Trump and his faux-intellectual disciples are pushing fake 'voter fraud' claims. Republicans are cashing in.
- Trump lost the election, by a lot. Because he's too weak to admit he's a loser, he's damaging democracy.
- Internet "skeptics" are amplifying his fake voter fraud claims by engaging in baseless speculation couched in faux intellectual inquiry.
- The skeptics created smoke in search of a fire, but these gullible simpletons are just helping Republicans raise money, while GOP voters' faith in the democratic process plummets.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Trump seems intent on not admitting that he lost the election. He seems doubly intent on ignoring the fact that he will lose the election by slightly more than the electoral college margin by which he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 — while also losing the popular vote by twice that election's margin.
Instead of accepting the plain reality staring him in the face, Trump insists there has been widespread voter fraud, while providing zero compelling evidence.
He's been peppering his base with voter fraud allegations for years (remember his shameless lie about caravans of illegal 2016 voters in New Hampshire?). And the president spent months pre-emptively subverting public confidence in the election to keep his base exorcised if he were to lose (which he has, decisively).
Meanwhile, the facts are not in Trump's favor. The right-wing Heritage Foundation tried to prove an epidemic of voter fraud in the US and came up with 1,298 cases of alleged election misconduct. But that was spread out over 36 years and 1,826,807,464 ballots. Heritage effectively proved voter fraud is a negligible issue.
And in a joint statement by the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee and Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council, the non-partisan government election watchdogs stated plainly: "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."
"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," the agencies declared.
Republicans refuse to push back
But all that "evidence" is just Deep State hooey to the "very stable genius" in the White House. Trump still won't accept the message that he's been fired — with good cause — by the American people.
The president's disdain for the will of the people goes hand in glove with his idealization of "tough" authoritarian tactics and "strong" authoritarian leaders. Trump's never going to be a dictator, but when it comes down to it, he's just not that into democracy.
Also not being much of a reader or law-abider, it's conceivable that Trump may legitimately not know he can't illegally occupy the White House after January. And most of his fellow Republicans don't seem inclined to tell him, so they're sitting back while he smashes the retweet button on every berserk internet fabrication that comes across his screen.
(In a thread that spans hundreds of tweets —with more coming every few hours! — the journalist Issac Saul has attempted to assemble a comprehensive debunking depot for suspicious-sounding but ultimately baseless voter fraud claims spreading across the internet.)
To be sure, there are a few Republicans willing to "bravely" demonstrate that they live in a reality-based world.
George W. Bush's political mastermind Karl Rove wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that there's "no evidence" of voter fraud.
The Trump-appointed Election Assistance Commission Chairman Benjamin Hovland told Insider that the president's claims of voter fraud are "shameful," they "hurt the fabric of our nation," and the "undermining of confidence in our elections and our democracy" is "exactly what our foreign adversaries want to see."
Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt — who sits on the board that oversees elections — probably put it best to CNN: "I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all … One thing I can't comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies."
There'd be less to worry about if most of Trump's fellow Republicans similarly cared enough about the country's future as a liberal democracy to insist that he accept the will of the people, graciously concede, and help provide a stable transition of power to the next democratically-elected administration.
If the GOP stepped up and denounced the president's wild theories, then Trump could continue to be a clown who debases the country to enrich himself — but he'd just be an increasingly irrelevant one.
Unfortunately for our democracy, there's money to be raised, and two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.
So the GOP tacitly supports Trump's very lame but very dangerous assault on democracy. They're ok with poisoning their party's voters' faith in a fair US presidential election. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, almost 70% of Republican voters said the election was not "free and fair," a figure which doubled in the week after the election.
Backing up Republicans' cynical refrains that there should be "investigations" into supposed voter fraud — essentially demanding that a negative be proven — is an internet and talk radio echo chamber of people "just asking questions."
Much as Trump usually takes care to say he's just asking questions when power-spraying absolute nonsense conspiracy theories into the brains of his followers and the willful idiots of the internet that are creating a cacophony of doubt.
Where Pizzagaters and QAnoners become Math PhDs
In the fever swamps of the internet where Pizzagate, QAnon, and the hoax conspiracy theories about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich were born — the democracy skeptics are "just asking questions."
They know all the evidence points to a typically fair and free US election, one that for all the fears it would be a disaster of disenfranchisement, actually worked out pretty well!
Even in the midst of a pandemic, there was record voter turnout. Media outlets were cautious and patient with their calls. And despite the unnecessary confusion created by the GOP's efforts to prevent early votes from being counted as they arrived, even the one-time vote-counting basket case state of Florida did a pretty admirable job of staving off Election Day chaos.
Still the skeptics insist that there's sufficient smoke to suspect fire.
They're not saying Trump lost the election because of massive, multi-state voter fraud requiring the complicity of both Democratic and Republican officials…they're "just asking questions."
But these questions lead nowhere but back to their typically anonymous sources.
Case in point is a viral thread by an anonymous pro-Trump Twitter account that claimed to show information "provided via an anonymous data scientist and another anonymous individual" who created a script analyzing "ballot counting time data."
The last tweet in the thread reads: "Please disseminate as necessary. Good luck. Stay safe. Be kind to your neighbors. #Epsteindidntkillhimself."
And just like that, a supposedly "intellectual" unmasking of the Deep State conspiracy to rig millions of ballots across many states for Joe Biden — but not for the down ballot elections that were overwhelmingly favorable to Republicans — had been born.
It was featured on the popular right-of-center site ZeroHedge and shared by Intellectual Dark Web "liberals" with huge online audiences. That's greater dissemination than most conspiracy theories are blessed with, and backed up with impressive-sounding but incorrect math lexicon. And there's no putting the genies back in the bottle.
Similarly, for a few days last week "Benford's Law" was the talk of pro-Trump conspiracy theory sites like Gateway Pundit, and suddenly every Alex Jones fan miraculously had a math PhD. When actual math-doers noted that the theory is essentially useless for analyzing election results, it didn't matter to the "just asking questions" crypto-Trumpists.
The skeptics had created smoke in search of a fire.
Voter fraud truthers believe they possess special sunglasses allowing them to see through the lies of the "globalist mainstream media" and Deep State establishment.
In actuality, these gullible simpletons are helping to enrich Republican political coffers.
But under the guise of caring about a fair vote count — which we're already well on the way to getting — the voter fraud truthers are willfully damaging democracy.
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