Andrew McCarthy is an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer, and also a Trump supporter. He was the "yes" in that "yes-no-maybe" note about voting for Trump that I posted a few weeks ago. Like a lot of reasonable people, he thinks there are good grounds for believing that there was some cheating by the Democrats in this election. He thinks, for instance, that there could be as many as 10,000 questionable votes in Pennsylvania. But yet:
See, the president trails by 55,000 in Pennsylvania. It is anything but clear that all 10,000 late-arriving ballots are Biden votes — a goodly chunk of them could be Trump votes that the president would be knocking out. But even if we suspend disbelief and assume that they’re all Biden votes, the president would still be 45,000 short of flipping the state into his win column.
This is the president’s fatal problem. No matter which battleground state we analyze, there is always a mismatch between the impropriety alleged and the remedy that it could yield. Where Trump is strongest, as in the Supreme Court case, the yield in votes is a relative pittance. Where Trump’s claims are weaker and hotly disputed, the president is asking for mass disfranchisement, which no court is ever going to order.
I have not made much effort to follow the controversy, partly out of a feeling that something like McCarthy's view is probably the case, partly out of fatigue. As I've said quite a few times, I was appalled by Trump when he first became a serious candidate and did not vote for him in 2016, even though the Democrats have been completely out of the question for me for some time, for reasons which I don't think I need to bother mentioning. Because I live in a heavily Republican state, my vote wasn't going to affect the outcome, so I could afford the luxury of a third-party vote without feeling that I might have helped elect Hillary. (This year the plan put in place by some Democrats for evading the electoral college changed that calculation, making my vote potentially significant in a national count, so I voted for Trump.)
The reaction to Trump's win was so vicious and crazy ("literally a Nazi!"), especially as it was aimed not just at Trump himself but at those who supported him, that it made me not a Trump supporter, but, you might say, a Trump supporter supporter, defending his supporters from the hysterical attacks on them. I have a pretty good sense of what most Trump voters are like, and they are at least as likely to be good, decent people who want what's best for the country as Democrats. And it angers me to see them slandered and despised. (And even though I didn't vote for him I was implicitly being slandered and despised, too, because that's the way so many left-of-center deal with conservatives.)
Trump is not exactly a reflective man, but he had one big and accurate insight that was (and is) a major reason for his popularity: that the people running the country in the Obama years did not care about it as a specific concrete place, people, and culture. What interested them was the implementation of their grand vision--the promised "fundamental transformation" which thrilled some people and set off alarm bells for others. Many Trump enthusiasts recognized this, though, like him, they weren't necessarily good at articulating it, much less laying out the case against it in detail. They just knew they didn't like where things were going. That recognition sometimes, or maybe often, led them into some irrational and/or fanatical territory. But I think they were right in their basic perception, and so I defended them.
In time, too, I began to be angered by the dishonesty of many of the attacks on Trump himself, even though I don't think much of him myself. No good was done by making him out to be worse than he actually is; it only served to increase the general level of division and hatred in the country. Most of the press, our Pravda, participated, to their everlasting disgrace, in the effort to turn falsehoods about him into generally accepted truth (e.g. what has become known in conservative circles as "the Charlottesville hoax," which falsely asserted that he had called neo-Nazis "very fine people").
I hoped, like a lot of people, that when Trump took office he would settle down, rise to the office, and quit...well, quit doing all those things that make you think he has a screw loose. (One of the first things I wrote about him here was called "Donald Trump Is Not Right In the Head.") He didn't, of course. And of course he didn't do all the things he said he was going to do, some of which were obviously impossible or improbable, but he did do some good things, and I think Christians especially may have good reason to thank him for the Supreme Court justices he nominated.
He could have won this election. In spite of the fact that the Democrats and Pravda (which are pretty much the same thing) started trying to depose him the moment he was elected, and succeeded in making him seem even worse than he actually was, he remained pretty bad in many ways. As recently as this past summer--just to take one instance--he spent a couple of days suggesting that TV news host Joe Scarborough had murdered someone. The list goes on and on.
He could have won over a certain number of people who weren't necessarily for him but weren't unrelentingly hostile, either. He could have stopped going out of his way to alienate people. He could have refrained from vilifying people like Jeff Sessions who were on his side but disagreed with him. (He didn't only vilify him, but in doing so pretty well destroyed his political career. I take that personally, because Sessions was a capable senator from my state, and his place is now occupied by a Trump-supporting ignoramus.) He could have retained a lot of the swing voters who apparently went for him in 2016 but abandoned him this time. But he couldn't or wouldn't stop acting like the person who sounded more like a crank calling a radio talk show than the president of the United States.
It seems way too grandiose to call Trump a tragic figure, but it may be fair to say that his presidency was a tragedy for the country. He shook a corrupt establishment to its roots, and I think it remains shaken. But then by his faults, which he seemed utterly unwilling to see, much less try to change, he accomplished much less than he might have, almost certainly failed to win a second term, and by feeding the white-hot rage of the opposition divided the nation further and endangered what he did accomplish.