By Thomas Larson
According to Donald Trump, interviewed in People magazine in 1998, “If I were to run [for President], I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
And, according to President Trump, two weeks after losing the Nov. 3 election, he tweeted, “I won the election!” He had warned many times prior to the vote that the only way he would lose the election would be if it was rigged, and the only way he would win was if the election was fair, a remarkably trenchant conjuration of the Three Witches’ spell on Macbeth, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”
And, according to Chanel Dion of One America News and Trump legal team lawyer, Sidney Powell, software engineers in Michigan and Georgia (and in parts of 26 other states) contracted with Dominion Voting Systems, which has financial ties to Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, and the seven-years-dead Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, to make ballot-counting machines switch votes from Republican to Democrat presidential candidates or to leave out a prescribed number of votes for President Trump in Joe Biden’s favor.
And, according to President Trump’s attorney, Rudi Giuliani, the Trump campaign alleged “widespread nationwide voter fraud” in a Pennsylvania courtroom. When asked by U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann to provide evidence of the fraud, Giuliani cited two voters whose ballots they had mistakenly marked were not allowed to be corrected and tossed out. With other evidence still in the works, Giuliani said it was the tip of the iceberg—millions of voting irregularities in the Keystone State. Pondering these two instances, Brann said, “You’re alleging that the two individual plaintiffs were denied the right to vote. At bottom, you’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth. Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”
And, according to Republican operatives, in none of the states that President Trump won was it necessary to recount the vote because no machine turned a Biden vote to a Trump vote, because every mail-in ballot signature was correctly verified, and because every red-state poll worker was scrupulously honest even as partisan poll observers looked on.
And, according to an anonymous political observer, overheard on NPR, the fraudulent voting perpetrated by dead people and by dogs and by Mickey Mouse and the arrival of “mystery ballots” on food trucks post-midnight and the blocking of Republican overseers all combined to deny Trump the election. The fraud was so vast and so perfectly executed by Democratic operatives within the state and county registrars of voters, the observer said, that there’s no evidence of its existence.
And, according to Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny, if people believe the lie that President Trump won, he is “transforming democratic politics, which is based on facts and evidence, into authoritarian politics, which is based on faith and loyalty,” from which a new religion, Trumpism, will emerge, a creed in which things are true because the leader says they are true and because all election losses are to be transformed, via “the margin of litigation,” into victories.
And further, according to Timothy Snyder, that “if you believe you were cheated by the other side in one election, then that means the next time there’s a vote, you can justify your cheating by simply telling yourself that because they did it, I can do it, too.”
(And, according to historians of the Third Reich, when Hitler wept at the Luftwaffe’s demolition of Warsaw, he told his officers through caustic tears, “How wicked these people must have been to make me do this to them.”)
(And, according to an unidentified major, a member of the U.S. military command in Vietnam, during the Tet offensive in 1968, in which one foray was designed to rout the Viet Cong from a village of some 35,000 South Vietnamese civilians, “it became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.”)
(And, according to an Associated Press story following President George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, 75% of Republicans who voted for him believed that the Iraq War was justified because Saddam Hussein was the mastermind behind 9/11.)
And, according to language-based authorities on the ambiguities between reason and madness, no tautological or paradoxical or deceptive statement has gone unused by liars and swindlers and utopians and dictators and assassins and military juntas and death squads and victors in war and religious clerics.
And, according to the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, when language is deployed to escalate power, it is “a language that is all the more persuasive because it is proud of being ethically illiterate and because it accepts, as realistic, the basic irrationality of its own tactics.”
And, according to Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker, “What if language is exactly what the [tyrant] has mastered, and bad people tend to have a better command of language than good ones, who are often tongue-tied in the face of the world’s complexities? What if the tragedies of tyranny were, in the first instance, tragedies of eloquence misapplied—of language used for evil ends, but used well?”
And, according to a South Dakota nurse, even as patients are dying of complications from COVID-19, a few of them deny—“This can’t be happening; it’s not real”—that they are infected with a virus that President Trump, from the Oval Office podium, assured them would disappear like a miracle.
And, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 52% of Republicans (newer polls are pushing this percentage even higher) believe a pre-Nov. 3, nationwide, centrally-planned conspiracy in six battleground states purloined the election from President Trump who will be hailed forevermore (by his base) as having trounced Biden—“by a lot”—despite having lost by the same electoral spread, 306 to 232, which Trump won in 2016, perhaps as fair as it was foul.
Thomas Larson is a San Diego-based freelance writer.