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There has been massive election fraud perpetrated in the 2020 election, but not against Donald Trump...by Donald Trump.
Welcome to the Self-Evident newsletter. While I yet pine for the days when I won’t have to write about Donald Trump and can spend my time discussing the self-evident truths of modern conservatism and classical liberalism, I cannot ignore the world I live in. So, let’s talk about the fraud being perpetrated on the American people.
Movies about big cons are often the most entertaining and hilariously funny. The combination of witty, fast-thinking characters, absurd situations, and a mark perfectly designed for us to delight in him being made a fool of tends to create cinematic gold. From classics like The Entertainer and The Music Man to modern remakes like Ocean’s 11 (and company), audiences have always loved a good con.
But real-life cons are rarely funny. The perpetrators are brutal and amoral instead of scrappy and clever. The best mark isn’t a blow-hard who deserves what’s coming to them but often the last person in the world who should ever become the target of such a nefarious scheme.
This brings me to the 2020 election. On election night, results were coming in slowly, and it had become apparent that America was not going to know who won anytime soon. Donald Trump had done far better than the polls had predicted. Republicans had gained seats in the House of Representatives, and it looked like they were going to keep the Senate. There was no blue wave.
Even with millions of votes left to count, a record number of voters had turned out to vote for four more years of Donald Trump. Whether by true support for Trump’s bombastic style or simply by way of negative partisanship directed at the increasingly socialistic bent of the Democratic Party, Donald Trump neither sunk his own prospects nor the Republican Party’s as spectacularly as many, including myself (at times), had predicted.
But, while Donald Trump and his enablers wanted this to be the end of the story, it wasn’t. Ballots cast on election day painted the map distinctly red and was enough to give states typically in the swing column, like Florida and Ohio, for Donald Trump. But a wave of mail-in ballots began to be counted, and things began to change dramatically. Donald Trump didn’t like where things were going, nor his enablers, and especially not his supporters. As the Biden numbers began to surge, Donald Trump took to the podium and made history. While providing no evidence and offering no proof, he declared, “This is a fraud on the American public.”
Since that day, the Trump campaign has filed over forty lawsuits against the election results. They’ve demanded recounts. They’ve asked judges to invalidate millions of votes. They’ve pressured state officials to refuse to certify election results. They’re pressuring state legislatures to ignore the results and send Trump-friendly electors to the electoral college. They’ve hawked absurd and outlandish conspiracy theories. And, all the while, they have kept up a media blitz that has successfully convinced huge portions of the American people that what we’re witnessing is a massive effort to perpetrate a fraud on the American people and steal the presidential election.
For my part, the Trump campaign and those who enable and support their efforts are not wrong. We truly are witnessing a historical attempt at fraud and a massive gambit for power that flies in the face of the democratic process. But it didn’t happen on election night. It hasn’t occurred at the behest of election officials, nor was it perpetrated by election volunteers or ballot counting software.
This fraud began when a con man let loose his network of grifters in a determined gambit to hold on to the marks they’ve been fooling for the last five years. Donald Trump is the fraud, his campaign is the fraud, and his efforts to besmirch our electoral process and convince millions of Americans that our system of government has failed is one of the greatest frauds in American history. And, increasingly, it's becoming apparent that this was the plan all along.
For months and months leading into the election, President Trump and his surrogates waged war on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. Through a slew of tweets, rally rants, and aided by a constant barrage from Trump’s supporting cast on talk radio and conservative media, many, many conservatives and Republicans had already become acculturated to the idea of massive fraud before election day had even arrived.
Even if Biden’s victory had been the massive landslide suggested by the polling data in the week’s leading up to the election, the story had already been written. And it should come as no surprise to anyone who has considered Donald Trump’s life story with open eyes. If Donald Trump has a gift, it’s to spin defeat as victory, weakness as strength, and whining as fighting.
Another key ingredient to the stew were the efforts by many local and state leaders and politicians allied with the President who took great pains to oppose adjustments in election procedures that would have better prepared the process for the influx of mail-in ballots.
While some states began counting mail-in ballots weeks before election day, allowing them to report mail-in ballots and in-person ballots simultaneously, other states could not begin counting mail-in ballots until election day. This precipitated the election day “red mirage” where Republican-heavy in-person ballots were announced first, only to be overwhelmed in the late evening and preceding days by the Democratic-heavy mail-in ballots.
Far from evidence of fraud, this was a very predictable development. When President Trump told his supporters not to trust mail-in ballots and vote in-person, that’s exactly what they did, assuring mail-in ballots were going to be predominantly Democratic. And, when Republican officials took pains to assure mail-in ballots were going to be counted last with numbers reported in the late evening and the following days, the “red mirage” and “blue shift” was all but guaranteed.
But the Trump campaign's efforts to sow distrust in our election system are based on narrative, not fact. Republicans across the country went to bed on election night looking at a map painted ruby red and woke up to one with disturbingly encroaching points of blue. They turned on their radios and TVs to hear voices echoing the President’s declaration that the election was being stolen.
After being fed a constant diet of propaganda convincing them that the 2020 election could mean the end of the Republic, they were now being told their President was being assaulted by conspiracy and fraud. The President and his surrogates, who to this day have not presented any credible proof, have convinced millions of Americans that this was not an election but a coup.
The con that began on the golden escalator has come full circle. The marks are being played like marionettes on strings of fear and emotion, fueled by confirmation bias, negative partisanship, and siege mentality. Facts don’t care about feelings, but neither do feelings care about facts. Narratives woven tightly to fearful hearts are hard to turn away from. And, the grifters will hang on to every ounce of power and influence they can.
The great tragedy is that everyday conservatives and Republicans are not the nefarious hatemongers the equally absurd “resistance” narrative says they are. They are mostly a salt-of-the-earth people who want to lead modest lives in a free country, left to their own devices in a live-and-let-live world.
They have been led down the path they’re on through a perpetual state of crisis that largely exists in their minds, implanted by the angry and fearful voices they listen to on the radio and TV. The present fraud that strings them along represents the greatest betrayal of all. They believe they are saving the Republic and yet are hearkening to voices willing to call into question the cornerstones of its foundation.
Are there any Republicans left in positions of leadership and in the halls of government who love their constituents enough to tell them the truth? Too many voices who know better remain silent.
How much longer will they wait, hoping for the con to unravel itself? How much longer will they think they can weather this storm without risking the consequences for saying and doing the unpopular things? How much longer will they allow themselves to be co-conspirators in the betrayal of a people who simply want to be free?
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