Implausible Conspiracy and Unfair Election

Today, the Trump campaign lost another election fraud case, in Pennsylvania. It reminded me that, in my recent economic explanation of why this alleged fraud is highly implausible, I forgot one factor: election rigging is usually committed by the government in power, because it is the only group that has the necessary resources and control over election processes. Indeed, election laws and procedures are mainly designed to prevent fraud by governments, which is the main danger. The fraud claimed by the Trump campaign would probably be the only one in the history of democracy to have been committed by the opposition against the government in power. The White House, the Senate, and most state governorships were held by Republicans and Trump allies. This strange fact makes the hairy fraud and conspiracies even more implausible.

Other interesting issues are raised by the Wall Street Journal story (“Court Denies Trump Campaign’s Appeal in Pennsylvania Ballot Challenge,” November 27), when it reports:

“Calling an election unfair does not make it so,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, for the three-judge panel. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Judge Bibas was joined by Judge Michael Chagares and Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith, both appointees of George W. Bush.

(A non-gated story about today’s decision is available from AP: “Appeals Court Rejects Trump Challenge of Pennsylvania Race.”)

Note that the Pennsylvania ruling was signed by a “Trump judge,” not an “Obama judge” as Trump used to say about the judges that made decisions he did not approve. This suggests that many of Trump judicial nominations were surprisingly well chosen, as I argued in another post earlier today.

The claim of “unfair” election by the Trump crowd is also interesting because that’s how they also attack international trade. They don’t want free trade and free elections, but fair trade and fair elections. I suspect they also want fair speech instead of free speech and fair enterprise instead of free enterprise. As Anthony de Jasay suggests in his book Social Justice and the Indian Rope Trick (see my review in Regulation), fairness resembles social justice: it is now so empty a concept that it just means “nice”—nice from the point of view of the person who invokes it. Perhaps “fairness” is becoming, or has become, the rightists’ magic, sacramental key that corresponds to the left’s “social justice.”

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