The formula is simple. Every time a Republican loses an election it’s rigged. Every time a Republican wins an election it’s fair and honest. Don’t think for a minute that a lie as transparent as that will be disavowed by any group of any significant size on the red side of the ledger. It won’t. Truth is not required, not even the barest facsimile of the truth.
When the recall effort against Gavin Newsom failed, the egos of the Republicans who mounted the offensive were too frail to admit they lost. Even before the vote, lies about a rigged election were already being mooted. The leading Republican candidate to replace Newsom, Larry Elder, predicted “shenanigans.” Now that he’s lost he has his “proof.”
No one would even attempt to promote such obvious lies from the Trump playbook if America were a nation entirely composed of science-believing, fact-based, rational thinkers. Republicans are anti-science for a reason. They know an educated public is harder to deceive. That’s why bad grammar and bad spelling are overrepresented among Republicans. Ignorant people are easier to lie to than educated people.
As you may recall, this madness began not in 2020 but in 2016. Like most people Trump expected to lose the 2016 election. He was already sowing seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of the 2016 election early on. Even after he won he claimed it was rigged. Trump said that the 2.8 million popular votes that Hillary Clinton beat him by were compliments of “illegal aliens,” even though it’s practically impossible for non-citizens to vote in a presidential election. The truth never got in Trump’s way.
Now Republicans are using the same playbook. The smarter ones are vaguely aware of how stupid it makes them look. They’re just smart enough to be embarrassed by it. So they try to stay quiet and hope no one notices.
The really stupid ones are proud of their stupidity. They shout their outrage and demand recounts and insist that the Deep State is stealing votes from them and giving those votes to Democrats. Expect to see more of this in every election Republicans lose for a long time to come. In fact, now that I think about it, here’s hoping we see a lot more of it. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.