David Barrett CEO (and founder) of Expensify – and, I’m guessing, no relation by marriage to a certain Judge Amy – sent an email out to all users of his company’s product imploring them to vote for the crook not the fascist. Well he doesn’t exactly mention the F-word, and he totally glosses over why Hiden Joe and his sidekick and heir Commie La Whoreish are terrible choices for supreme executive power, but that’s the gist. He starts very simply:

I know you don’t want to hear this from me.  And I guarantee I don’t want to say it.  But we are facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself.  If you are a US citizen, anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy.

That’s right, I’m saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all — they’re all the same, and they all mean:

“I care more about my favorite issue than democracy.  I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy.  I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight.”

And of course he immediately demonstrates that he either wasn’t paying attention when he was taught civics or that he was taught it poorly. As any fule shud kno: America is a Republic, not a Democracy (read the whole thing, it’s worth it) and this was a planned feature not a bug:

America’s Founders carefully thought through the problems of direct democracy and explicitly rejected this model—and for good reason. They saw that because ancient democracies lacked any social or institutional forces that could check, refine, or moderate the will of the majority, they were prone to great instability, riven by factionalism, and subject to the passions and short-sightedness of the public. Direct democracies were thus vulnerable to tyranny.

An observation of current and past national polities suggests the founders were onto a good thing here. Countries that have fallen into tyranny, from post WW1 Italy and Weimar Germany to Venezuela and Zimbabwe have typically been democracies founded as such to replace some previous more autocratic rule. Other democracies, post WW2 France or Italy, for example, have been remarkable for the instability of their governments and so on. In France De Gaulle explicitly rewrote the constitution from the Fourth Republic to the Fifth to remove what he saw as the disastrous weakness of its system of parliamentary democracy. Apart from the US, other countries with limits to democracy, such as the UK with it’s non-democratic House of Lords and indirectly selected prime-minister, have generally survived better as continuous political entities than those that went the whole hog on democracy.

Note for the hard of thinking: none of this says that democracy and an almost universal franchise for voting is bad at certain levels, just that you really don’t want to implement the “National Popular Vote“, which is something he clearly thinks is a good thing (he has a postscript to the email extolling it). NPV style democracy is the democracy of gang-rape – over 50% of the participants are in favor so therefore it’s OK. You are invited to ponder why minorities might not like such a scheme.

Voter Fraud and Voter Suppression

But beyond that, you may be curious as to why Donald Trump is such a threat to “Democracy”. Well the answer is “voter suppression”. And here is where we step into such a stark difference of opinion that I want to know what parallel world he lives in. According to Mr Barrett:

This is the most heavily litigated election in history, with over 300 lawsuits rushing through the courts before election day. And in every case, Biden is pushing to enable voters while Trump is pushing to suppress them. The trend couldn’t be more clear: Biden wants democracy, Trump does not. A vote for Trump is to endorse voter suppression, it really is very basic. This isn’t about party politics: if Biden were advocating for half of the voter suppression that Trump is actively doing, then I’d be fighting against Biden, too. This is bigger than politics as usual: this is about the very foundation of our nation.

Also apparently voter fraud is “virtually nonexistent”.

Here’s the deal. It is critically important for any democracy that only entitled citizens vote and that their votes are not overwhelmed by fraudulent ones. Despite claims that voter fraud is “virtually nonexistent”, a quick search of news items shows that there’s plenty of it around. How about that New Jersey township? How about Houston? How about Philadephia? or Los Angeles? or the amazing way that close elections almost always seem to end up with a victory by the Democrat candidate after someone discovers a bunch of uncounted votes? I’m tempted to write a script that does a search for “voter fraud conviction 2020 $statename” and run it through all 50 states and see what news articles show up (update see Appendix below). I’m certain that there will be a conviction from fraud this year in at least half of them. I strongly suspect that if you look at the 300 cases he mentions (it would actually be nice if he provided a list) all of them are about one party (the D one) trying to facilitate fraud one way or another while the other party is trying to stop it.

Aside: I suspect Mr Barrett is also in favor of online voting. As someone who does cyber-security for a living, this XKCD strip is 100% accurate.

What are the real threats to “Democracy”?

So, arguendo, if “democracy” is at risk in this election, perhaps we might ask why? Fundamentally it all comes down to trust and integrity. The voters have to trust that the various vote counters, poll watchers etc. are in fact unbiased and not suppressing some votes while fraudulently adding others. The phrase “win beyond the margin of fraud” has achieved the currency it has because too many people have observed the odd shenanigans that occur around really close elections – and it is undoubtedly more prevalent on the right because of the way that key close elections seem to so often be won by the left (see above). It may surprise Mr Barrett, but people of all ethnicities and political leanings in the US have consistently supported voter ID and that suggests that everyone understands that invalid votes devalue the valid ones cast.

Another obvious threat to democracy is intimidation. BLM and Antifa supporters (who are also universally anti-trump and anti-republican) have made all kinds of threats to Trump supporters that they will go after them – again just do a search – and notoriously in Philadephia in 2008 the New Black Panthers engaged in direct voter (and poll-watcher) intimidation. Interestingly the apparently reverse threat (that the “Proud boys” would go after non-Trump voters) appears to be an Iranian disinformation campaign. This sort of disinformation is another threat to democracy and it is one that is fueled and facilitated by rhetoric like that of Mr Barrett.

Which leads to another threat – respecting the result. Again there has been a lot of muttering about how Trump may not leave if he loses but beyond the stated willingness to fight perceived fraud, there seem to be no indications that President Trump or the Republicans will not respect the results. On the other hand various BLM and Antifa groups have made very specific claims that they will riot if Trump remains president. If Trump wins a second term it will be important for people like Mr Barrett to accept the result and reject those that protest the result. I’d like to say I’m confident he will, but I can’t. Writing an overblown email like he did suggests that he’s on the slippery path to believing that the only way to get change is to overthrow the legitimate government. I hope he doesn’t actually do that.

Finally, of course, “democracy” needs a lack of corruption and fidelity to the rule of law for all from the president down. Crackhead McStripperbang’s laptop and the various other related email dumps make it clear that, just like the Clintons with their “pay to play” foundation, the Bidens offer something that looks remarkably like bribery even if it may not technically break any laws. Corruption is not, of course, a uniquely Democratic Party vice but there’s no evidence that Trump does anything of the sort and in fact I’d say my belief is that the majority of sleazy pols appear to have the D label next to them.

Was this a wise business decision

Beyond the politics, there’s a big question of whether this was a smart business decision. He actually answers that in the email:

Expensify depends on a functioning society and economy; not many expense reports get filed during a civil war. As CEO of this business, it’s my job to plot a course through any storm — and all evidence suggests that another 4 (or as Trump has hinted — 8, or more?) years of Trump leadership will damage our democracy to such an extent, I’m obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it. I am confident our democracy (and Expensify) can survive a Biden presidency. I can’t say the same about Trump. It’s truly as simple as that.

I think his answer is basically this:

clocktowertenants.com: wrong on so many levels

First, see above, while I agree that civil war is more likely if Trump wins, the people revolting will not be the Trump supporters. They’ll be BLM, Antifa and their associates. These people do not file expenses (at least I hope they don’t – imagine a receipt for glass bottles $25, gasoline $40, string for wicks $10) but they do disrupt business. How many potential Expensify clients in places like Portland or Minneapolis (or Kenosha or…) have stopped filing expenses because they don’t have a business anymore? If you want people to file expenses then they need to have businesses to work for. If Biden and the dems win does anyone expect prosecutions of Antifa to continue? Does anyone expect them to stop rioting and destroying businesses? The evidence to date suggest exactly the opposite: antifa riot in places where they won’t get arrested/prosecuted and those places are pretty much universally Democrat controlled (or at least places where the Democrats control the DA office). So if you want the business disrupting riots to stop then you want a Trump and republican landslide.

Second, the pre-Wuflu Trump economy was booming and had almost full employment. It also had lots of growth of small businesses which would be precisely the sorts of target client for Expensify. While there’s considerable disagreement over the exact implications of the Biden plans vs the Trump ones for the next four years, pretty much everyone thinks the Biden one will result in slower growth and lower employment. It seems likely that it will also increase regulation and regulation is a real killer of small business. So if Expensify wants it’s addressable market to grow it should want a Trump victory.

Thirdly, there’s the purchasing demographic of Expensify. Small business owners tend to be Republican and to support Trump. I haven’t looked to see whether, say, quickbooks offers an Expensify alternative, but I’m absolutely positive a substantial fraction of Expensify customers are now looking for alternatives (hint click on the link if you are one of them).

Conclusion

This was a generally unhelpful and probably ill-advised intervention. I’m sure it plays well with Mr Barrett’s fellows in San Francisco, but I doubt I’m the only person outside that bubble who is actively repelled by his email and blog post. Both by the content and the smug tone that he uses in it. I anticipate that he will be regretting this in the days to come.

PS this response to the email is also very good
Image

Appendix

OK so generating the list of links turned out to be dead easy. Clicking on them is left as an exercise for the reader, but be prepared to be depressed

voter fraud conviction 2020 Alabama
voter fraud conviction 2020 Alaska
voter fraud conviction 2020 Arizona
voter fraud conviction 2020 Arkansas
voter fraud conviction 2020 California
voter fraud conviction 2020 Colorado
voter fraud conviction 2020 Connecticut
voter fraud conviction 2020 Delaware
voter fraud conviction 2020 Florida
voter fraud conviction 2020 Georgia
voter fraud conviction 2020 Hawaii
voter fraud conviction 2020 Idaho
voter fraud conviction 2020 Illinois
voter fraud conviction 2020 Indiana
voter fraud conviction 2020 Iowa
voter fraud conviction 2020 Kansas
voter fraud conviction 2020 Kentucky
voter fraud conviction 2020 Louisiana
voter fraud conviction 2020 Maine
voter fraud conviction 2020 Maryland
voter fraud conviction 2020 Massachusetts
voter fraud conviction 2020 Michigan
voter fraud conviction 2020 Minnesota
voter fraud conviction 2020 Mississippi
voter fraud conviction 2020 Missouri
voter fraud conviction 2020 Montana
voter fraud conviction 2020 Nebraska
voter fraud conviction 2020 Nevada
voter fraud conviction 2020 New Hampshire
voter fraud conviction 2020 New Jersey
voter fraud conviction 2020 New Mexico
voter fraud conviction 2020 New York
voter fraud conviction 2020 North Carolina
voter fraud conviction 2020 North Dakota
voter fraud conviction 2020 Ohio
voter fraud conviction 2020 Oklahoma
voter fraud conviction 2020 Oregon
voter fraud conviction 2020 Pennsylvania
voter fraud conviction 2020 Rhode Island
voter fraud conviction 2020 South Carolina
voter fraud conviction 2020 South Dakota
voter fraud conviction 2020 Tennessee
voter fraud conviction 2020 Texas
voter fraud conviction 2020 Utah
voter fraud conviction 2020 Vermont
voter fraud conviction 2020 Virginia
voter fraud conviction 2020 Washington
voter fraud conviction 2020 West Virginia
voter fraud conviction 2020 Wisconsin
voter fraud conviction 2020 Wyoming