'Big Lie' Believers Want To Take Over All Our Elections
Back in the 1980s, the Christian Right started taking over the government. Not just by pushing people already in the government to take up their causes, which they'd been doing for a while with the Bob Jones University interracial dating ban situation, but by running for school boards and city councils and other low-level political offices that people don't pay a ton of attention to. This was how they started getting their influence/nonsense in everywhere, and probably why we spent no small part of the 2000s trying to stave off their efforts to kill sex-ed and force kids to learn the earth is 6,000 years old in biology class.
Since then, various other right-wing groups have emulated this tactic, and have been largely successful. The Tea Party people did it, the QAnon people are doing it, and now, some of the biggest promoters of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election are running to be secretaries of state in hopes they will be the ones running elections in the future. You know, to prevent all of the election stealing that didn't actually happen.
The candidates include Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, a leader of the congressional Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 Electoral College results; Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, one of the top proponents of the conspiracy-tinged vote audit in Arizona's largest county; Nevada's Jim Marchant, who sued to have his 5-point congressional loss last year overturned; and Michigan's Kristina Karamo, who made dozens of appearances in conservative media to claim fraud in the election.
All these candidates have been going around for months now claiming our electoral process is rigged and working hard to undermine faith in our elections. As a result of all of this rhetoric from them, people like them, and from certain former presidents, 55 percent of Republicans truly believe Donald Trump actually won the election. But now they want to put their faith in these supposedly "rigged" elections and trust that they can win them.
Finchem and Karamo are both running against Democratic incumbents, but both Marchant and Hice are running against other Republicans. In Hice's case, the Georgia congressman is running against Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state who became a right-wing boogeyman after declaring the Georgia election to have been free and fair.
In a three-page letter announcing his candidacy, Jody Hice accused Raffensperger of "backstabbing" Trump by refusing to overturn the election and declare him the winner, and claimed, rather ridiculously, that he worked "arm and arm with Stacey Abrams to deliver the presidency and Senate to the radical left."
What's the opposite of Dems in Dsarray? Is it Repubs in Ruin? Because these candidacies do appear to be making things pretty awkward between those claiming the election was rigged and the Republicans who were actually in charge of things at the time and are thus quite insistent they did not rig the election so Joe Biden could win.
As Stephen Richer, the Arizona Republican who was recently elected as Maricopa County's chief elections officer, explained to Politico:
"Mark Finchem is running for secretary of state. Process that," he said. "If the election was completely fraudulent, as he says, why would you run for secretary of state? What, do you think Dominion is going to rig it in your favor this time?"
"Why are you running if you do not believe in these elections?" he closed. "I would suggest that his actions speak a lot louder than his words."
In a subsequent interview with POLITICO, Richer analogized it to "revealed preference," an economics theory: "All these people, their true preferences and their true beliefs regarding the election system are more readily determined by their actions, which is to continue to run," he said, suggesting that if people really thought it was rigged, they wouldn't bother to run."
In other words, they're all very obviously full of shit about thinking the election system is rigged, because they wouldn't be running if they really believed that. But the fact is, they're saying it was rigged because they know that's what the Trump people want to hear. It's become a shorthand loyalty oath allowing Republican politicians to let Trump voters — and indeed all Republicans — know that they are on their side and will stick by them, regardless of how freaking ridiculous they have to sound in order to do so. That they will say 2 + 2 = 5 if that is what those voters want to hear and what Trump says they should say. Because it's not actually about what is true and what isn't, it's about the willingness to say things are not true out of loyalty and devotion to the base.
The only way to fight that is to show up in bigger numbers than they do and run for as many elected offices as they do, and to not allow a repeat of what happened with the Christian Right and the Tea Party.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse