America Has Forgotten the Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Fair Elections

November 9, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020

Commentary

North of the 49th parallel, the U.S. president’s early warnings about using the pandemic as an excuse to depart from long-standing democratic voting practices went largely unreported.

But, as it turns out, Republican distress over the perils of mass early voting, the distribution of millions of unsolicited mail-in ballots, and the acceptance of post-election day vote deliveries proved catastrophically prophetic. In the wake of last week’s events, some troubling concerns have been raised about the future of American democracy.

Political philosophers, with the exception of those of the revolutionary Marxist persuasion, have always understood that electoral democracy is a way of changing leadership without recourse to intimidation and violence. Free citizens generally agree.

More recently, however, leading members of the American left appear to have conveniently forgotten the necessary and sufficient conditions required to produce fair and accurate election results.

This doesn’t bode well for the reputation of American democracy, because it’s primarily the citizen’s ability to participate in an honest election process that leads to the obligation to obey the laws and regulations determined by duly elected leaders and representatives.

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Fair Elections

To revert for a moment to some logistical language, a necessary cause is a condition that must be present for an event to come about. A sufficient cause is a single, or a set of conditions, that will dependably produce a particular event or outcome.

A necessary condition must be there, but it alone doesn’t provide sufficient cause for the event to occur. In other words, all the necessary elements must be present to produce a desired result.

If the desired result is a fair election, reasonable people generally agree that there are at least four necessary conditions required to produce honest results and give the outcome the legitimacy required for a peaceful transfer of power in a democratic society.

First, elections must be periodic. Generally, periods between two and seven years are considered acceptable for the election of various legislative and executive branches in most Western democracies.

Second, in order to give citizens a fair choice, the system must provide wide opportunities for different people to run for office.

Third, there must be a high degree of freedom of speech. Restrictions on communication, the right to assemble, and access to information inhibit and pervert a fair electoral process. When open discourse is limited and dominant formative agencies promote a particular choice, an electoral campaign cannot function as it should.

Fourth, longstanding rules for elections established by legislatures must be strictly agreed upon and respected. Elections can be complicated procedures, and many nations use different methods to conduct them. The way votes are cast and counted has a profound effect on the way people view the legitimacy of the outcome.

Does America Still Possess the Sufficient Conditions for Democracy?

There’s no such thing as the “will of the people” independent of the means chosen to measure it. Elections are sacred moments in the life of a nation when citizens reaffirm a personal commitment to constitutional procedures.

But, a significant cohort of Americans no longer appear to value all the necessary and sufficient conditions for the preservation of a functional democracy. Only two of the four necessary conditions for arriving at legitimate electoral outcomes seem to have survived the founding of the republic.

In the United States, regular, periodic elections have remained in place since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The voluntary retirement of America’s first president, George Washington, set a historical precedent for the timely transference of political leadership.

Regarding the question of who can run for office, certain legal and extra-legal restrictions applied throughout the evolution of American democracy. But since the Civil Rights Bills of the 1960s, an unlimited variety of U.S. citizens from diverse class, race, and gender backgrounds have enjoyed the opportunity to run for public office. Even candidates who seek to fundamentally transform the founding principles of the republic are entitled to run for the highest positions in the land.

Periodic elections and wide-open opportunities to run for office are necessary conditions for lawful elections, but they’re not sufficient in themselves to produce a fair result.

With regard to free speech and full access to information, present conditions in the United States fall well short of what’s required for a properly functioning liberal democracy. For decades now, political dissent has been restrained by a dominant ideological press corps and high-tech communication platforms that have an overwhelming bias for the “progressive” side of the political spectrum.

With the exception of what amounts to a “samizdat” press on the populist-conservative side, the combined influence of big media, big tech platforms, big banks, big education, big entertainment, and big China interests have marshalled all the means required to shape and protect the progressive political narrative.

For more than a century, powerful opinion-makers have sought to delegitimize American traditions, ridicule the intelligence of the common voter, undermine confidence in the nation’s founding principles, and prepare enough people to accept a 21st-century quasi-Marxist revolution through the ballot box.

The suppression of the Biden family’s pay-for-play scandal with Beijing was a blatant example of big tech’s inclination to hide information that should have been accessible to voters before they cast a ballot.

Broken Elections

This year appears to have ushered in an end of free and fair elections in the United States. Under the cover of COVID-19 concerns, several states distributed millions of unsolicited mail-in ballots long before election day and made plans to count votes well after the polls closed on Nov. 3. These unprecedented actions led to a catastrophic failure of the American electoral system.

People consent to be governed to the extent that public office holders are seen to be fairly elected. Disagreements about leadership style or policy positions are not normally considered to be a good reason for open disobedience or coup attempts, because we trust that there’s always an opportunity to replace elected leadership in a forthcoming fair election.

Most democracies permit citizens who are registered on a predetermined electoral list to solicit an absentee ballot and cast it through the mail. But, for some very sound reasons, voting in this manner is seldom a general practice.

The idea of the secret ballot, cast in person after a verification of voter identity, on a designated day, in the privacy of a voting booth, is an affirmation of the citizen’s individual right to make an electoral decision independent of undue interference by other parties.

Well before the decisions to systematically alter this process were taken, one could imagine multiple ways in which citizens receiving unsolicited ballots might find themselves voting under the direct influence of other parties or giving up their ballots to be harvested by partisan activists.

The uncontrolled nature of the ballot distribution, the acceptance of late votes, and refusals to allow scrutineers to verify the count was an invitation for fraud, corruption, and distrust in the results.

Canadians must strongly object to such practices ever becoming part of our own electoral process.

A Monumental Political Swindle

What began by looking like a healthy election day turnout on Nov. 3 and several promising paths to victory for the incumbent president turned into a slow post-election reversal of Donald Trump’s battle-ground state leads and a highly controversial outcome in favor of a Democrat candidate who many believe is unlikely to see out a complete term of office.

Americans may never be able to be fully certain who cast all the faceless votes that may have given Joe Biden the presidency or how many may have been illegally harvested from the millions of ballots that were distributed across America.

From Fox News’ Jedediah Bila, to scores of mainstream media pundits across the country, Americans are now being instructed to accept the conclusion that there was “no evidence of voter fraud.” The tactic is eerily similar to that of Mafia gangsters, who, despite the fact that the bodies of their enemies are all over the streets, look authorities in the eye and say, “Ya can’t prove nothin’, Chumps!”

One thing, however, is certain: About half of America’s people and scores of America’s friends throughout the world view the 2020 U.S. presidential election as a failure of the democratic process and a monumental political swindle.

William Brooks is a writer and educator based in Montreal. He currently serves as editor of “The Civil Conversation” for Canada’s Civitas Society and is an Epoch Times contributor.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.