The Immaculate Election

Back in the days when sports were a pleasurable diversion from the grind of daily life, professional football presented some of the most exciting and unlikely turns of events that Americans could experience.  On December 23, 1972, as the clock wound down on the divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, a deflected pass from Terry Bradshaw to Frenchy Fuqua wound up in the hands of Franco Harris, who galloped to the winning touchdown.  Pandemonium swept through Three Rivers Stadium, as Steelers fans celebrated not only their first ever playoff victory, but the incredible way it happened, having come about on a fourth-and-ten Hail Mary with only 22 seconds remaining on the game clock.

But controversy surrounding Harris's catch arose immediately, and this has made it one of the most famous plays in NFL history, forever known in athletic lore as the "Immaculate Reception."   It was unclear whether Fuqua illegally touched the ball before Harris grabbed it, and there is no clear camera angle showing whether Harris caught the deflection cleanly or if the ball touched the field before he gripped it.  Replay technology was not employed in those days to verify the call, and Raider Jack Tatum, who collided with Fuqua right at the time of the deflection of Bradshaw's pass, long asserted that the officials ultimately let the touchdown stand not because they were certain that Harris had caught the ball in accordance with the rules, but because they were afraid the fans might riot if the call were reversed.  Steelers faithful revel in the glory of their good fortune, while Raiders fans reject it as a fraud, with former silver and black safety George Atkinson scorning it as the "immaculate deception."  His contention was that there were at least three infractions on the play, any one of which would have invalidated the touchdown, prevented the Steelers' victory, and possibly crushed the Steelers' organizational momentum that would lead to their dynasty of the mid- to late 1970s.   

If we look at the 2020 presidential election, we can see multiple analogues to what happened so many years ago on that cold gridiron in western Pennsylvania.

The famous game was a defensive slugfest, with the Steelers holding a 6-0 lead with less than five minutes to play.  The frustrated Raiders managed to pull together an 80-yard drive that resulted in a bootleg touchdown by quarterback Ken Stabler, leaving the Steelers down 7-6 with a little over a minute of time left.  In that last gasp of competition, the controversial catch won the game for the black and gold.  The 2020 election was in large measure a defensive contest, with President Trump fighting off the withering attack of the mainstream media and tech giants such that going into Election Day, the polls had him trailing Joe Biden by as much as seventeen points.  To a lesser extent, Biden had to play defense against longstanding accusations of corruption and grift related to alleged misconduct in Ukraine and China.  When the returns started to pour in on November 3, Trump had done like Stabler and scored what looked like the winning touchdown in the form of big leads in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Then, suddenly, with time winding down on the Biden campaign, a miraculous cache of votes appeared in swing states in the wee hours of the morn of November 4.  When Americans got up that day, their cup of Joe was now filled with the "Build Back Better" brew.  When the news media declared Mr. Biden the winner on November 7, Trump voters, like George Atkinson, yelled, "Fraud!"  Biden voters danced joyfully in excitement and ignored allegations of election irregularities, which had cropped up overnight in the Rust Belt, Sun Belt, and Deep South.  Biden acolytes raced into the streets in revelry (forget about COVID social distancing).  Joe Biden appeared to have won the "immaculate election."

Franco Harris's catch could never be empirically confirmed because a full investigation into the play could not be completed.  Frenchy Fuqua steadfastly refused to confirm or deny whether he had touched the ball, and the three available video angles of the play do not conclusively prove or disprove any elements of the legality of the catch.  We are fast approaching that kind of situation with the 2020 election, when the facts will be ultimately obscured to the point where the real outcome of the contest will exist only under a fog of conjecture.  Like the coy Fuqua, the media won't acknowledge that there are any concerns about election irregularities — they have turned a blind eye to what looks like illegal activity, protesting instead that there is no evidence of voter fraud.  The various angles of view into the election have shown that there is at least some suspicion as to the validity of the final score on behalf of Joe Biden: one angle shows missing votes discovered in favor of Donald Trump a week after the election in Georgia; another angle shows that votes in Pennsylvania were not counted with proper oversight; and a third shows that voting irregularities caused Clark County, Nevada to refuse to certify a commissioner's race.  Furthermore, without a thorough investigation which uncovers the full truth, we will be left to believe that an old-time, platitudinous political relic who has no intersectional bona fides scored 9 million more votes than the first black presidential candidate and 12 million more than the first female nominee.  Unless there is a deep dive into all the strange business that took place in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta (with Phoenix and Las Vegas thrown in for good measure), Joe Biden will be immaculated rather than inaugurated in January 2021.

Unlike the classic Steelers-Raiders contest, the outcome of the 2020 election will cause much more harm than the disappointment of one group of football fans, and it will not lead to a glorious, winning American dynasty.  Joe Biden's immaculate election — achieved in the dead of night under statistically impossible circumstances — will likely cause shockwaves across the American body politic that will have consequences of as yet unknown proportions.  In the first place, a Biden administration would assume office under a pretense of suspicion by nearly half of the electorate, and if that half has decided it has reached its limit in tolerating electoral shenanigans, there will not be a pleasant submission to the re-institution of Big Government policies brought back from the Obama days.  Furthermore, if the "immaculate election" stands — having succeeded to a degree far greater than the questionable election victory of JFK in 1960, which turned in his favor on late night ballots whipped up in Chicago — then the nefarious actors who pulled off such a heist will be encouraged to do it again and with even greater efficiency.   The power of electoral manipulation will create a situation in which no Republican will stand a chance at winning the presidency again, and Congress will be reshaped to ensure a permanent Democrat majority.

Raider Nation still smarts to this day about what arguably was the biggest steal in NFL history, but the pain that will be foisted upon the American people as the result of a tainted and potentially stolen presidential election will be infinitely more profound.

John Steinreich has an M.A. in church history from Colorado Theological Seminary.  He has authored two Christian-themed books available on Kindle: The Words of God? and A Great Cloud of Witnesses.  His works are also on Lulu Press.  He is leading a project to bring biblical values to the arena of civics called "God and Government," which can be found on Parler and Facebook.

Image: SteelCityHobbies via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.