Election Fraud, Unrest, and the Legacy of Trump

Saw this from Moldbug

Vae victis


Over the past few weeks I have been seeing this narrative by the dissident/alt-right (but also some on the left, too) that the widespread belief among Trump voters of election fraud is societally destabilizing and poses systemic risks.  I take the opposite stance that it is not destabilizing. People I would otherwise consider intelligent, empirically-minded, and ‘grounded in reality’ are seriously entertaining such a far-fetched possibility that has no historical precedent. I think way too many people got too emotionally invested in the outcome of the 2020 election and it is distorting their sense or perspective of reality.


In writing this post I spent a while trying to think of scenarios in which the widespread perception of the election being stolen leads to unrest, but couldn’t think of any. The most probable outcome is things resume how they left off.

It is funny how in the comments people keep calling him Moldbug or Yarvin even though nowhere in the blog does he make any allusions or references to being Moldbug and he discontinued his old blog over 5 years ago. It is like he cannot shed the Moldbug title, as hard as he may try to.

He writes:

Yet the 50 million are still a problem. A democracy in which the losing party routinely and effectively delegitimizes the election is not a stable democracy. No one is thrilled that this seems to be the new normal. It is not surprising that the system tries to solve this problem, for it is a real problem. But we can learn something by its approach.


If you feel confident in the integrity of some system, and someone questions that integrity, your natural impulse is to check its integrity one more time, as exhaustively and transparently as possible—unless you think being convincing is unimportant.

But America is not a democracy. If anyone should know this, it is him. It is a sort of amalgamation of a constitutional republic, technocracy, corporatocracy, or ‘managerial state’–what it exactly is, is hard to describe–but I think we can say with a high degree of certainty that it is not a democracy. So for America to fall short of such democratic ideals, only means that it fell short of something which it never was.

50 million dems in 2000 thought the election was stolen via the Supreme Court. Many felt the same in 2004 and in 2016 (stolen by Russian Facebook trolls), yet nothing happened, only that the left’s opinion of the US government and the ‘democratic process’ was diminished. There were far more incidents of unrest during the ’90s, in which the outcomes of the 1992 and 1996 elections were decisive, than compared to the past decade.

The system does think the problem of convincing 50 million people, many of them heavily armed and mentally unstable, matters. What if a sincere, ingenuous response would only convince 10 million of them? That’s still, like, 200 army divisions.

But their ideology prevents them doing anything about it even if they may feel cheated, as conservatives value stability and are opposed to revolution and rebellion to rectify perceived wrongs.

For America’s system of government and for society to function does not necessitate that its subjects have a high degree of trust, faith, or confidence in it, but only that law and order and property rights are upheld, which is really the only hallmark of a functioning society. Some politicians have enough sense of introspection to know they are not liked, but Americans have no choice anyway. People can choose to not patronize a bad business, but they cannot choose to leave their government, at least not easily. Trust arguably has been eroding for decades, probably since the assassination of JFK, yet the US economy is stronger than ever, and crime and unrest–save for the occasional protest or mass shooting–is at multi-decade lows. Favorably ratings for Congress are also at multi-decade lows, yet that too has not mattered.

Regarding evidence election of fraud, he writes:

We know that two things happened because we have a nearly-perfect seismograph of events: the election prediction market, now large and sophisticated. In any liquid and sophisticated market, expected events do not move the market. Major market moves therefore correspond to new and unexpected information.

But prediction markets ae neither large nor sophisticated, at least relative to the equality markets, which are vastly bigger. As little as $10,000 is enough to generate big moves in many of these markets, owing to limited liquidity. Even sports betting markets are way bigger than pollical betting markets.

This is his evidence of fraud:

We saw two major reversals of the prediction markets, which went from roughly 15-85 to 85-15 and back again: one on Tuesday evening, and one on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday evening, the market learned that Trump was outperforming the major polls. What did it learn on Wednesday morning?


Whatever that event, it was not expected. At least, anyone who expected it could have made a lot of money. No one makes money by knowing what counties report late. And the data available to professional traders is just as good as that available to both the media, and the campaigns. The Trump campaign thought it was winning. Did the Biden campaign think it was losing? Or…

Except that this does not prove anything, or even provide a compelling argument. Someone could have made the same observation during the 2016 election, which had very similar swings. Initially Hillary’s odds were 85% on the night of the election, and then fell to 15%, and then zero. Such volatility is expected when the election is projected to be close, especially when the outcome is determined by a handful of swing states, which introduces considerable variance, because the election is being decided by just 4 or so states. In the absesne of such swing states or if the election were decided by a popular vote instead of the electoral college, there would be much less volatility due to less variance.

I do think I think like a scientist. I know something happened. I just want to know what happened, and why. From my knowledge and experience of American history— if I can still say this on the Internet—there has never been a historical period when our elections were clearly free from fuckery. I therefore find fuckery to be a reasonable Bayesian prior. But, like the citizens in Starship Troopers, I would like to know more.

But nothing you wrote can be considered adhering to science. All you have is a hunch that is supported by the flimsiest of evidence, sorry. Scientists do not make conclusions based on hunches. It is not enough to argue that there was fraud–I do not think anyone disputes that given 155 million votes cast that there will be at least some irregularities (dead voters, double voting, missing ballots, miscounted ballots, etc.) –but the onus is on him is to prove or show that such irregularities cost Trump the election. That is a much higher bar to clear. I have generally been agnostic about the whole thing–I have yet to see compelling evidence of fraud, but cannot completely dismiss the possibly of it either.

No one has ever done any kind of adversarial investigation or systematic forensic audit of American elections at a national or even state level. No one can responsibly say they have any idea what any such investigation would find.

Haven’t they been doing that over the past 2 months? The ink had not even dried on the headlines proclaiming Biden the presumptive winner, when The Trump team summoned the best legal minds in the country, including Giuliani, to contest and scrutinize simultaneously the results of hundreds of precincts in almost a dozen states, all within 24 hours of election night, which continued unabated for a month even despite the overwhelming majority of cases being thrown out, presumably at a great financial cost (it is not like top lawyers work for free). No stone was unturned in the hope of finding something or anything that would possibly provide a pathway, however narrow, for Trump to turn even a single state, let alone win the election. The problem is, some people are so convinced the election was stolen that no counterevidence will suffice to persuade them otherwise, that it does not matter.

I was hoping for more, but this evidence he presents of fraud is lacking. Being a Moldbug article, it covers significant ground,  more so than than just fraud. He concludes by arguing that Trump failed because he and his followers failed to awaken from a dream-like state of the ‘idea of Trump being president,’ to the next step of turning ideas into action.

Despite only serving a single term and failing to realize many, if any , of his objectives (save for big tax cuts) ,the legacy of  the Trump administration will lend itself to much more analysis than the presidency of Obama, who despite serving two terms, his legacy seems conspicuously bereft of analysis. It is like there is this 8-year gap between when Bush left office and Trump came into power. The Trump administration will not be famous (or infamous?) for what it accomplished,  but rather about the state of the nation during which Trump presided: Covid, BLM protests, increasing political and social division, and a growling dissatisfaction with democracy and the state of current affairs, by both sides; and how Trump personalized the presidency in such a way as to mold it in his likeness and image, as opposed to the tradition of the president conforming with the office than making the office conform to the president. Trump brought a heighted sense of awareness, urgency, and acuteness to politics, that had been lacking during the 8-year lull of the Obama administration. Everyday felt like a panic or a crisis, or at least on the precipice of one.

Such far-fetched predictions or premonitions reflect not what one thinks will actually happen but rather the aspirations of the writer. I think there is a certain desire, possibly justifiably so, of seeing these 50 million trump voters rise up and turn over the apple cart that is the status quo, but I do not see that happening.