Quite awhile ago, I penned a piece calling out our nation’s reliance on the “yeah, but” exception. I now watch President Trump and his lawyers fiercely contesting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by alleging that President-elect Biden stole it from him by committing massive election fraud, and I can’t help wondering if we are witnessing a national “Yeah, But…” moment.
Don’t get me wrong. President Trump has every right to contest the results of the election in court if he chooses. His administration, however, is required by law to start a transition process as soon as it becomes apparent who the winner of the presidential election will be. Joe Biden is undisputedly the apparent winner. President Trump’s administration has not started the required transition process though because they are digging in on the line that Joe Biden and the Democrat Party stole the election from President Trump.
President Trump’s lawyers have appeared in court, on television, and at new conferences. In every forum, they have proclaimed that they have indisputable evidence of massive voter fraud and that President Trump won the election in a massive landslide. They, however, have yet to produce any evidence – either in court or in the eye of the public – to support their claims beyond affidavits.
Affidavits are inherently disputable. While they are, indeed, statements made under oath, affidavits are statements unchallenged by cross-examination in a court of law or serious scrutiny by the public. Unchallenged statements can, and often do, rely heavily on ambiguous language. They also allow a person to assert that their perception of reality is indisputable without scrutinizing how accurate their perception was. In other words, affidavits do not constitute evidence that even comes close to supporting an allegation that massive voter fraud or cheating occurred in the 2020 presidential election.
The game being played right now, however, is not a legal one. It is a political one. President Trump does not need to overturn the election via the courts. Instead, he can make Joe Biden’s electoral victory a Pyrrhic victory in the same way that certain individuals made his 2016 victory a costly one.
There is no dispute that President Trump could never escape the shadow of possible Russian interference into the 2016 election. His entire term was plagued by investigations and even impeachment stemming from the accusation that his campaign might have colluded with the Russians. It now appears that his allies will seek to repay the Democrat Party and Joe Biden in kind.
The sad irony, however, is that President Trump and his allies have spent four years pointing out that undermining an existing administration on concocted charges is wrong, treasonous, and even unconstitutional. Politics, however, reign supreme, and they appear poised to invoke the “Yeah, but” exception to right, loyal, and constitutional norms.
The “Yeah, but” exception arises when a person admits that their course of action is wrong, but then seeks to justify their wrongful action by either pointing to someone else’s sins or appealing to some categorized virtue as justifying the means to an end.
President Trump and his allies have spent four years telling us that what they appear to be doing is wrong. Unless they produce solid evidence and quickly too or abandon their efforts altogether, it will become abundantly clear – to me at least – that they are engaged in a concerted effort to undermine a lawfully elected president, Joe Biden, in much the same way that President Trump was undermined throughout his first term. The fact that the Democrat party and holdovers from the Obama-Biden administration undermined President Trump does not justify what President Trump and his allies are doing now.
“Yeah, but” is never an acceptable answer to an American citizen who values his country. We appear to be witnessing a major “Yeah, but” moment in our nation’s history. If it succeeds, it will set a dangerous precedent. Whatever your political allegiances are, don’t accept a “Yeah, but.”