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The Big Lie continues

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Rick Morain
Rick Morain
For the past 3½ years, Donald Trump has claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. At last count, at least 70% of the nation’s Republicans say the same thing.

The only reason I can see that so many Republicans say that is because Donald Trump says it.

If Trump tomorrow were suddenly to announce that he was wrong, that Joe Biden indeed won the election fair and square, how many Republicans would immediately change their tune as well? My guess: nearly all of them.

That’s because they have no facts to trot out in support of Trump’s claim that 2020 was “rigged,” “stolen” or “fraudulent.”

Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr found no evidence of widespread irregularities. Neither did the judges in some 60 court cases brought by Trump supporters in several key states. Neither did election officials in those states. Neither did his own Homeland Security Department. Neither did two private research firms his campaign hired shortly after the election to ferret out voter fraud.

In December 2021, the Associated Press reviewed every potential case of voter fraud brought in the six battleground states where Trump disputed the results. The review found fewer than 475 such instances — way, way, way short of anything that would have made a difference in the 2020 presidential election.

Biden received some 81 million popular votes to Trump’s 74 million. Biden won in the Electoral College, 306 to 232.

A lineup of Trump lieutenants in the “Stop the Steal” movement has been found guilty of trying to overturn the election results, and other similar cases are working their way through the courts.

The 2020 election wasn’t Trump’s first Big Lie rodeo.

After the 2012 presidential election, won by Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, Trump tweeted, “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” the election was a “total sham,” and the United States is “not a democracy.”

During his 2016 campaign, Trump regularly implied that the Democratic Party was rigging the election at polling booths against him, thereby sowing doubt about the certification process. In the final 2016 debate between himself and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he refused to say he would accept the election results if he lost. The next day he said he would “totally” accept the results — if he won.

In 2020, during the campaign, Trump said the “only way” he could lose was if Democrats rigged the results, and several times he refused to promise a peaceful transition after the election. Steve Bannon, the firebrand off-and-on Trump supporter, speaking at a pre-election meeting that was recorded, outlined the plan to have Trump declare victory.

Most Republicans tend to vote in person on Election Day, Bannon said, while many Democrats vote early with absentee ballots. Because of that, the first votes to be counted would be those cast at the polling places on Election Day, and they would tend to favor the Republican candidates. Therefore Trump would make a public appearance a couple hours after most of the polls had closed and declare himself the winner. He would then claim that the absentee votes, which would be counted after the Election Day ballots, were fraudulent plants and should not be allowed.

And that’s what happened. On Election Night Trump insisted that the “legitimate” ballots proved him the winner, and that the absentee votes that were counted later were simply ballot-stuffing. The Big Lie continues to this day.

The Greene County Republican Party has an attractive headquarters in a storefront on the east side of the Jefferson square. For a few days one of its two large picture windows displayed a huge sign that said something like “Trump won. We all know it.”

The sign’s no longer there. I don’t know why it was removed, but I’m glad it’s gone. In the first place, we don’t “all know it.” But in addition, the sign reflected poorly on most of the Republicans I know here.

Especially at the local level, most Republicans — and most Democrats, and most Libertarians, and most Independents — have the good of their fellow citizens at heart. Those who involve themselves in politics, over the many decades I’ve watched, do so because they believe in good government as they see it. And they believe in fair play.

To the others, like those who pledge allegiance to the Big Lie because Trump says so, after millions of fruitless hours spent nationwide investigating claims of fraud: is that all you’ve got?

Rick Morain is a reporter and columnist with the Jefferson Herald.

Rick Morain

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