By Doug Porter
Based on the say-so of a conspiracy-mongering website that claims 9/11 was an inside job and the killing of children at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged with actors, the President-elect of the United States now says there were millions of illegal votes cast in the 2016 general election.
Donald Trump didn’t make this claim at a press conference flanked by attorneys ready to force states to throw out those votes; he made it on Twitter. And he didn’t make this claim based on any actual evidence at all.
He followed up this initial lie by naming California (along with New Hampshire and Virginia) as states with serious voter fraud. Again, the claim was made without evidence.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
The claims of voter fraud appear to have gained traction in conservative circle after Infowars, the conspiracy theory-laden website, published an article on Nov. 14 under the headline, “Report: 3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens.”
The story cites an analysis by Gregg Phillips, who claims to be the founder of a voting app named VoteStand and who was previously associated with Newt Gingrich’s Winning Our Future super PAC. Phillips has declined to provide any evidence to PolitiFact or reporters to support his assertions of fraud. But he tweeted Sunday evening that he would “release a comprehensive research study to the public, Attorney General [nominee Jeff] Sessions and all interested parties.”
Radio host Alex Jones, who runs Infowars, has faced criticism for promoting unsubstantiated — and often bizarre — conspiracy theories, including that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which resulted in the death of 20 children, is a hoax, and that Hillary Clinton is a “demon from Hell.”
Trump called Jones just days after the election to thank him for his support.
Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016
There are three things you need to know about this latest meltdown.
- It’s a projection (Trump’s campaign ran a serious voter suppression effort)
- It’s a shame. Trump’s ‘facts’ are finally being challenged. It may be too late.
- It’s a distraction. The New York Times investigation into Trump’s conflicts of interest would make Congressman Darrell Issa ecstatic, if only there was a Democrat in the story.
Looking in the Mirror
Donald Trump is unhappy about news accounts showing Hillary Clinton with a more than two million vote lead in the popular vote. A source close to the president-elect told Politico he was angered by the Wisconsin recount triggered by Green Party nominee Jill Stein and the Clinton campaign’s acquiescence, so he hit back. Even though he’s won and it shouldn’t matter, he isn’t letting it go.
The truth of the matter, as the Clinton campaign pointed out over the weekend, is that there no compelling evidence for a recount (emphasis mine):
Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides. If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well. We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount. But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.
Republican legislators have been busy over the past few years figuring out ways to exclude certain people from voting, The Brennan Center says 14 states had new voting laws on the books for the first time in a presidential election, ranging from strict voter ID to curtailed early voting locations.
The Trump campaign reportedly spent $150 million in the final weeks of the election season targeting Blacks and young women with Facebook and Instagram ads aimed at discouraging voter participation.
As consumer protection attorney Joel Winston pointed out at Medium:
Throughout the campaign, President-Elect Donald J. Trump shrewdly invested in Facebook advertisements to reach his supporters and raise campaign donations. Facing a short-fall of momentum and voter support in the polls, the Trump campaign deployed its custom database, named Project Alamo, containing detailed identity profiles on 220 million people in America.
With Project Alamo as ammunition, the Trump digital operations team covertly executed a massive digital last-stand strategy using targeted Facebook ads to ‘discourage’ Hillary Clinton supporters from voting. The Trump campaign poured money and resources into political advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, the Facebook Audience Network, and Facebook data-broker partners…
…The goal was to depress Hillary Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” the senior Trump official said. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”
For example, Trump’s digital team created a South Park-style animation of Hillary Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” Then, Trump’s animated “super predator” political advertisement was delivered to certain African American voters via Facebook “dark posts” — nonpublic paid posts shown only to the Facebook users that Trump chose.
If there’s one thing you can be certain about with Donald Trump, it’s his rants about his enemies are usually a reflection of his own weaknesses.
A Lie is a Lie is a Lie
The news media has been slow to catch on to the fact Donald Trump has no problem telling any lie serving his purpose, but they’re learning. (I’m not even sure he cares.)
Here’s the New York Times headline: Trump Claims, With No Evidence, That ‘Millions of People’ Voted Illegally… the Washington Post: Trump pushes conspiracy theory that ‘millions’ voted illegally for Clinton… the Union-Trib/LA Times: Trump falsely claims that millions voted illegally, costing him the popular vote… the Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Alleges That ‘Millions of People’ Voted Illegally
This swing towards honest reporting is critical, as Ned Resnikoff points out at Think Progress:
When political actors can’t agree on basic facts and procedures, compromise and rule-bound argumentation are basically impossible; politics reverts back to its natural state as a raw power struggle in which the weak are dominated by the strong.
That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it.
To men like [Putin advisor] Surkov, that is exactly as it should be. Government policy should not be set through democratic oversight; instead, the government should “manage” democracy, ensuring that people can express themselves without having any influence over the machinations of the state. According to a 2011 openDemocracy article by Richard Sakwa, a professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, Surkov is “considered the main architect of what is colloquially known as ‘managed democracy,’ the administrative management of party and electoral politics.”
For idiots saying Automatic Registration registered undocumented in CA. IT’S NOT EVEN IN PLACE YET & wont ever auto register AB60 licensees
— Lorena Gonzalez (@LorenaSGonzalez) November 28, 2016
Yes, except they’re not idiots. They’re liars. We should stop treating deliberate propaganda as stupidity or mistake. https://t.co/zvhBQKcaFZ
— Will Moore (@WillMooreSD) November 28, 2016
Don’t Look Now…
Cory Doctorow points out (and I agree) Trump’s history of well-timed tantrums, coincidentally happening at the same time as bad news hits the media. Was it a coincidence the hissy fit over the Hamilton performance came following Trump’s $25 million fraud settlement?
…the real story this weekend is Trump’s conflicts of interest, lavishly documented by the attentive Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero of the New York Times.
* He has business interests with Jose E. B. Antonio, who is also Philippines dictator Rodrige Duterte’s Special Envoy to the USA
* Similar conflicts potentially exist is some 20 known countries where the Trump organization has dealings
* Trump also has a long, undisclosed list of foreign creditors, potentially including sovereign wealth funds
* Trump has used his political campaign to curry favor with foreign leaders: after his businesses in Turkey were threatened as a result of his call for a ban on Muslims entering the USA, he stood up for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s firing of 100,000 public servants and shuttering of 129 news agencies, rescuing his business interests in the process
The Times goes on to report, in detail on Trump’s political and business conflicts in Brazil, India, Turkey, The Philippines, Ireland, Scotland, and around the world — including filing a trademark on “The American Idea,” among other trademarks, that (according to the application), Trump will use to link his global holdings to the office of the US President.
The point here is that we cannot allow the abnormal to become normal.
Calling out Trump’s lies won’t change the results of the election.
Calling out Trump’s lies won’t stop the oncoming onslaught of cultural/political/social retribution as Trump’s appointees move into place.
But if we allow him to re-write history, there is zero chance of survival for political democracy in a post-Trump era.
On This Day: 1929 – Ernie Nevers (St. Louis Cardinals) became the first professional football player to score six touchdowns in a single game. 1943 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to map out strategy concerning World War II. 1953 – Some 400 New York City photoengravers working for the city’s newspapers, supported by 20,000 other newspaper unionists, began what became an 11-day strike, shutting down the papers.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.