The people want a Kraken

For years, Democrats have banged their drum on voter suppression. They’ve played on the belief that Republican-controlled state houses and governor’s mansions have systematically and conspiratorially put roadblocks up for minorities to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. This drum continues to beat even today:

The Democrats have a Kraken, and this is it. Stacey Abrams maintains that Brian Kemp “stole” the 2018 gubernatorial election by suppressing minority votes. There are people who know better, but continue to believe and promote this despite solid and inarguable evidence to the contrary. It is upon this narrative, and the objective facts it belies, that Abrams built her playbook. Even Abrams doesn’t believe anything was “stolen” from her. She used the real numbers in her plan, and her plan worked.

But the people want there to be a Kraken. Democrats want to believe that “the man” and “the system” are stacked against minorities in the most heinous ways. Many minority leaders maintain their influence by fighting bogeymen, crypto-Nazis and the KKK, even when the actual groups are tiny, non-influential, and cowardly. It’s the perception that, for instance, a white Atlanta police chief is responsible for Rayshard Brooks’ death (he was a Black man), therefore a Black police chief would do better.

In the 2020 presidential election, Trump supporters get to play victim, and they want there to be a Kraken. The facts are clear here: As David French riffed, “The Kraken is Lackin’.” But since when has something’s physical non-existence stopped people from believing in it? This applies especially when the odds of the event in question happening without external interference approaches a gazillion (or one in one quadrillion).

This is where French and I disagree just a little bit. I’ll say, from a fact and law perspective, French is right: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s “case” against the 2020 election is a big fat nothingburger. But his case isn’t about facts and law as it stands. Paxton’s case is about narrative, perception, and the process by which law and procedure is achieved.

Yes, that’s not a matter for the Supreme Court to decide, you say (and French said it), because it’s a political issue. Yet when the optics and the narrative of politics becomes so tilted that there’s no remedy, the Court has stepped in. I don’t believe they’ll step in here, but the perception remains. Perception is a powerful thing.

Paxton cites a number: one in a quadrillion, as the odds Trump could lose in four states, having a lead at 3 a.m. after Election Day, when most of the in-person votes have been tabulated. Of course, that doesn’t include the unprecedented number of mail-in votes that had not been tabulated—ones that Trump and his supporters call “ballot dumps.” Now the facts show that these were real votes, and they just hadn’t been counted.

But the narrative is that these ballots constituted a completely different presidential race from the in-person ballots cast on Election Day. There were really two elections, one by mail and one in-person, and they had different rules and ever-changing processes. That these were necessary because of an ongoing pandemic doesn’t explain them away, says Paxton and other Trump supporters. From a legal perspective, you can’t argue ex-post facto, and come up with a cure based on some unwanted outcome. But from a narrative perception, you can argue that the outcome is unfair based on the process that produced it.

Sound familiar? That’s the same argument Democrats have been pounding for years. “The man” and “the system” are rigged against them. In this realm, it’s the Supreme Court that’s broken, and it’s the state governors, secretaries of state, and election officials who have conspired to “steal the election” from its rightful winner, Donald Trump. It’s really no different, except that Trump doesn’t back away from saying it, even as he sits in the Oval Office.

The Kraken has to exist, because the results demand it, and the people demand it, even if the facts clearly show it’s not there.