The election is over, but the false narrative created by President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration is still going strong. That narrative will burrow into the American system and fester for decades, infecting voters’ trust in democracy, unless reality can dig it out.
For weeks now, the Sturm und Drang of tweets, lawsuits, protests and rightwing media rants about a stolen election have dominated conversations among those willing to talk about politics. The tweets continue to insist that the president did not lose the election.
The strength of the tweets shows up in polls with 80 percent of Trump voters still believing he won the election. The Trump campaign’s lawsuits to try to overturn the election have asserted that broken election rules or faulty vote counts or cheating are the foundations of the “stolen” election.
That’s the false narrative balloon into which a federal appeals court in Pennsylvania last Friday was just the latest to stick a big pin. In deciding the case that centered on a technical matter, three Republican-appointed judges unanimously laid out reality.
They wrote, “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” The unanimous decision included the words that should guide all discussions going forward: “Calling an election unfair does not make it so.”
This reflection of reality over fantasy was just the latest issued by a court of law. Even so, the president’s tweets about the election being a “total scam” and that the media refuses to report “the real facts and figures” continue despite the fact that the series of rulings issued so far has said otherwise.
Elections in the United States pit one candidate against another. One candidate wins, the other loses. That is Trump’s nightmare scenario.
His strategy for winning, as it has been throughout his entire adult life documented by more than one biographer, is to build and endlessly repeat the backstory that he didn’t lose.
It should be impossible to maintain that mirage this time. President-elect Joe Biden tallied 6.2 million more votes than Trump. Every state will certify the result. All judges have consistently and summarily tossed Trump’s lawyers and lawsuits out of their courts.
Though these facts are not a problem for a man who doesn’t traffic in facts, this election was as it appeared to be. It was competently executed and fairly decided, and President Trump lost.
He will leave office in January. He will almost certainly keep repeating his big lies about voter fraud, Democrats cheating and a stolen election. Americans should not fall for them.
Politics will be less divisive if all sides begin by accepting facts. Fortunately, America’s judges have shown the way by gaveling down the myth that just repeating something incessantly can make it true.
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