Posts Tagged ‘The Big Lie’

Easy Enough

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

There have been eight presidential elections in the 30 years since the election of 1992. While Republicans have won three of those elections, they have only won the popular vote once, in 2004 when George W, Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry by 35 Electoral votes with 50.7% popular vote plurality. In the other two Republican victories, George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore by a little more than 500 thousand votes in 2000 and Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hilary Clinton in 2016 by nearly 2.9 million votes. And, as all of us know, and most of us believe, Joe Biden won the election of 2020, defeating Trump by about 8 million votes and winning the electoral college 306 to 232.

Gore and Clinton left the field gracefully, congratulating both Bush and Trump. Gore could have continued the fight, but conceded for the good of the country.

How far we have come from those days.

Donald Trump has never conceded (and never will), and it’s safe to say he did not leave the field gracefully.

A few points to consider as we ponder our journey from sanity to where we are now.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted in November, 2016, following his victory over Mrs. Clinton. This was a lie. To attempt to prove his point, though, Trump set up a voter-fraud commission, budgeted at $500,000 and headed by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state whom the American Civil Liberties Union dubbed “the king of voter suppression.” Months later, Kobach quietly folded his commission’s tent and slinked off in the dead of night. The Commission never submitted a report and it never released its documents to the public; they were turned over to Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap by court order and contained no evidence of voter fraud. However, and it’s a big “however,” polls taken after the 2016 election, as Trump was repeatedly claiming he’d won the popular vote, concluded nearly half of his voters and 25% of Independents actually believed him. Here’s the result of a Morning Consult poll taken in July, 2017, a full eight months after the election.

Following the release of the Morning Consult poll, Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, said Trump has “perfected the technique of the Big Lie”*  — which, as Lichtman wrote in an op-ed in the fall of 2016, is to “repeat a lie loudly, over and over until people come to believe it.”

“These results show that again, like ‘Birtherism,’ which launched Trump’s political career, the Big Lie continues to work, at least among those who want to believe it,” noted Lichtman.

As I have written before, Joseph Goebbels could have learned a thing or two from Donald Trump.

My point in dredging up this history is to suggest that Trump’s intentional Birtherism falsehoods and 2016 Big Lie were merely conditioning for his followers. Believing him then made it so much easier to believe him now.

Easy enough to mount an insurrection on 6 January 2021, the first time the Capitol had been breached since the War of 1812.

Easy enough for six in ten Republican voters to declare they’ll not vote for any candidate who asserts Joe Biden won the 2020 election and is our legitimately elected President.

Easy enough for Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), with a straight face, to claim the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol is a “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” And the RNC put that in writing.

Easy enough to believe it was “ordinary citizens” who ransacked the Capitol leading to nine deaths, who attempted a  coup d’état that included building a gallows from which to hang the Vice President of the United States, who made a “tourist visit” complete with bringing a Confederate flag into the building for the first time in history and smearing feces on the walls of that hallowed place, and that all of this and more, was “legitimate political discourse.”

Easy enough, indeed.

I leave you with one question. It’s hypothetical, but you might want to think about it: On 6 January 2021, what do you think would have happened if the mob had actually caught Mike Pence?

*The Big Lie — Originally a German expression (große Lüge) coined by Adolf Hitler to describe the use of a lie so colossal no one would ever believe someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler came up with the term in prison as he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf to his sycophant Rudolph Hess.