In a recent article in the Des Moines Register, “Opinion: Donald Trump’s Defense Disqualifies Him From High Political Office,” Communications Professors Kenneth Zagacki and Richard Cherwitz shamelessly attempt to give a veneer of academic credibility to the stereotype that former President Trump may be counted as one of the “fascists and totalitarian . . . authoritarian leaders” just as previous detractors attempted to promote the “Bush is Hitler” stereotype.
They claim that Trump’s belief that “Democrats stole the election from him” reveals character flaws associated with authoritarian leaders because Trump supposedly claimed “direct, immediate apprehension or visions of truth without the need for critical reflection” which justified his “ignoring advisers, courts, expert legal and political officials (including his own attorney general), independent journalists, . . . the majority of the American people [and] . . . overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Zagacki and Cherwitz’s premise that Trump ignored “advisers, courts, expert legal and political officials (including his own attorney general), independent journalists, . . . the majority of the American people [and] . . . overwhelming evidence to the contrary [of the stolen election conclusion]” is patently false.
Trump did not ignore advisors, including expert legal authorities, but believed some and not others. For example, he credited the legal advice of attorneys John Eastman and Christ Troupis on election fraud. Troupis noted that Trump’s “knowledge and grasp of complex legal issues and facts was astonishing.”
Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr, who suggested that there was not sufficient fraud to affect the election outcome, was accused by former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bill McSwain of telling him to refrain from investigating voter fraud. While Barr claimed he allowed such investigations, he told a White House liaison to the DOJ that the DOJ would not investigate any election fraud due to federalism concerns. Finally, a Freedom of Information Act request was made to the DOJ attorney generals in the swing states and at the DOJ main office for investigative records of election fraud investigations. The response was that no such records existed, meaning no such investigations were done. If you don’t investigate election law violations, you can’t find them. So much for “ignoring” Bill Barr.
Apparently, Professors Zagacki and Cherwitz are ignorant of independent journalists, such as Molly Hemmingway, who investigated the Zuckerbucks operation that turned impartial government voter registration offices into partisan get-out-the-vote operations for Democrats, and Miranda Devine, who investigated the Hunter Biden laptop.
While the professors claim that the majority of Americans would not support Trump’s conclusions on fraud, an April 2021 Rasmussen poll found that 51% of voters believed that cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 election. A December 2021 Schoen Cooperman Research Poll showed that 47 percent of voters agree with the statement, “There were real cases of fraud in the 2020 election that changed the results.” Forty-one percent disagree with that statement.
While Zagacki and Cherwitz claim, without citing any evidence to support their conclusion, that there was ”overwhelming evidence” against the stolen election thesis, there is actually “overwhelming evidence” that the 2020 election was far from normal and would give any reasonable person cause to suspect fraud.
First, there were massive violations of election laws in the battleground states. In Wisconsin, for example, Look Ahead America found that at least 24,037 ballots were cast illegally by voters claiming, for the first time, that they were indefinitely confined, and able to vote absentee without an ID, who were not actually indefinitely confined. Thousands of voters relied on the claim, made by the Wisconsin Election Commission, that the combination of Covid and the public health emergency meant that they were “indefinitely confined” and allowed to vote absentee without presenting identification before the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared that to be illegal.
In the City of Madison, Wisconsin alone, over 200 ballot drop boxes were set up resulting in 17,271 illegal votes.
In later finding that drop boxes were illegal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court observed that:
“If the right to vote is to have any meaning at all, elections must be conducted according to law. . . . “The right to vote presupposes the rule of law governs elections. If elections are conducted outside of the law, the people have not conferred their consent on the government. Such elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate.”
. . .
“Electoral outcomes obtained by unlawful procedures corrupt the institution of voting, degrading the very foundation of free government. Unlawful votes do not dilute lawful votes so much as they pollute them, which in turn pollutes the integrity of the results. . . . When the level of pollution is high enough, the fog creates obscurity, and the institution of voting loses its credibility as a method of ensuring the people’s continued consent to be governed.”
Teigen v. Wis. Elections Comm’n, 976 N.W.2d 519, 2022 WI 64 (Wis. 2022).
By this standard, the legitimacy of anyone, even Trump, elected under unlawful procedures could be reasonably questioned.
The total number of illegal votes in Wisconsin from four sources was projected by Look Ahead America to be 157,299. The entire vote difference in the Wisconsin election was only 20,427 votes.
Second, those states allowing illegal absentee balloting allowed precisely the kind of voting that is most susceptible to fraud. As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals observed in 2004, “Voting fraud is a serious problem in U.S. elections[,] … and it is facilitated by absentee voting. In this respect absentee voting is to voting in person as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.” Griffin v. Roupas, 385 F.3d 1128, 1130–31 (7th Cir. 2004).
Third, Mark Zuckerberg, a liberal billionaire, used $400 million, through intermediaries, to turn what were supposed to be impartial government election offices in Wisconsin and other states into get-out-the-vote machines for Democrats. This increased the Democratic vote enough to swing the election. This would be expected in a dictatorship or an oligarchy, but not in America.
Fourth, the FBI and CIA, while knowing that the Hunter Biden laptop was authentic, encouraged 50 former intelligence officials to falsely claim, without evidence, that the laptop was “Russian disinformation”. This enabled Joe Biden to claim, in his debate with Trump, that the evidence of bribery and unethical dealings with Ukraine and China found on the laptop was false.
Fifth, there was a massive government operation to censor conservative sources under the guise of stopping “disinformation”.
If the premises of an argument are false, then the conclusion is false. The premises underlying Professors Kenneth Zagacki’s and Richard Cherwitz’s caricature of President Trump as a fascist, authoritarian or totalitarian are false. Therefore, their conclusion is false. Their article is merely another anti-Trump hit piece.
Donald W. Bohlken of Indianola is an attorney and a retired administrative law judge with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. He worked for seven years combined at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission as an investigator and then for 21 years as an administrative law judge at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Department of Inspections and Appeals. He received his J.D. with Honors from Drake University in 1986.