Nearly two months ago I posted a belated look at the aftermath of the November 2020 election. I described it as “surprisingly chill” because despite Biden having won, most people were ready to move on and deal with the new political landscape which wasn’t a disaster for the GOP, and for which the Republican party was well poised to limit the damage from a nascent Biden administration and to improve even further on the state level.
Nearly two months later I have to admit that I was wrong—oh so very wrong.
So, what happened?
The unshakable faith by the true believers that Donalrd Trump couldn’t ever lose combined with a 4chan hoax that got way out of hand—even at the expense of the moderate swing voters who could have secured Trump’s reelection. That’s what happened. A friend of your humble author, who was on the conservative/libertarian side of politics and and avid fan of Rush Limbaugh, became so disgusted with all the antics and insanity that he told me:
“For the first time since 1980, I’ve tuned out. I’m not part of that world. It’s not part of my world. Either way it goes there will be legal challenges, then attempts to subvert the vote by pressuring the electoral College to overturn the votes, then 4 years of an illegitimate President. Been there, done that, have the broken country to show for it.”
Yes, fraud happens. Your humble author has seen this happen and knows it happens. There is what is known as “the margin of fraud” and people involved in campaigns and actual retail politics know that a lot of shadowy and even illegal stuff happens. But the thing about our current laws in many, if not most, places is that it is almost impossible to prove fraud. Oh, the states and localities ought to have the burden of showing that the vote is secure and that fraud couldn’t happen, but clearly we don’t have a system that everyone has faith in.
Proving fraud is difficult, if not impossible in many cases. But absence of proof that fraud didn’t happen does not mean that an accusation of fraud actually happened. On election night itself, people immediately declared that there must be fraud. So many of the accusations were facially false and easily dismissable by people familiar with the election laws in the state or county in question. But the true believers claimed anything and everything, and by so doing overwhelmed more sensible people in a “gish gallop” to the point where no one could provide the evidence against all of the claims. Even Donald Trump privately admitted that he had lost, all while his proxies attacked anyone who didn’t show blind obedience.
But it wasn’t just the accusations pushed on Twitter or Facebook: Rudy Giuliani, Texas A.G, Ken Paxton, Sidney “Kraken” Powell, and the apparently crazy Lin Wood all filed lawsuits and publicly made increasingly crazy claims and expressed increasingly heated rhetoric. That their actual lawsuits claimed far less while demanding relief far beyond the purported damage claimed in their lawsuits. It’s almost as if they knew that there would be actual consequences for lying in court. Even the most serious claims in lawsuits, such as claims of ineligible voters in Nevada, were so questionable that either the people behind it knew it was a joke and intentionally borked their own lawsuit, or they had actual evidence and were so incompetent that they should run out of politics.
To put it bluntly, fraud large enough to change tens of thousands of votes over multiple states not only couldn’t be shown, but in many cases were outright debunked. But because some people wouldn’t accept this—were so emotionally invested in Donald Trump and/or the entire “QAnon” conspiracy—they refused to accept political reality, and/or decided to “fight” the “soy boy cucks” and/or the alleged pedophilic vampire globalist conspiracy.
This came to a head in the first week of the year 2021. The first example is the result of the Georgia run-off elections for the U.S. Senate which determined the control of the U.S. Senate and thus if Joe Biden and the Democrats would be given free reign, or if their plans would be blunted by Sen. Mitch McConnell who would have stopped any outrageous legislation and at least tempered the cabinet and judicial picks of Biden.
The increasingly unhinged declarations that not only voting by mail but also in-person voting couldn’t be trusted seems to have caused enough Republicans to not bother voting in Georgia to and the Senate seats, and control of the Federal government, over to the complete Democratic control.
The second example if the display of ochlocracy on Capitol Hill, where true believers took all that heated rhetoric and conspiracy theories to heart by breaking into the Capitol building during the counting of the Electoral Votes, resulting not only in members of Congress fleeing for their lives as cosplaying lunatics emoted for the cameras and social media, but in people dying and actual bombs being found at the RNC and DNC (amongst other madness).
The Democrats have just been handed a “Reichstag” moment at the exact point, with the question of just how far they are willing to go with it.
And all that for what, exactly? It’s not just that some people are true believers in Trump and/or QAnon, but they feel like put upon outsiders who finally found someone who they believed would fight for them. For many, if not most, of these people, they were put upon outsiders and their complains were quite legitimate. But for far too many, they let their emotions get the better of them.
Rather than take a step back and even consider that their antics and Trump’s alienated people that didn’t need to be alienated, they blamed the people they alienated for not “clapping for the fairies”; why yes, if only more people had supported Trump then Trump would have won, and perhaps the fault for people not supporting Trump lies not with them—as if they had a duty to not let him down—but with the people who drove them away. Oh, certainly some people were attracted to his antagonistic attitudes towards the politicians and politics-as-usual they legitimately despised; but Trump could have been antagonistic—and even politically “fight”—while still acting with a modicum of decorum and self-restraint on his actions and rhetoric if not also his ego.
Some people were so convinced that the GOP did nothing but preemptively surrender, that they didn’t care if they won or lost just as long as they scratched that proverbial itch, even it it meant getting gangrene in the process.
They also assumed that there was a binary choice between being “in-your-face” and a “gentlemanly surrender” to the point where unless they felt like a politician was personally fighting for them, then the politician was their enemy.
And a lot of this was about “feelz” and emotional catharsis. They saw Trump in ’16 eek out a win as he let his “freak flag” fly and say whatever he wanted and assumed that that all it took to win was to do the same thing—with the presumption that most of America felt similarly. But there were those who knew better but encourage it anyway because they might get some votes for themselves, or make a buck selling their snake oil to those who were willing marks.
And the grift will just go on.