There is a new narrative that’s sweeping the world of the rightwing media just now. It goes approximately like this: All of a sudden, Republicans are being indicted for what used to be a routine political process. Namely, Republicans are being indicted for challenging the results of elections.
First, don’t let anyone get away with telling you that. They’re being coy. When they say “Republicans are being indicted“ what they really mean to say is “Donald Trump is being indicted.” But they don’t want to put too fine a point on it because they want to make it sound generic, as if all Republicans are being indicted right, left and centre for this perfectly ordinary, perfectly legitimate, perfectly legal activity.
Second, use this perfectly legitimate whataboutism to come back to them. Tell them that, if Republicans are being indicted for challenging elections, what about Kari Lake? For nearly a year she has been galavanting around the country, telling anyone who will listen that her election for governor of Arizona was stolen, that the outcome was deliberately falsified by the Deep State, that she was swindled out of a legitimate win. So how come she hasn’t been indicted for challenging her election, hmm?
Do you see what they’re doing? Members of the rightwing media are, in effect, attempting to attach a phoney slippery slope to their lie, and they are hoping their viewers, listeners and readers don’t notice. Republicans are not being indicted right and left for challenging elections. They are not being indicted for the simple reason that it’s not against the law, and nobody ever said it was.
As much as we all sometimes wish it were otherwise, being a jerk isn’t against the law. Kari Lake is free to run her stupid mouth about how her election was stolen from now until doomsday. That’s her right, and that right is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. (It is a little known corollary to the Constitution that we are not required to listen to her. But that’s another story.)
You see, Kari Lake is not under arrest because Kari Lake has not broken the law, as far as we know. She did not illegally obtain voter data from voting machines. She did not conspire to submit false documents into the record. She did not foment an insurrection. She did not conspire to undermine, interrupt, hinder or interfere with the lawful process of confirming her loss in Arizona. She did not conspire to seize voting machines in Arizona. She did not, in short (and to quote Donald Trump’s Georgia indictment) “knowingly and willfully [join] a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election.” Neither did she enter into a “common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering.”
In other words, rightwing media, and I am here addressing you directly, do you get the freaking difference? Of course you do. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You don’t exist to warn us of the dire consequences of Democrats deliberately “weaponizing” the law. You exist to lie. You exist to push MAGA propaganda. You exist to promote your lord and saviour Donald Trump. You have, in short, become corrupted by Trumpism, and it quite obviously shows.
So if anyone ever tries to tell you, brothers and sisters, that Republicans are being indicted for challenging elections, that all these indictments against Donald Trump are creating a “cooling effect” against election denialism, remind them of Kari Lake. As odious and evil as election denialism may be, it is not against the law. Creating laws against such things is what fascists do. It’s what Donald Trump would do, if we were ever unlucky enough to live to see him restored to power. 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.