Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial Board, July 9, 2022
The devoted conspiracy aficionado tirelessly acts as a sentry standing guard against the encroachment of reality into his carefully groomed fantasyland. This helps explain why debunking such theories among the faithful is as useless as trying to clasp water in a closed fist — the true believer has an undying and circular certainty that those who contest his claims are simply part of the conspiracy.
The problem, however, is that most conspiracy theories eventually implode beneath the weight of inherent contradictions and incomprehensible reasoning. Witness the fiasco involving Joey Gilbert and his failed run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Nevada.
Mr. Gilbert was outspoken on the campaign trail in endorsing Donald Trump’s fanciful stolen election claims in an effort to attract the former president’s most ardent followers. But his effort fell short. Mr. Gilbert finished second with 27.1 percent of the vote behind Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s 38.3 percent. Nearly 26,000 voters separated the two statewide.
But — and who didn’t see this coming? — Mr. Gilbert and his cast of flunkies now claim that the GOP primary was fixed and “Joey won astronomically.”
Apparently, there’s a whole lot of election rigging going on in Nevada. Not only did state Democrats conjure up more than 33,000 fake votes to steal the Silver State’s six electoral votes from Mr. Trump, this theory goes, now Republican legerdemain prevents Mr. Gilbert from taking his rightful place at the top of the ticket.
But if the GOP is as proficient as Democrats in perpetrating election fraud in Nevada, how did Mr. Trump lose in the first place? Why did Mr. Gilbert even enter the race? And how have state Republicans consistently failed recently in races for constitutional offices? For that matter, if Democrats are so adept at rigging voting machines or flooding the system with illegal ballots, why didn’t they use those diabolical skills last November to ensure themselves supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature?
It’s also worth noting that Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Lombardo over Mr. Gilbert in the GOP primary. But perhaps he’s joined the vast conspiracy.
Mr. Gilbert has now demanded fruitless recounts throughout the state and has found some gullible benefactor to fund his request. (You didn’t think he’d use his own money, did you?) This will set the stage for a lawsuit prior to which Mr. Gilbert will insist he has mountains of evidence to support his claims. He will then offer nothing in court that remotely backs up the veracity or scope of his allegations. He’ll then claim that the judges are in on it, too.
Mr. Gilbert’s tiresome election fraud shtick is that of a charlatan, a con man. What H.L. Mencken called a mountebank — and a third-rate one at that.
Yes, all elections — even school council races — have inevitable irregularities and even some fraud. Nothing is perfect. And, yes, Democrats in Nevada and elsewhere seem wholly unconcerned about election integrity in their quest to win at the ballot box.
The proper response, however, isn’t to make ludicrous and unfounded assertions about shadowy forces manipulating election results, but to work at the Legislature to repeal reforms that allow dubious practices such as ballot harvesting and universal mail-in voting and fuel questions about ballot integrity. The notion propagated by Democrats that ending “emergency” voting measures passed during the pandemic — in other words, returning state election law to its 2019 form — is a nefarious, racist plot to suppress the vote is nearly as idiotic as Mr. Gilbert’s foolishness.
Republicans have an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of widespread voter unrest stemming from the ineptitude that characterizes the White House. But if they continue to rant about “stolen” elections instead of offering independent voters a path forward that includes a clear alternative to the progressive agenda of authoritarian collectivism, they risk squandering the moment.
Joey Gilbert’s conspiracy nonsense is precisely the kind of destructive sideshow that state Republicans — voters and candidates — should flee from as fast as they can.