What are we to say about the events in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021?
I don’t want to talk to the guy adorned in fur and buffalo horns who fancies himself the “Q Shaman,” or the angry cracker from Arkansas who took a selfie perched in Pelosi’s office. Or the people smashing poles through the doors and windows of the Capitol and parading around with vandalized parts of our democracy. Let the FBI and the cops deal with them.
I DO want to talk to most of the people who voted for Trump this past year. And to the GOP officials who have enabled this chaos. I have no argument with your vote — it’s for you to decide, as is mine. You are welcome to your politics. We are allowed to disagree about policy. This isn’t about policies, right or left, big government or small. We’ll always be discussing that stuff, trying to figure out what works. That’s how we work. We elect a Democrat, we elect a Republican, we keep moving on. And that is politics, which is NOT a dirty word, just a messy business.
But I do want to talk about news, and information, and where we get it. Because if you think the election was stolen, you’re misinformed. You’ve been lied to. You are wrong, sorry, but the evidence just doesn’t back that whole “Stop the Steal” up.
How do I know this and not the contrary?
Because I listen to reliable sources. People who put their name to what they say. People who deal with facts and data, not just opinion and innuendo. Who are willing to test those facts and that data.
I want to rely on reporters (and others) who are present in the moment and actually SEE what is happening. Who say who they’ve talked to, and where they got their information. Who ask questions and think carefully about what they see and hear. And who do not look for answers by blaming some imagined “they” and imagining wild conspiracies.
When I hear a guest on a news show — and I mean a NEWS show, not Hannity/Maddow/Younameit Talking Opinion Head — if they make an assertion, I want someone to question it, or some other guest to offer another viewpoint. And I want some context — again, why do you think that? What’s your opinion or analysis grounded on?
Take this one: “It could be true, I don’t know if it is but people say…” Or: “We all know that such-and-such is true…” I would ask, what people? Who says that? What’s it based on? Is it a rumor? How do we KNOW that? On what basis would you believe it? Is it convincing in itself, or do you believe it because it just confirms what you already believe?
The facts tell us there is no widespread electron fraud. It’s a myth, perpetuated by some politicians and others for years now to serve whatever mission they’re on. But the facts don’t bear it out. That’s according to election officials from both parties, impartial observers, studies of elections and voting, and lots of court cases. Beyond an occasional bum ballot, there’s no “widespread” fraud.
If you believe DJT won by a landslide and had the election “stolen” from him, then my vote and 81 million or so others don’t count. Then thousands of people across the country — election officials, judges, poll watchers and other people who actually pay attention to what’s going on (instead of just imagining what’s going on) — are involved in some impossibly elaborate conspiracy to deprive you of your political rights.
For example: Do you think more people were counted as voting than actually are registered to vote? That contention is based on outdated numbers and did not reflect reality on election day 2020. It’s pretty easy to debunk that claim, if you care to look at a reliable news source (like Reuters News Service). But, you say, that’s the fake news / mainstream media! OK, so check their sources. And if the sources are all a part of your “conspiracy” to steal the election, then you’ll have to ask yourself, are the elections officials (from BOTH parties) who tally these counts in 15 or so different states ALL in cahoots?
This is where skepticism and accuracy count: If you look at the facts — like, WHEN were those registration numbers tallied? — you will see the problem. If you don’t ask these kinds of questions, which a well-intentioned journalist usually does, then you’re just looking to confirm what you already believe. Even if what you already believe is untrue.
Or the lie about how the vote changed overnight. It changed because the people in various states charged with counting the ballots kept counting the ballots — legitimate ballots. Many of them mailed-in ballots.
A lot of people mailed in their vote. Why? They were worried about contracting Covid (which is not a hoax; ask the families of the 400,000 who have died, or the hospital nurse down the block from you). Those people leaned Democratic, because Trump and his cohort were telling you not to worry about Covid, and that mail voting would be fraudulent. It wasn’t, and when the votes were counted, the election swung the other way.
Does a “stolen election” actually make sense to you? Do you actually believe that something becomes true just because someone says it’s so? Because Trump, who has demonstrably lied thousands of times to us, says it’s so? Because some person just spouting their opinions says so? Or because a mysterious online person anonymously dubbed “Q” says so?
Is it so hard for you to step back from your anger and ask yourself, “Does this really make sense? Or am I just repeating a slogan because it feels good?” (This test applies to any part of the political spectrum.) There is comfort in belonging to a group that feels it has the “inside” scoop. But if it’s all based on fantasy, misdirection, bad information and lies, you’re heading toward Jonestown, my friend. Or, perhaps, a shirtless guy dressed in a buffalo hat with his face painted red, white and blue invading the U.S. Capitol, armed with a spear.
It is indeed “our house.” All 331 million of us. Not just the guys in camo with guns and Trump signs. That’s why we have elected representatives, to help sort out our differences.
One congressman who spoke to the crowd outside the White House on Jan. 6 characterized those of us who disagree with the president (or just with him) as “anti-Christian Socialists.”
Really? And everyone who voted for Trump is a racist/facist whatever?
I voted for Biden. I’m not a socialist, nor anti-Christian. I’m a moderate, leaning a bit left of center. But if I WAS a socialist and NOT a Christian, would that matter? I get to live here, too, this is my country, too. The Bill of Rights and plenty of other foundational sources will back me up on that. So yeah, I’m not treading on you; don’t tread on me, either.
I am not alone in my fear for the consequences of denying the results of the 2020 election. We have seen where it leads, and it’s clear there is a continuing threat of civil unrest.
We know Joe Biden won, and we know it was a fair and free election. But some large portion of our people have been persistently misled by some of our leaders. The charges of voter fraud are a lie: There has been no widespread fraud; most people in the country know it, and the Republicans in Congress know it, too.
Obviously a small and noisy slice of the populace, whether because they have been misled or for their own reasons, is willing to commit violence to get their way. Their position is based on lies spread by the president and many members of his party, among others. The effort to challenge the Electoral College votes was a cynical ploy that perpetuates the lie.
The Republican Party and its leadership need to stop this deception, and censor your own who encourage these falsehoods and stoke the fevers that are leading to armed rebellion. You need to stand up to extremists and live by the foundational principals of this nation. Catering to the whims of a self-absorbed and unstable president has done enough damage. Please, look into your hearts, and find the courage to stand up and speak the truth to the American people.