Last night, Democrats retook the Senate, and it’s crystal clear why: because Donald Trump and his superfans pushed the notion that the presidential election in Georgia had been rigged. As many of us predicted, this depressed Republican turnout — which was high, but nowhere near as high as that of the Democrats.
Donald Trump owns this defeat.
If Trump had simply accepted his loss, there would be no grandstanding by Hawley and Cruz. There would have been no rallies with Lin Wood telling a huge crowd of Trumpers to stay home from this election. It is as certain as anything in politics that Trump caused the GOP to lose the Senate.
From what I am seeing from Trump superfans this morning, they refuse to acknowledge this. Well of course they do! What is Trumpism about, if not denying reality? For five years, this guy has made the stupidest pronouncements possible — that Obama had tapped his phones; that COVID would just disappear; that this election was stolen from him — and a machine of disinformation has kicked into gear to try to find evidence to back up whatever stupid thing Trump said. Why should the disinformation stop now?
And the culmination of all of it was last night. Trumpers stay home in Georgia, while Trumpers in D.C. fought in the streets with police:
And meanwhile, Donald Trump handed the Majority Leader title to Chuck Schumer. And today, we will see more of the same, with the clownish spectacle of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz and the rest of the coup caucus standing to degrade democracy while they faux-piously and very insincerely claim they are trying to save it. Jonathan Rauch put it well in a piece for Persuasion:
For four years, President Trump has made Russian-style “firehose of falsehood” disinformation tactics a staple of his governance. After the election, he and his allies have taken those tactics to a new level, deploying lies and lawsuits to convince tens of millions of Americans, and half of all Republicans, that the election was rigged. Having turned courts into propaganda channels, they will do the same to Congress on Wednesday, using the final stage of the presidential-selection process—the heart of America’s constitutional order—as a disinformation platform.
Meanwhile, we have two competing narratives as to what Mike Pence thinks his role is. First, we have that of the Fake News; namely, Maggie Haberman at the New York Times:
Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.
. . . .
Even as he sought to make clear that he does not have the power Mr. Trump seems to think he has, Mr. Pence also indicated to the president that he would keep studying the issue up until the final hours before the joint session of Congress begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the people briefed on their conversation.
One option being considered, according to a person close to Mr. Trump, was having Mr. Pence acknowledge the president’s claims about election fraud in some form during one or more of the Senate debates about the results from particular states before the certification. Mr. Pence will preside over those debates.
Then we have the exact opposite from Donald J. Trump:
This is the rare instance where we get to immediately find out who’s telling the truth: the Fake News or Donald Trump? When Pence delivers his horseshit speech about election fraud, but does nothing about it because he can’t, you think he is going to explain that he has no power to do anything? I sure do.
Well, Trumpers? It’s Fake News vs. Donald Trump, and the answer comes today. Who wants to put any money on it?
Nobody will take me up on it, because deep down, you know I’m right. You don’t want to admit Trump cost you guys the Senate, but he did. You don’t want to admit that he actually lost the election, but he did. You don’t want to admit that the New York Times is right and that Trump is lying about what Pence believes his powers to be, but deep down you know it’s true, and by the end of today the facts will have proved your gut-level suspicions to be right.
It’s not too late to reject Soviet-style disinformation. But it’s gonna take you time. A lot of time.