Sunday, November 15, 2020

In 2020 we're so busy counting votes that we risk missing the Gorilla amongst us

You've heard that we had an election. You're probably aware that popular opinion says that the guy I wanted to lose might not have. You're probably aware that some people claim that they see evidence of election fraud. People are even so focused upon what they think they know, that otherwise sensible people are almost routinely coming to conclusions about about hundreds of allegations of electoral fraud, while having no idea of what's contained in those allegations. Are the allegations legitimate? I have no idea, but at least I realize that.
I've already posted on why it's unwise to celebrate anyone as 'President Elect' at this point, so I'm not going to focus on those points again, and that really is no longer what we need to be most aware of right now. The biggest issue we face right now is that everyone is focusing so intently on who will win the election, that they are distracting themselves from seeing the changed nature of the situation we find ourselves in, and that is what I want to redirect people's attention to.

There's an old awareness experiment that you may have been shown in school, or have heard being discussed (Jordan Peterson makes some interesting observations on it here ), about people being asked to very carefully watch a short video of people with white shirts on who are passing basketballs around with people in black shirts, and the viewers were asked to see if they could accurately count the number of times a basketball changes hands.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen this yet, watch it now, it's less than two minutes long, and see if you can accurately count how many times the basketball is passed, and then read on.

Ok, here's the spoiler: some people are able to accurately count the number of times the people in white shirts pass the basketball around (I don't remember if I did or not), but a great many people are entirely unable to answer the next question that were asked, which is this:
  • Did you spot the Gorilla?
Most people laugh at that, thinking it's a joke. It isn't. A large person wearing a gorilla suit wanders into the scene, walks right through the midst of the people passing the basketball around, beats his chest, and walks out. I remember that I noticed the gorilla (walking out, I missed his entrance and the chest beating). However, there were a couple of other key details that I completely missed.

The point being, that when we are intently focused on observing one thing, we are in danger of being unaware of other significant issues occurring right in front of our faces. And so my question to you who are focused upon projections of electoral counts that have still not yet been counted, and those of you who are focused on celebrating your 'President Elect', and also those of you who are so sure that your guy didn't lose, is this:
Do you know what it means when a major candidate has not conceded the election, and has collected sworn affidavits at the penalty of perjury of attesting to electoral fraud, and has filed lawsuits in several states, on that?
What it means, is that we are no longer in the midst of a normal election that is centered around counting the votes to see who won. What we are in the midst of now, is a contested election, and unless every single one of those charges and affidavits are determined by proper means to be without merit in a very short period of time, there are numerous federal and state laws and procedures which normally aren't felt in an election, and those unfamiliar laws and procedures will take affect, and they don't give a damn about what either CNN or the GOP have predicted about the election. H/T to the Freedom Center of Missouri (one of a very few firms to win electoral challenges) for this flowchart, taken from this NYT article:
"...If lawsuits and recounts persist — and if vote margins are razor thin in key states — it could be weeks before President Trump or Joseph R. Biden Jr. is named the winner. In some scenarios, the contest could drag into 2021...."
We're no longer on the smooth bottom path
My position is not and has not been about whether the accusations of electoral fraud are warranted or not, but only on the obvious fact that they have been officially filed, which moves us beyond the familiar smooth process (bottom of the flowchart) of simply counting votes, and into the differing processes that kick into gear in a contested election, and those processes are not necessarily concerned with how many ballots were cast for who in the popular vote - the measures being triggered right now could even (unlikely but very possible) result in those ballots being cast off by the various state legislatures, discarding their state's popular vote altogether (BTW, our Constitution makes no mention of a Popular Vote, only State laws do, and personally, I wish neither did), and those state legislatures could have their chosen electors cast the votes themselves, or they could decide to have new electors be appointed, or the votes might end up not being certified at all, or any number of other entirely unpredictable twists and turns could come into play in each contested state. And after all of that, even more could come into play as the newly sworn in federal congress becomes involved, and all talk about transition teams is incredibly premature and reckless. 

IOW: Polls and projections are even less meaningful now, than they were before the election. It's possible that all of the states will resolve the allegations in time, getting back on track, but how prepared are you for the other possibility?

There's an interesting three part series on what is involved in the Electoral Process, and how it actually works when the unexpected happens, written before the election on the Lawfare blog (which is generally hostile to Trump). Part one, covers where we are in the process right now, on the several possibilities for how the processes may proceed in the states, Part Two covers Congress's role in counting the electoral votes, and Part Three goes into what happens when no candidate secures a majority of electors.

People who have taken my caution and opposition to calling Biden 'President Elect', as not wanting to face reality (I'm far more focused on what is really happening than on what I might have wished to happen) are, I suspect, so focused upon their candidate winning, and especially on the Orange Man Bad losing, that they are missing the large gorilla of contention that's right in front of their faces, beating its chest and getting ready to punch them in the nose. I'm very much aware that who I want to lose, may not (and I'll be fine with that, once it's actually officially run its course) - but that process is defined by numerous state and federal laws, and not by media predictions, and it has a strong potential for unfolding in wildly unexpected twists & turns, and my concern is that people's foolish celebrations are going to send their tender psyche's into a head-on collision with reality.

The Gorilla of a Contested Election is wandering through our electoral process right now, and those people who are so intent on counting or predicting votes that they are oblivious to the changed nature of this now contested election, are running the risk of being blindsided by reality in a very big way, and I suspect that there are some people who are very much counting on that, and looking forward to the chaos that would result from it.

I have no idea whether the election will ultimately go 'my way', or not, and neither does anyone else. The process we've entered into is unpredictable. You ignore that at not only your own risk, but your negligence contributes towards putting everyone else at risk as well. 

Please, stop doing that.

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