Donald Trump is doing an excellent job creating a fantasy world—let’s call it “the MAGA-verse”—in which he won the 2020 presidential election.
On regular planet Earth, of course, Trump lost. By a good margin. The vote count shows that, as does the fact that the Trump campaign’s desperate, and often disgraceful, claims of voter fraud are standing up as well as a piece of tissue paper in the rain.
There are those of us living here who would like to move on with things and see, for once in a long time, some norms of our democratic system remain intact. Norms like a concession speech, a willingness to help a new administration prepare to hit the ground running and a peaceful transfer of power.
But Trump’s fantasy world is making that hard, largely because facts tend to burn up when entering the MAGA-verse. So I figured maybe if we fired enough facts in that direction, one or two might find a way to sneak in.
Let’s see what happens.
1) Democratic and Republican voting officials in states across the country have clearly stated—to the Associated Press, to the New York Times and to myriad local and national publications—that the 2020 election went smoothly and there is no evidence of widespread fraud of any sort.
2) A team of international monitors invited by the Trump Administration to observe the vote count in states across the country released a preliminary report praising the election process, saying it found no evidence of fraud and criticizing Trump for spreading baseless allegations.
3) Trump spent months priming his supporters for a disputed election, claiming there would be massive fraud and even saying, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” He has not claimed any fraud in states where he won, nor has he or any Republican lawmaker suggested fraud relating to Republican victories in races involving congressional seats.
4) In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Trump guaranteed there would be widespread voter fraud. After he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by millions, he launched a commission to investigate the wholly nonspecific specter of “widespread voter fraud.” That commission, predictably, was disbanded in early 2018 without any preliminary findings or an ounce of evidence to support Trump’s claims.
5) Trump and a number of other Republicans and campaign officials have repeatedly decried “the media” for calling the election in favor of Joe Biden. They have acted as if it’s unheard of for news organizations to make such calls. In fact, The Associated Press has been analyzing vote counts since before the Civil War, and television networks started calling races in 1960. It’s notable that neither President Trump nor any of his GOP supporters questioned the media calling the 2016 election in his favor.
6) Hillary Clinton quickly conceded the 2016 election in a phone call to Trump. His lead in pivotal swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania were smaller then than Biden’s lead over Trump is in those states now. The day after the election, Clinton gave a concession speech, saying: “I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president.”
7) Rather than concede, Trump, his campaign and his allies in right-wing media circles are disseminating outrageous fabrications and lies about the election. One suspect tweet claimed a dead woman named Donna Brydges voted. The AP spoke with the very much alive Brydges by phone. Still, the dishonest tweet had already been shared 50,000 times.
8) Trump tweeted this about the vote in Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania prevented us from watching much of the Ballot count. Unthinkable and illegal in this country.” There is no evidence to back up that claim. In fact, a Trump campaign lawyer admitted as such before a federal judge last week. The judge demanded the lawyer confirm whether Trump observers were in the ballot-counting room, and he said: “There’s a nonzero number of people in the room.” That’s just embarrassing.
9) Speaking of embarrassing, the Trump campaign waved around a 234-page binder of affidavits from Detroit poll watchers alleging voter fraud. The claims are vague, at best, and most are along the lines of this one: “I saw a few dozen military ballots be counted. Although I cannot provide specific numbers of names, I can estimate that at least 80 percent of the military ballots I saw were straight ticket democrat or simply had Joe Biden’s name filled in on them. I had always been told that military personnel tended to be more conservative, so this stuck out to me as the day went on.” That tea’s so weak it tastes like hot water.
I can sling barrage after barrage of facts like these, example after example of shameless hypocrisy and internal contradictions. But first I need some sign from the MAGA-verse.
Are any of these making it through?
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.