Ever since Donald Trump’s legal counsel stood next to an adult shop and asked America to supply the conspiracy theories, it’s been clear that no-one in the White House knows what the plan is.
As the US election staggered to its drawn-out conclusion (or did it?) Donald Trump has been dealing with the end of his presidency with all the grace and dignity that has distinguished his business and political careers. In other words, he’s making baseless allegations and threatening to sue. Say what you will about the man, he’s impressively consistent.
As Trump’s second term stubbornly failed to appear through the arcane and primitive method of “winning the most votes” or, as in 2016 “winning the majority of electoral college votes”, the Republican Party activated phase three, precisely as the president had made clear over the previous few weeks: announcing plans to get the legitimacy of the election decided by the Supreme Court, which is currently stacked with inexperienced right-leaning judges appointed by Trump and which everyone assumes will rule as per their patron’s wishes.
Specifically, the president has been calling for a halt to vote-counting in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania and a recount of the votes in Wisconsin. Since none of those states have finished counting their ballots yet, demanding a pre-emptive recount seems…let’s go with “premature”.
But the biggest sign that Trump’s ‘I Wuz Robbed’ strategy isn’t going to stop eviction from the White House is that his narrative of a massive, organised Leftist conspiracy isn’t getting traction in usually supportive media. Even Fox News has seen the writing on the wall and would sooner not throw out any more of what remains of their credibility. Thus social media is doing all the heavy lifting.
And look, it might seem weird to use a Facebook conspiracy theory as the basis of winnowing out Trump’s strategy but it’s literally the most complete one that’s been floated. So far all of the attempts to get state courts to either stop or accelerate the vote counting, or throw out legal ballots postmarked before the November 3 election but received afterwards, have either failed or been rejected out of hand, which is why Rudy Giuliani was reduced to asking people to send in their voter fraud theories during a press conference at the Philadelphia Four Seasons. Sorry, at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
But going back to that post: the claims fall into three main categories: honest misunderstandings, deliberate misrepresentations, and absolutely baseless horseshit.
For example claims like the “Wisconsin suddenly discovers votes” one could be ignorance of how long it takes for voting to play out and how pre-poll and in-person voters vote differently.
There are always large jumps if votes are counted from a major city, which tends to be Democrat, or from rural booths where voters are typically more conservative. So getting to the ballots from a major city would indeed see a jump in Biden votes, because cities are things which exist and which voters live in.
Then again, it’s hard to argue that it’s being made in good faith since, for example, there was a surge of Republican votes in the Arizona count as polling places in safe Trump districts were counted – and which mysteriously didn’t raise the ire of “VOTER FRAUD!” zealots.
Then there are the misrepresentations, like claiming there are more votes in Wisconsin than there are voters. There are not – although that claim made in the post would become true if you added “there are more votes in Wisconsin THIS ELECTION than there were voters IN WISCONSIN DURING THE 2018 MIDTERMS”, although that claim is not quite as explosive. Although it does suggest that Wisconsin has really become the hip place for registered voters to be! Maybe it’s got a really banging downtown voting scene?
And then there are the lies, like that votes are just appearing in polling stations as though Democrat operatives blew clouds of vote-spores through the keyhole of each polling station and waited for them to germinate into a Blue Wave.
Unfortunately in these Q-Anon-embracing Flat Earth times saying “what, so Democrats are shipping in ballots in the dead of night, to high-security buildings with Republican and Democrat observers watching the count along with international observers with no dog in this particular fight, in numbers massive enough to change the election but sneakily enough that no-one can provide any evidence?” and a certain percentage of the population will go “exactly! You see how insidious it is!” and then probably babble something incomprehensible about harvesting adrenochrome or something.
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And that’s fun, but it’s not going to get the case before the Supreme Court. As venerable US journalist Jim Acosta pointed out on Twitter, “One problem for Trump campaign…it’s seeking to halt counting in some areas and encouraging counting in others, an inconsistency that would be noted by just about any judge hearing these cases…if they get to court.”
One problem for Trump campaign… it’s seeking to halt counting in some areas and encouraging counting in others, an inconsistency that would be noted by just about any judge hearing these cases… if they get to court.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 4, 2020
But it’s not even that. It’s that the Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over state electoral laws. It’s similar to the High Court in Australia: it decides what cases it will hear, and determines that on the basis of their federal importance.
So unless Trump can come up with an nationwide argument as to why states should stop and simultaneous speed up their counting and why this constitutes a federal case worthy of their attention, it’s hard to see how it’d get before his sympathetic bench in the first place.
That said, the “Democrats stole the election” seems less like a strategy to win the White House and more a way to shake down rubes for more money and to sow distrust and discord for a Biden administration to deal with.
And if that’s the goal, the GOP seem on track for a thumping victory.