Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election fair and square. It is hard to believe that this truth is even being debated more than a year after the election was held.
Still, The Associated Press performed a useful public service by conducting a thorough review of potential voter fraud in the six states that tipped the election to Joe Biden.
The results of that review were reported this past week. For those who want to believe that voter fraud is a huge problem in this country, the tabulation will be disappointing.
Out of 25.5 million votes cast in those six states last year, less than 475 were identified by election officials as possibly being fraudulent. That translates into a rate of about one suspicious vote out of 50,000 cast.
Even if all those suspicious votes had been counted, which they weren’t, and even if all those ballots had been cast for Biden, which they weren’t, the most they would have represented in any one state was 2 percentage points of Biden’s margin of victory.
In other words, the Democrats’ “great steal” was at most a meaningless, unorchestrated “petty theft.”
Don’t expect Trump or his fiercest supporters to accept that. When presented with the AP’s findings, the former president continued to maintain that “hundreds of thousands of votes” were illegally cast, while still providing no proof of that allegation.
Whether Trump is truly deluded or just playing a cynical game, there are plenty of his supporters who have been convinced of the lie. They are not going to believe anyone or anything that does not confirm that baseless conclusion.
It’s caused them to turn on Republican state officials who would not give credence to Trump’s conspiracy theories. It’s caused them to believe any yarn spinner on social media over long-established and fair-minded reporters of the news, such as The Associated Press.
This distrust of institutions, whether it be government election officials, the courts or the traditional media, threatens to undermine our democracy and the expectation that when there is a transfer of power, it will be done peacefully.
The Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is a dramatic but small example of what can happen when a share of the populace has been led to believe that an election was so rife with cheating that the will of the majority was subverted. If more had bought into that lie, it could have produced rioting not only in Washington but in many of the states won by Biden.
To his discredit, Donald Trump was not content with filing lawsuit after lawsuit to try to overturn the election result. He also fomented the popular uprising that assembled in Washington and then breached the Capitol. Maybe he didn’t envision that the crowd would take his angry rhetoric seriously and try to stop by force the congressional certification of Biden, but it certainly was a foreseeable outcome.
Many Republicans in Congress would like to put this ordeal behind them. Because they are afraid of the power that Trump still commands over the party’s ultraconservative base, they are downplaying the former president’s action and the severity of the attack that threatened the lives of even some of them. They claim that the continuing House investigation into the Jan. 6 uprising is a partisan political sideshow designed to salvage the Democrats from a predicted beating in the midterm elections next year.
Perhaps the number of witnesses and the amount of documentation being demanded are overkill, but the investigation being chaired by Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson is an important endeavor.
The panel, when it’s finished, should be able to lay out exactly what transpired, how involved Trump and his administration were in the orchestration of the insurrection, and whether there’s any accountability still to be demanded from those responsible for security at the Capitol.
The panel is already re-establishing not just the power of Congress to thoroughly investigate the executive branch but the imperative to do so when there is just cause. The worst domestic attack on the Capitol in our nation’s history certainly justifies not leaving any stone unturned to get to the truth.
Truth, unfortunately, has been one of the biggest casualties of the Trump presidency and its aftermath.
Inconvenient or unpleasant facts are not believed, but lies that confirm our prejudices are. It’s as if there are no absolutes. What my side believes is true, what your side believes is not.
A congressional or media investigation might not change that mind-set. Nevertheless, we can hope that if the public is presented with a steady dose of verifiable facts, it will eventually come around.
- Contact Tim Kalich at 662-581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.