the ground willing to actively cheat in the places where it matters most, people who have the backing of the Democratic Party all the way up the chain of command to Biden, Harris, Schumer, and Pelosi.
“I invite you to keep listening, and I hope you will, for information, edification, and a sense of the survival of the conservative family. But do not doubt me…the deck is irrevocably stacked against us.”
Neither Rush, nor Hannity, nor Levin would ever say anything like that, because it would prompt a chunk of listeners to opt for Spotify playlists. Newsmax TV hosts, prime beneficiaries of the FNC defections, will never say anything like that because it might prompt a few ratings-points worth of viewers to opt for old Sea Hunt reruns on YouTube. (Don’t laugh until you try it.)
Hope must be kept alive. But for those holding the entrenched belief that Biden and company got away with grand theft electoral, there’s only going to be one way to keep them securely in the fold: aggressive legislation coming out of the minority House and Senate aimed at meaningful election reform.
We put men on the moon, and Donald Trump might have set us on a course to put humankind on the face of Mars. There has got to be a way to secure our elections, to true the vote, so that this existential doubt about outcomes can be decisively eradicated. Conservative America will be looking toward patriotic, battle-ready Republicans in Congress to craft proposals that would do just that. We’re looking for ideas from officeholders like Representatives Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, and Senator Marsha Blackburn.
Granted, it will be more than an uphill battle to get a single vote from Democrats for any election integrity bills. Why would they upset an apple cart that has carried them to ultimate victory? They won’t, not even Joe Manchin. Material gains in the fight to reform the vote will have to wait until at least 2022. But it is important to get proposals in the pipeline now, if for no other reason than to show the base that something is being done, that the issue will not be knocked off the front page.
When the Right talks about fighting, a sober assessment of the battleground suggests that without election reform, any other hue and cry is a lot of storm and fury, signifying very little.
Mark Ellis is Associate Editor at the Northwest Connection, Portland, Oregon’s only conservative web/print publication. He is the author of A Death on the Horizon, a finalist in the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Awards in the category of General Fiction. Follow Mark, who has not yet been banned from Twitter.