Among my favorite opinion writers is Frank Bruni writing for the New York Times. His newsletter on Thursday takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the Republican Party’s new favourite toy: election denial. For months, they have been planning and plotting how to overcome their losses on November 8th and they will leave no stone unturned. Never before in the history of this nation … and I hope never again, but … sigh. Anyway, see what Frank says about it all …
Heads, Republicans win. Tails, Democrats cheated.
27 October 2022
I appreciate little about Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona, but I do thank her for her candor. For her transparency. For laying out and laying bare the double standard that she and other Republican candidates and leaders embrace:
A Republican victory in a tightly contested race means that Democrats’ desires or schemes to corrupt it didn’t pan out. Let freedom ring! A Democratic victory means that George Soros cast a magic spell over voters while a global cabal of socialists and pedophiles used space beams to scramble the results that voting machines spit out.
Those weren’t Lake’s exact words in a recent interview with Dana Bash on CNN, but that was the spirit of them.
Bash asked Lake about her crackpot insistence that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump — a fiction that happens to enjoy special favor in Arizona — and whether Lake was prepared to concede graciously if her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, prevailed in the midterms on Nov. 8.
“I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result,” Lake said, oracularly and obnoxiously.
Bash rightly pressed her. What if she lost?
“I’m going to win the election,” Lake repeated, word for robotic word, “and I will accept that result.”
I don’t know how you interpret that, but here’s my translation: The only outcome she will consider legitimate is her own victory. Anything else is potential grounds for a fresh round of rancor and a new cycle of conspiracy theories. She’s poised to pump more poison into the body politic. For Lake and too many other Republicans, there are just two possibilities: validation or victimization. There’s no such thing as losing fair and square.
Republicans are fashioning a politics without accountability. They’re rigging reality itself. And Lake’s interview with Bash was one of those moments that captured, in miniature, the broader dynamics and dysfunctions of its time.
Lake argued, for example, that the bogus issue of election integrity must be prioritized and addressed because many Americans believe it should be. See how that works? You sow the seeds of doubt. Then when doubt grows, you say: Look at all that doubt! It’s a garden, it’s a thicket, it’s a wild anti-Eden all its own. It must be tamed — and you know how? Elect Kari Lake. Bow to Ron DeSantis. Because they’re spotlighting that doubt. They’re boldly confronting it. They’re not letting evidence, or the lack thereof, get in the way of emotion.
A reasonable person might ask: If the system has been corrupted, if the counting can’t be trusted, why should we accept a win by Lake? Or by DeSantis? Or by any other Republican who is telling us how degraded the vote has become, how suspicious the returns are?
That’s my favorite part of their theatrical panic: how conveniently selective it is.
The same system that tallied fewer votes for Trump than for Joe Biden in 2020 also tallied more votes for many Republican senators and members of Congress than for their Democratic rivals, but Republicans didn’t emit so much as a peep of concern about those counts. The space beams, you see, operate with surgical precision.
I shouldn’t joke. This is no laughing matter. If enough Americans exalt feelings over facts, insist on their preferred version of events rather than the actual one, refuse to subjugate their personal wants to any public good and reject the processes and institutions that enable group decisions, we have chaos. We all lose.
And I, for one, am not prepared to accept that result.