Was The 2012 Election Lost Or Stolen?

The following is an edited version of my reply to a pile of emails I’ve received with allegations that the 2012 election was stolen. Most of them focused on a legal injunction, stemming from past efforts to intimidate legitimate voters, that prohibits the RNC from engaging in voter fraud prevention activities in certain precincts with high percentages of minority voters. I had pointed out that “the RNC is not the GOP, and there is nothing preventing state parties, national campaigns (Romney’s included) or other organizations from addressing voter fraud in those precincts where the RNC’s past behavior has earned these restrictions.” The friend who forwarded these emails hopes to build support for a grand jury investigation that he believes could end with the entire popular vote results in several states being discarded, sending the election to the House of Representatives. While we all know who would come out ahead in such a preposterous scenario, there simply isn’t a whistle-blower’s chance in Quantico that this could ever happen. Besides, I’m not convinced that what little voter fraud there was had any impact on the outcome, and, as readers of this blog know, I seriously question whether Romney would have been any better, on balance, than Obama. As I told my friend,

“If we (as in the Republican party) want to understand what went wrong in this election cycle we’d better start by looking in the mirror. I don’t believe this election was stolen, at least not by votes being cast illegally. There seems to have been some of that but not nearly enough to change the results. Obama won because he went out there and made an impassioned argument for wealth redistribution and the nanny state, and a large portion of the electorate bought it. There’s We the People for you. That We did so is frightening. But what was the alternative?

“Let’s face it, the GOP leadership hasn’t backed a presidential candidate who was willing to make the case for economic or individual freedom for a very long time. If we don’t like the direction of the country we need to see to it that the next election offers We the People a genuine choice. That needs to start with a long-overdue shakeup within the GOP, not with throwing out We the People’s votes because they reflect ignorance, greed and immorality.”

His response was that while Romney left a lot to be desired, he believed in an America that was good for business, would never have let four Americans be killed in Benghazi and was vastly better than Obama. (Talk about blind faith; the last Republican president let three thousand Americans be killed right here at home.) A third party to the exchange asked me to post my response here. So for whatever it’s worth, here it is:

“Bottom line – I worry that this focus on election rigging is a distraction from the real problem, which is that team A and team B do not represent different directions for the country. Your comment that Romney believed in an America that is good for business is about as specific as his campaign ever was. The Benghazi furor is just smoke and mirrors. We have no idea what really happened, but all the military brass publicly denies ever being told to stand down, and contrary to popular right-wing static, no flag officers were relieved of duty. Look it up anywhere you like; Carter Ham is still AFRICOM commander and is scheduled to retire next spring.

“And even if someone was told to stand down, that could well have been a tactical decision that saved many more lives in the long run. Washington himself had to “stand down” on more than one occasion and allow part of his army to be lost rather than risk a bigger disaster. Any blame associated with Benghazi belongs to the irresponsible CIA, as well as the fools who embroiled us in the Libyan civil war to begin with, including not only Obama and his henchmen but nearly the entire Republican establishment, including Romney. And Romney wanted us to do the same in Syria.

“You couldn’t fit a business card between Romney and Obama on foreign policy. Neither of them had a credible plan to balance the budget or pay down the debt. Both believed or claimed to believe that government can create jobs. Both promised to protect entitlement programs that are unsustainable. Both supported government-run healthcare and government-mandated health insurance. Both were interventionists and supported trashing the Bill of Rights because of the terrorist threat created by decades of interventionist policies. Both supported government control of the internet. Both were in bed with agribusiness and opposed to freeing small farmers from the current suffocating regulatory burdens. Both supported the trend toward a police state and used national security as a magic excuse for unlimited executive power. Both believed that Israel should be able to force America into a war with Iran. Both supported the extra-judicial assassination of American citizens. Both held that naked body-scans and strip searches are a necessary part of keeping us safe.

“Yes, Romney was (at least rhetorically) better than Obama on abortion and religious freedom. I voted for him because of that difference. But many Americans don’t agree with you and I there. Fact is, we couldn’t have picked a worse candidate. And now we are suffering the consequences.

“For me, this election was lost 9 months ago. I just don’t see the life-or-death struggle between Romney’s and Obama’s respective visions for the future of America. There is precious little that sets them apart, and that little wasn’t enough to sufficiently inspire conservative voters.

“You asked if we will have another election. Why not? They seem to work out well for the statists and still allow the people to feel like they are in control. I don’t see why the establishment wouldn’t want to keep the game up as long as possible. Even the Soviets had elections, and our two party system is vastly superior to their single party affair. Bill Clinton’s mentor and Georgetown law professor Carroll Quigley wrote thirty years ago in Tragedy And Hope that it was essential for powerful nations to have two political parties with opposing rhetoric but similar underlying policies, so that the voters could “throw the bad guys out” in any given election without causing “instability.”

“I am certainly not a fatalist, and you are right about the need for prayer. Please forgive my inability to see how a Romney presidency would save our country, or even give us another chance. Americans need to change before anything else, and prayer is indeed the first step in that change.”

Freedom, God and Right?

My five year old son loves to sing Men of Harlech. He fell in love with the Welsh anthem after hearing a stirring rendition by folk singer Charlie Zahm. He requests the CD every time we get in the car together, and randomly belts out the first verse without hesitation and, generally, without mistakes:

Men of Harlech, in the hollow,
Do ye hear, like rushing billow,
Wave on wave, that surging follow
Battle’s distant sound?
‘Tis the tramp of Saxon foemen –
Saxon spearmen, Saxon bowmen;
Be they knights, or hinds, or yeomen,
They shall bite the ground.
Loose the folds asunder-
Flag we conquer under!
The placid sky, now bright on high,
Shall launch its bolts in thunder!
Onward! ‘Tis our country needs us;
He is bravest, he who leads us!
Honor’s self now proudly heads us –
Freedom, God and Right!

Here it typically devolves into Daaa na naaa na naa naa naa naa – which, considering the gory detail of the second verse, is good enough for a five year old boy. I’m in no hurry to shatter his innocence with the realities of war. For him, Men of Harlech is just his favorite “marching song.”

It happens to be one of my favorites as well, though in a more complex way. I have never heard it sung without having to fight back tears. Men of Harlech is a story of tragedy on so many levels. The image of common citizens rushing to the death against an invading army in defense of their homes and villages is always powerfully moving. From an historical perspective, knowing how the story ends (in a long siege and the ultimate defeat of the Welsh) doesn’t help. For the Christian, the violence anticipated in the second verse is a chilling reminder of the depravity of fallen humanity and the brokenness of God’s once perfect creation; for one who loves his fellow man, it is an equally chilling picture of the effects of war on the better instincts of human nature.

Rocky steeps and passes narrow
Flash with spear and flight of arrow;
Who would think of death or sorrow?
Death is glory now!
Hurl the reeling horsemen over,
Let the earth dead foemen cover;
Fate of friend, of wife, of lover,
Trembles on a blow!
Strands of life are riven,
Blow for blow is given
In deadly lock, or battle shock,
And “mercy!” shrieks to heaven!
Men of Harlech! young or hoary,
Would you win a name in story?
Strike! for home, for life, for glory!
Freedom, God and right!

But what saddens me the most every time I hear this song is the repeated line, “Freedom, God and Right!” Oh yes, these are things worth fighting and giving one’s life for. But how often these words are subordinated to a self-interested agenda that has nothing to do with them! How many American soldiers have died thinking they were defending our freedoms, when in reality they were pawns in a global chess game? How many are killing and being killed in the Middle East, believing that their actions and sacrifices are saving the lives of Americans here at home, when in fact the terrorist threat against us only intensifies? How many soldiers know the obscene amounts of money being pocketed by businessmen and politicians as a result of the wars they are called on to fight? How many American taxpayers believe that the daily killings carried out at our expense are somehow connected to our freedoms, or the survival of God’s chosen people, or whatever cause the war lobbyists have appended to their latest scheme?

Then, too, I can’t help but note the contrast between the circumstances of the Welsh peasantry and America today. The Welsh, like America’s founders, fought an invading army on their own doorsteps. But these days our country is too often the aggressor, making insolent demands of other nations while benevolently extending the twin inducements of billions for the compliant and bombs for the recalcitrant. The America that once was a beacon of hope and a symbol of freedom is now a global exporter of death. The America that went beyond any nation in history to limit executive and military power now claims a lawful right to invade anywhere it sees fit, without even declaring war; to assassinate anyone it sees fit, even its own citizens; to execute citizens of another nation en masse, in peacetime, on their own soil, without even an illusion of due process to protect the innocent.

That, for me, is the foremost reason this song evokes such an emotional response. I can’t help but grieve that America has lost, or rather abandoned, her historic place in the world. Sure, she is still a “world leader” – a superpower – for whatever that is worth. But it was freedom that made America great, and it was a distinctly Christian view of law and government that made America free. Her greatest influence for good in the world preceded, rather than followed, her superpower status. Today, even as America daily trashes her founding ideals, most Americans seem to care only about remaining great. But at what cost? We’ve collectively abandoned the moral foundations, the respect for life, liberty and property, that made self-government possible. We have rejected the proposition that all men are created equal, in favor of arrogance wrapped in red, white and blue. That arrogance, sooner or later, will bring this nation to her knees more effectively than any number of terrorists ever could.

So what of these powerful words? When we think of “Freedom, God and Right” do we think of moral standards by which we should measure our actions on the world stage? Or are they slogans that we get to use because we are America? Do we seek to be right and to do right, or do we presume to define “right” to our liking? Like many empires before us, I fear we are guilty of the latter. That is a tragedy, not just for us, but for the entire world.