Why Trump Voters Don’t Trust the People Who Count the Votes

Why Trump Voters Don’t Trust the People Who Count the Votes. By Ryan McMaken.

If Trump supporters are unwilling to accept that the vote count in Georgia was fair — in a state where Republicans control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion — this means skepticism goes well beyond mere distrust of the Democratic Party. For Trump’s vote-count skeptics, not even the GOP or the nonpartisan election officials can be trusted to count the votes properly.

In the minds of many supporters, Trump embodies the anti-establishment party while his opponents can be found in both parties and in the nonpartisan administrative state itself. …

It only makes sense that Trump’s supporters would extend this distrust of the bureaucracy to those who count the votes. After all, who counts the votes has always been of utmost importance.

It’s why renowned political cartoonist Thomas Nast had Boss Tweed utter these words in an 1871 cartoon: “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?”

Old party bosses like Tweed are now out of the picture, but the votes nowadays are calculated and certified instead by people who, like Tweed, have their own ideological views and their own political interests. The official vote counts are handed down by bureaucratic election officials and by party officials, most of whom are outside the circles of Trump loyalists.

Given the outright political and bureaucratic opposition Trump has faced from other corners of the administrative state, there seems to be little reason for his supporters to trust those who count the votes. …

For the first time, under Trump, the American administrative state came to be widely viewed as a political force seeking to undermine a legitimately elected president, and as a political interest group in itself.

Naturally, the media and the administrative state itself have reacted to this with outrage and disbelief that anyone could believe that the professional technocrats and bureaucrats could have anything in mind other than selfless, efficient service to the greater good. The idea that lifelong employees of the regime might be biased against a man supposedly tasked with dismantling the regime was — we were assured — absurd. …

At least the old spoils system was honest in its bias:

The view of the American administrative state as impartial, nonideological, and aloof from politics has always been the naïve view, and one pushed by the Progressive reformers who created this class of permanent government “experts.”

Before these Progressives triumphed in the early twentieth century, this permanent class of technocrats, bureaucrats and “experts” did not exist in the United States. Prior to civil service reform in the late nineteenth century, most bureaucratic jobs — at all levels of government — were given to party loyalists. When Republicans won the White House, the Republican president filled bureaucratic positions with political supporters. Other parties did the same.

This was denounced by reformers, who maligned this system as “the spoils system.” Reformers insisted that American politics would be far less corrupt, more efficient, and less politicized, if permanently appointed experts in public administration were put into these positions instead. …

[But] civil service reform did not eliminate corruption or bias in the administration of the regime. Rather, the advent of the civil service only shifted bureaucratic power away from working-class party loyalists, and toward middle-class and university-educated personnel. These people, of course, had their own socioeconomic backgrounds and political agendas. …

Now what?

Today, of course, the bureaucracy continues to be characterized by ideological leanings of its own. For example, government workers, from the federal level down, skew heavily Democrat. They have more job security. They’re better paid. They’re less rural. They have more formal education. It’s a safe bet the bureaucracy isn’t chock full of Trump supporters. Civil service reform didn’t eliminate corruption and bias. It simply created a different kind.

Trump supporters recognize that these people don’t go away when “their guy” wins. These are permanent civil “servants” whom Trump supporters suspect — with good reason — have been thoroughly opposed to the Trump administration.

So, if the FBI and the Pentagon have already demonstrated their officials are willing to break and bend rules to obstruct Trump, why believe the administrative class when they insist elections are free and fair and all above board? Many have found little reason to do so.

Only one issue matters now: how to count the votes. The Republican (or a new Patriots Party, perhaps led by Trump) must now campaign above all for a fair voting system, to restore faith in democracy. That means paper ballots, ID checks, hand counting, and all parties scrutinizing the vote count and the ballots at all times.