Investigations, or proposed investigations, of various topics have been much in the news lately. Three in particular should be conducted: Into 1/6, into alleged election fraud, and into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Otherwise, opponents of one or more of these investigations can fairly be charged with having something to hide.
Congressional Republicans have already blocked the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of 1/6. In an earlier column I wrote that this was a mistake. A truly bipartisan commission, with Republicans having equal representation with Democrats, would reduce the Democrats’ opportunities to turn the ensuing investigation into a partisan witch hunt. Moreover, if it were revealed that Republican activists and officials actually helped plan the events of 1/6, Republicans would win credit for helping expose the wrongdoers and thereby be able to thwart any efforts to place blame on the Republican Party as a whole.
As it happens, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced plans to form a special House investigating committee anyway. It will be bipartisan to the extent that Republican representatives will have the opportunity to serve on it. But the Democrats will be in the majority of the committee, and a Democrat will also be its chair, possessing subpoena power and staff resources. In other words, the Republicans will have far less power to influence the investigation than they would have had if they had accepted a truly bipartisan commission with each party having equal membership, power, and resources.
Nonetheless, the Republicans should cooperate. They must take whatever measures their reduced power allows to prevent a prospective witch hunt. Besides, Republican participation is the best way to show the GOP has nothing to hide.
Republican efforts to show the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, and investigations or “audits” to find supporting evidence for their claim, continue, much to the consternation of Democrats, the press, and Republican officials charged as collaborators. Opponents of these initiatives say there is little evidence of voter fraud and none whatever of enough fraud to overturn the election results and restore Donald Trump to the White House. Numerous officials, including Trump-appointed Republican bureaucrats in the Department of Homeland Security and Trump-appointed Republican judges, have certified the 2020 presidential election as one of the most secure elections in history. Therefore, no further investigations are needed.
But why not let these investigations proceed anyway? If, as their opponents maintain, there was no significant voter fraud, then these investigations shouldn’t find any and no damage will be done. But, claim their opponents, time, effort, and money will be wasted. Maybe so, but should the ongoing investigations yield nothing amiss their results will support and reinforce the belief that the 2020 election was secure and its results valid. Besides, much effort was made to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election. The best course of action for those who consider the 2020 election legitimate is to simply stand back, do nothing, and allow the current investigations to collapse and burn out. The investigators, by coming up empty, will discredit themselves, and ultimately interest in undermining the 2020 election will die out. This assumes, of course, that there’s nothing to find because there was nothing to hide.
One of the more interesting developments in world affairs is the growing demand for an investigation to determine whether the Covid-19 pandemic was the result of a lab leak in Wuhan, China.
The Chinese government has always maintained that the virus originated in a nearby meat market, and in fact there’s no real evidence of a lab leak. But if that’s the case, then is it only a bizarre coincidence that the market was located near the laboratory where research on the virus was being conducted? What are we to make of a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention which said the virus could not be found in animal samples from the market in question? Why were Chinese scientists trying to warn of a possible pandemic initially silenced and kept in seclusion, where one died? Why did the Chinese Foreign Ministry initially claim the virus was released by the United States Army?
Critics of the Chinese government and of the World Health Organization, which has exonerated the government, have claimed that the government provided no real help and information to investigators. Why not? Was it because governmental secrecy is simply standard operating procedure for totalitarian (and frequently non-totalitarian) political systems—or is there some other reason at work as well?
In the absence of evidence of actual wrongdoing, one should be cautious in attributing wrongdoing to the Chinese government at this time. But President Biden has wisely assigned our intelligence agencies the task of getting to the bottom of this. One hopes the Chinese government will cooperate lest it make reasonable observers think it has something to hide.
In each of these three cases, and in many others as well, people can endlessly debate whether investigations should be conducted and what, if anything, they’ll find. The best approach to any question of great importance is a thorough, fair minded investigation—neither a whitewash nor a witch hunt—to get to the truth, or at least as much of the truth as is humanly possible. Whatever validity there may be to reasons for opposing the conduct of such an investigation, it is always reasonable to suppose, until proven otherwise, that those who oppose it may have something to hide.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.