The “big lie” is the name of a propaganda technique, originally coined by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, and denotes where a known falsehood is stated and repeated and treated as if it is self-evidently true, in hopes of swaying the course of an argument in a direction that takes the big lie for granted rather than critically questioning it or ignoring it.
On October 27, exactly one week before the Presidential election, President Trump continued to push his own “big lie” about our Presidential election and had this to say:
“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3rd, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws.”
TRUMP’S HISTORY OF PUSHING THE BIG LIE
During a 2016 presidential debate in which Trump had faced off against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, FOX news caster Mike Wallace asked then candidate Trump if he was prepared to concede to the winner, if he didn’t win. “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense,” Trump said during the debate. He had also said that if he did not win it meant the election was rigged.
Fast forward to July 15, 2020. In an exclusive wide-ranging interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, President Trump was asked if he was “a good loser”. Trump said that he wasn’t a good loser and he went on to add that he thinks “mail-in voting is going to rig the election.” This led Wallace to ask whether Trump may not accept the results of the election and Trump said “We’ll have to see.”
On September 23, Trump was asked at a press conference if he would “commit to a peaceful transferal of power” if he lost the election, Trump said:
“Well, we’re gonna have to see what happens. … You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are a disaster … Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a peaceful … there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”
PART OF THE BIG LIE IS MAIL IN VOTING IS FRAUDUELENT
Since the Wallace interview, Trump has engaged in repeated attacks on mail in voting as a pathway to voter fraud. It is a claim that is largely unsubstantiated and is an outright lie that Trump keeps repeating.
In April, Trump responding to a question about Wisconsin wanting to go to mail-in ballots said:
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they’re cheaters. … They’re fraudulent in many cases.”
Trump has also said that any expansion of mail ballots will lead to widespread fraud. Attorney General William Barr for his part has also said people should need an excuse to vote by mail. Trump has said no-excuse absentee voting is fine but claimed the Postal Service couldn’t handle the increase in election mail.
Trump has already laid the foundation to dispute the election outcome with his incessant lies that “mail-in ballots” will result in a rigged election. Trump’s false claims have already been used as an excuse for the Republican Party to purge voter-registration rolls, limit mail-in ballots, close polling stations in minority areas and challenge in-person voting by minorities. The best example is with the state of Texas where Governor Abbot ordered only one polling place or drop off for ballots per county that has millions residents and requiring hours of driving to hand deliver ballots.
Election experts say Trump’s critiques of mail-in voting is just another one of his many lies. Instead, they say mail-in voting is expected to improve voter turnout on the whole and there is little evidence that it will have a partisan effect by benefitting one party over the other.
The experts have been proven right that mail in voting has improved voter turnout overwhelmingly. As of October 19, over 71 million people have cast their ballots with early voting or mail in voting around the United States, surpassing the 58.3 million total pre-election votes cast in 2016. That’s almost half of the total presidential votes cast four years ago.
ONE NATIONAL ELECTION; MANY DIFFERENT TABULATIONS
Although there is only one national election for President and Vice President, each state and U.S. Territory has their own election processes and so every single state has a different deadlines to finish counting the vote. Many states give their elected Secretary of State and County Clerks at least a week after Election Day to “certify” their final election results.
Now that the coronavirus has resulted in millions voting by mail, it will likely delay election results. No doubt, many mail-in ballots will be arriving after Election Day. The majority of states do not start counting mail in ballots until election day itself. Some states allow mail in votes received after election day to be counted 3 days up to 7 days so long as they are post marked up to the day of the election. For that reason, final vote counting could take longer as officials rush to process millions of mail-in envelopes.
Notwithstanding the requirement and deadlines in election laws, the media always attempts to call elections as soon as possible by looking at precinct votes and county vote tallies, exit polls, and historical results to predict each state’s winner. The result is that national elections are often called well before the vote counting is even finished.
The danger in believing in media predictions are that they are unofficial and the wrong call can be considered disastrous in the public’s mind. The best example of this is when national media outlets projected in 2000 that Al Gore narrowly won Florida. The national media was forced to retract the call and later gave the state to George W. Bush. The false call resulted in weeks of recounts and uncertainty before the United States Supreme Court halted all recounting efforts. In 2012, Florida was once again extremely close. However, the national news outlets learned a lesson from the Gore-Bush election and waited two days before finally calling the state for President Obama.
ELECTORIAL COLLEGE WIN THE “BIG IF”
When it come to the Presidential election, the big “if” is always the electoral college. A person can lose the popular vote, but still win the electoral college as was the case 4 years ago when Clinton beat Trump by over 3 million votes, but Trump won the electoral college count because of winning by small margins in four major swing states.
Electoral College members meet in early December to elect the President. Congress then counts electoral votes in early January. In other words, national-level results are not officially tabulated until about two months after Election Day. Voters usually know the Presidential election’s outcomes within hours after the polls close because local election officials are able to work quickly to count ballots and release unofficial tallies soon after the polls close.
The reality is, any delay in the unofficial results due to mail-in voting or other logistical problems would not be illegal as Trump has claimed or for that matter unusual under most states laws.
A JUCIAL GIANT REPLACED BY RIGHT WING OPERATIVE
Within a few days after liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, Trump and the Republican Senate went into over drive immediately almost breaking their necks to replace her with Amy Comer Briant. Briant was confirmed by the Senate on October 26 as Trump’s 3rd Supreme Court Justice with only Republican Senators voting. Her appointment gives the court a firm conservative majority for years to come, unless a Democrat Senate decides to remove a few by impeachment or Congress expands the court, neither which is far from certain but unlikely.
Trump himself said he wanted Amy Comer Briant confirmed and on the bench as soon as possible before the election believing the election will be contested in the Supreme Court. It is more likely than not that the Supreme court will be more than happy to once again interfere with the national election as it did with the Bush v. Gore election especially with 3 Trump appointed Supreme Court Justices.
TRUMP’S CALLS TO ARMS
On April 17 of this year, Trump began a campaign of promoting civil disobedience during the pandemic. He tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”, “LIBERATE MINNISOTA!”
On Friday, May 29, President Donald Trump tweeted amid unrest in Minneapolis that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The tweet was the same language used by a Miami police chief in 1967 who believed that violent protests should be met with deadly force.
Back in May and Soon after his telephone conference call with the country’s governors, President Trump declared himself “your president of law and order.” He went on to say:
“… If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. … I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights … . “
Trump said he would call out and mobilize “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace.
When Trump says “I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights”, many of his supporters could easily take it to mean it as call for vigilantism.
For the full 4 years of his presidency, Trump has refused to denounce right wing white supremist and militias. During the first Presidential debate Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace to disavow white supremacy during a part of the debate focused on race. Wallace asked whether Trump would urge white supremacist groups that inflamed violence at nationwide protests to “stand down.”
In response to the question, Trump said “give me a name” when asked to denounce a specific group, and former Vice President Joe Biden called out the Proud Boys. Trump refused to denounce any far-right or white supremacist groups, and he then pivoted to talk about antifa and said:
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”
THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO
Despite the likely delay in tabulating all votes on election day, Trump and his staunches supporters are insisting that the election’s result need to be known on election night. It’s likely that they are counting on more Trump supporters preferring to vote in person than by absentee and by mail thereby resulting in an early lead.
The nightmare scenario is Trump will declare victory on election night and order his party to contest the election results in the battleground states by challenging the mail in ballot votes. The Republican party is already gearing up to file suit to prevent the certification of the election results in the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. If Trump in fact refuses to concede the election, its likely there will be chaos in the streets, with both pro and anti Trump protests and violence erupting and with a Trump call to arms of right-wing militias.
According to the national polls, President Trump is heading for defeat on November 3 both in the popular vote and in the electoral college vote. A similar presidential election happened in the 1876 presidential election between democrat Samuel J. Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Democrat Tilden was leading on election day in both the popular vote and in the electoral college. The results of the election were contested in the 3 states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Congress appointed a commission to adjudicate the dispute. The congress voted along partisan lines to hand all three states to republican Rutherford B. Hayes that gave Hayes a 185 to 184 majority in the electoral college electing him president.
COMMENATARY AND ANALYSIS
The danger of an undemocratic outcome on November 3 is very real. If there is no clear-cut winner on election night, with Biden narrowly ahead in the electoral college but with one or more of the states of Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Texas still too close to call, the United States democracy will be near a full-scale meltdown or near a civil war in the streets.
Trump has already acknowledged and refuses to denounce armed right-wing militias. It is very easy to imagine how they will respond if he declares himself the winner and demands that his followers take up arms to keep him in power.
One of the most certain ways the nightmare scenario cannot occur is if Trump in fact loses the election by numbers too large to contest. When they say this is the most important election of our lifetime, that is not at all an exaggeration.
There are 4 full days left to vote. If you have not already voted, please do so because this time there truly is too much at stake.
A link to a related news article is here: