Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life.
So are conspiracies.
I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains — even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat — who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen attempt to reverse the Republican victories in the state’s Senate, gubernatorial, and (not to be overlooked) agriculture commissioner’s races. I cannot imagine that there is, but it is really quite something to see partisan Democrats — the same people who pretend to believe that the 2016 presidential election was invalid because Boris and Natasha posted something on Facebook — watch not only utterly contented but with joy in their hearts as the rolling crime wave that is Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and her coconspirators try to actually steal an election or three.
Boxes of ballots magically showing up in the trunks of rental cars in the Fort Lauderdale airport — cars last rented by Democratic operatives? What is this, a Coen Brothers movie? At least Saddam Hussein had the good taste to be amusing when he was stuffing the ballot boxes.
That voting fraud that our Democratic friends insist never happens happens quite a lot under Snipes’s watch. She has allowed disenfranchised felons and illegal aliens to vote; sent out mail-in ballots in which a proposed constitutional amendment was simply omitted; secretly opened ballots to thwart oversight. Her team doesn’t seem to be able to add up votes very quick — except when they add them up too quickly: In one truly banana-republic shenanigan, her office posted a final vote tally while the polls were still open. Rick Scott’s team has detailed much of this in its legal complaint against her.
Think on that: Let a Republican-run state ask voters for photo identification at the polls and there’s a whole Götterdämmerung worth of wailing and alarum, but when Brenda Snipes openly flouts the law and dares anybody to try to do anything about it, that’s the epitome of democracy?
People turn to conspiracy theories for all sorts of reasons, but one of those reasons is that corrupt Democratic officials in state and federal governments — this is not an equally bipartisan problem — have by their criminal actions rendered those kinds of suspicions more plausible. Nobody — nobody who isn’t stupid — really thinks that Lois Lerner and her Democratic colleagues at the Internal Revenue Service were just doing trying to do their duty when they illegally targeted and harassed Tea Party groups and other critics of the Obama administration. Nobody really believes that Hillary Rodham Clinton is just some dotty old bat who doesn’t know how email works. No rational adult believes that HSS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, EPA boss Lisa Jackson (a.k.a. “Richard Windsor”), and all those other Obama-administration officials were using secret email accounts set up under fake names to avoid getting spam in their in-boxes. It is difficult to believe that it was pure coincidence that John Kerry’s stepson went into the foreign-investment business with Joe Biden’s son at just the moment their fathers were in a position to shape U.S. foreign policy. It’s one thing to be an angry partisan — it’s another thing to abandon all self-respect and pretend not to see what you see.
And that’s just at the federal level: Who can defend corrupt Texas prosecutor Rosemary Lehmberg’s prosecution of Rick Perry or her predecessor’s laughable prosecutions of Tom DeLay and Kay Bailey Hutchison as anything other than naked political vendettas?
Are we supposed to not notice that a group of Democratic activists in Texas have just been indicted as part of a voting-fraud ring?
Whatever bedtime stories Democrats tell themselves so that they can sleep at night, this stuff is obvious corruption. Philadelphia has a long history of voting shenanigans, from elections that had to be overturned because of rampant vote fraud (“We found ballots cast on behalf of dead people, fictitious people and real people living in such places as Las Vegas, Greenland and Crete,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported about one case. “We found ballots cast from vacant lots and abandoned buildings”) to the rather active citizenship of “Joseph J. Cheeseboro,” who has voted in at least eight elections — sometimes twice — in spite of his registered addresses being a vacant lot and a 7-Eleven.
The bigger problem is this: Even if Brenda Snipes were simply a wildly incompetent dope with no business overseeing anything more complicated than the slow assembly of a Lego project — and I mean one of the little kids’ Duplo sets, not even the real-deal full-on Lego — the history of obvious and undeniable corruption in electoral and related matters makes malfeasance a perfectly reasonable supposition.
Petty corruption and non-petty corruption both undermine faith in public institutions and democratic processes. The less people trust in those institutions, the less effective those institutions are. People either become less inclined to participate in those corrupted processes or — seeing the corruption and assuming that it represents the normal and expected state of play — come to accept or even to encourage similar corruption on their own side. One suspects that the Democrats spend so much time wailing about “disenfranchisement” — which is how they describe the enforcement of ordinary voting laws and standards of credibility — for precisely that reason. If you tell yourself that you are just trying to level the playing field, you can justify all kinds of corruption.
The Democrats have been playing with fire for a long time. Both Florida and the United States offer criminal penalties for official misconduct regarding elections. It is time to make an example.