Trumplican Believers

“Polling has found that about 80 percent of the president’s voters are willing to believe that the election was rigged against him. Donations to the president’s campaign and political action committee, as well as the GOP’s recount efforts and the Senate runoffs in Georgia, have been pouring in amid the effort to overturn the election, even though the race is functionally over.” (Washington Post)

Joe Biden adviser Cedric L. Richmond re Trumplicans: “They recognize Joe Biden’s victory. All of America recognizes Joe Biden’s victory…This is just a small portion of the Republican conference that are appeasing and patronizing the president on his way out because they are scared of his Twitter power and other things.” Except, it is not so. The lies keep getting reinvented and the goal posts changed. 71% of Republicans and 79% of Trump voters want Trump to run again. Even after the Electoral College decides on who is president today, 25% of the American electorate will continue to believe that the presidential election was a fraud and was stolen from Donald Trump.

In an open letter this week, 73 Conservative notables, ranging from the former president of the Heritage Foundation to the president of the Council for National Policy, signed a 10 December 2020 letter (“Conservatives Call on State Legislators to Appoint New Electors in Accordance with the Constitution”) claiming that, “The evidence overwhelmingly shows officials in key battleground states—as the result of a coordinated pressure campaign by Democrats and allied groups—violated the Constitution, state and federal law in changing mail-in voting rules that resulted in unlawful and invalid certifications of Biden victories.”

Why do so many Trumplicans believe that the election was stolen? It cannot be the unavailability of correct information. There is no pedagogical reason that I can find. The explanation is related to why Chaim Eshed’s book, The Universe Beyond the Horizon, on a treaty between Trump and intergalactic aliens, is believed to be about reality. After all, Eshed is a highly respected scientist – for 30 years he headed the Israeli space agency. You have one key ingredient, an authority figure who holds high office. Donald Trump as president saying something is very different than Donald Trump as a private citizen. And even then, many people believed him when he was a promoter of Birtherism, namely that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, or called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five who were eventually fully exonerated by the courts.

Second, the believer has to be immune to irony and satire. This is true were we reading Mark Twain or Lolita. What is written by a highly skilled writer is taken as a representation of truth rather than a satire of that “truth”. In one part it is – information exists that UFOs are real. However, when Eshed responds to the release of information on the UFOs from the Pentagon, he writes, “The UFOs have asked [us] not to publish that they are here, humanity is not ready yet. Trump was on the verge of revealing [them], but the aliens in the Galactic Federation are saying: “Wait, let people calm down first.” They don’t want to start mass hysteria. They want to first make us sane and understanding,” We receive a double message, one that there is considerable evidence that UFOs are real, and that he is saying this possibly with a twinkle in his eyes and his fingers crossed behind his back. Trumplican believers hear the first message and take the second, not as irony, but as a reinforcement for the first.

It is not a prerogative of Republicans. The belief in the corruption of voting machines in the 2020 presidential election was spread widely; sixteen years earlier when John Kerry lost the 2004 election to George W. Bush, there were similar rumours. Thus, the third item: a plausible mechanism, one which has allegedly previously been used and the belief in electronic corruption, especially enhanced in a time when media companies are suspected of manipulating what we are permitted to read and think.

There is a fourth important element – the certainty (and repetition) stated with authority with which the lie is spread. And it comes from an authoritative source. No qualms. No qualifications. No loosening the reins on one’s acolytes. Believe! Believe! Believe!. There is no alternative. “There’s an agreement between the US government and the aliens. They signed a contract with us to do experiments here. They, too, are researching and trying to understand the whole fabric of the universe, and they want us as helpers. There’s an underground base in the depths of Mars, where their representatives are, and also our American astronauts.”

Of course, fifth, there is self-serving, whether of Republican congressmen who do not want to alienate Trump followers, or Trump followers who do not want to be exorcised from the cult, and Trump himself who is reaping in a fortune by promulgating the lie. As Malcolm Kenyatta, 30, a state legislator from Philadelphia who will cast one of Pennsylvania’s 20 votes for Biden, stated, “The president has a $200-something-million incentive to lie.”

Sixth, we, the intellectual and professional elite, are at fault for we so disdain such believers and we alienate them when we try to educate them. I think of how condescending and dismissive I was when our cleaning lady thought that COVID-19 was a hoax and that the vaccine would damage your immune system. When we mix mockery with correcting misinformation, we make it more difficult to be heard. Besides our very mastery of the specialized language of our various fields shuts the door on the possibility that they can find out for themselves, especially when they are offered alternative answers that are easily and readily understood. Why was an ignoramus turned into a pinata president that brought him sympathy alongside the ridicule?

Seven, then there is serendipity. Why did the COVID-19 crisis come along just when Trump was seeking reelection? Why were his questions about masks laughed out of court while his ignorant but seemingly commonsense solutions were as well? We all know that correlation is not causation, except we all do not know such a thing at all. Possibly a majority confuse correlation with causation, especially when figures in authority make the link.

Eight, who benefits? Professionals, experts, intellectuals, mandarins, all live in a rarefied world where expertise, where science, where knowledge, where skilled analysis, are all king. But the majority do not live in that world. The majority are not so privileged in the information age. They are, thus, more susceptible to the grifter when the con artist identifies with the ordinary believer rather than the elite specialists.

Nine, and what if those self-identified defenders of truth, self-identified defenders of democracy, are the same people who uncovered the flaws in the people appointed to be the highest arbiters of justice in the land? What if those same people who were supposedly the defenders of the rule of law were also the critics of those charged with the frontline responsibility of defending the law, of enforcing the law? And then the greatest hypocrisy: those same people rely on the courts – over 50 court cases, including two before the Supreme Court, the very court they accused of being in Trump’s pocket – to defeat the accusations of fraud. When such an apparent contradiction prevails, trust is not easily recaptured.

Ten, there are people who decry those who call the election a fraud by asking, where are the anomalies? After all, if there was a conspiracy to defeat the president by irregular methods, why was it not used against the Republicans who held their control of the Senate (at least, thus far) or the Republicans who gained seats in the House of Representatives? Why did an irregular pattern of voting not stand out? The rebuttal: if you are arguing on the basis of the absence of anomalies, we have the better answer. The very consistency is the proof of corruption; the absence of irregularities explains the sophistication, breadth, depth and extent of the fraud.

There is no understanding of the principle of falsifiability, that is, that something can only be claimed to be true if there is a way of disproving it.  100% conviction is not truth. A conclusion following a skeptical examination can be. With the epistemological odds loaded against the defenders of the principle of falsification, the following assertions of fact, that can be (and are) easily falsified are simply ignored or drowned in a river of lies.

  1. Only 1.8 million mailed ballots were sent out but 24 million were returned. In fact, over 3 million ballots were sent out. The 1.8 million ballots sent out was the figure from the primary election not the November 2020 election.
  2. In Georgia, thousands of voters were claimed not to be eligible, but a cursory examination of those names by a State representative, Bee Nguyen, revealed that in a sample page, most could, in fact, be certified as Georgians of long standing, that those on the list with Post Office boxes simply lived in multiple unit apartments that received their mail through post office numbers, that there were repeats on the registration lists that were not repeats on the voting lists, etc. In other words, the experts who put forward the claimed list of fraudulent voters were frauds as verifiers because they had not tested, and, then falsified virtually all their claims.
  3.  In the Michigan claim that that there were more voters than registrants in certain districts, a simple check revealed that the numbers obtained of the number of registrants came from a Wisconsin rather than a Michigan district.
  4. What about the claim of the dump after 3:00 a.m. in Wisconsin? Mailed ballots were not to be counted in that state until after the in-person votes had been counted and we know that far more Democrats used mailed ballots than Republicans.
  5. There were some real errors, but everyone of them that had been pointed out was first quickly found and corrected by the counters.
  6. What about the videos of burning ballots? They were simply samples that were burnt.
  7. What about suspicions in cases of long delays in counting votes? In one case, a pipe burst. In another case, it proved to be a misunderstanding that was quickly corrected.
  8. What about the submitted lists of dead voters. The ones on the list were indeed dead, but the fault was in the registered list of eligible voters; none of them actually voted.
  9. What about the videos of election workers filling out ballots? They were accurate, but the ballots were of ones mangled by voting machines or otherwise unintelligible for machine counting; the procedure was certified by representatives of both parties.
  10. There were alleged anomalies – in previous elections, 4% of ballots were ruled as inadmissible while only a tiny percentage in this election. However, when the error rates comparing the same kind of ballot were made, the pattern of errors was roughly consistent. Don’t compare apples and oranges.

One could go on and offer more than these 10 examples of claims easily falsified. However, once one has already dismissed the relevance of the principle of falsification and it is instead countermanded by repetitions of lies and affidavits based only on hearsay, even though the claims were dismissed through a fact check, for Trumplicans, falsification claims lost out to repeated lies.

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