The Fifty Six Percent — Truth, Lies & Politics
The latest Ipsos poll is out, with some good news, and of course, worrying news, because this would not be 2021 without some bad news lurking around the corner preparing to jump you.
Here’s the good stuff, to bolster your sagging faith in humanity: 75 percent of Americans believe that Joe Biden is the “true” president, while 55 percent think he is the “legitimate and accurate” president; 25 percent disagree with each. Well, not crazy about the 25%, so let’s break this all down and look at the ‘by party’ numbers. This is where the face-palming comes in:
“56% of Republicans believe the election was rigged or the result of illegal voting, and 53% think Donald Trump is the actual President, not Joe Biden. Only 30% of Republicans feel confident that absentee or mail-in ballots were accurately counted, compared to 86% of Democrats and 55% of independents. As a result, 87% of Republicans believe it is important that the government place new limits on voting to protect elections from fraud. Finally, 63% percent of Republicans think Donald Trump should run for President again in 2024, compared to only 8% of Democrats and 23% of independents.”
56% of Republicans think the election was stolen from Donald Trump, somehow, someway, 53% of them think Trump is actually still president, and 87% of Republicans want to limit the right of non-Republicans to vote. These are the people Democrats are supposed to ‘listen’ to and ‘empathize’ with. Really. They are still firmly embedded in November of 2020, to just before Fox News called Arizona for Biden, still sitting in front of the TV or hitting refresh on the Fox site to see the numbers. They are so far beyond rational political thought they’d have to get off the bus and walk back ten miles to find it.
That’s the definition of ‘delusional’.
There’s simply no way to reason with or ‘understand’ the MAGA voter when they sit down opposite you with this already in their heads. If this is their starting point, where could the conversation even begin? If months of no evidence of fraud hasn’t shaken lose this dog bite clamp on the leg of the election, you calmly explaining their faulty reasoning/logic isn’t going to do it. This won’t be solved over a burger and a handshake.
Maybe though, just maybe, they’re playing us, trying to own the ‘libs’ though the polling. They might not actually believe what they claim to believe. Maybe they’re just telling the pollsters something outrageous to invite controversy or prove a point about mean liberal polling, as they seem to think the House/Senate races were just fine. Expressing their anger at the loss by stating something they don’t truly believe but wish to be so. Maybe we’re all being played.
I seriously doubt it, but maybe…
Of course, if this were true, it causes a big problem as well. The far right at the moment is a swirling cesspool of grievance, anger, blame, conspiracy theories, and potential violence just looking for an excuse to explode. The ‘Big Lie’ over the election is fueling that time bomb. The Republican leaders, in pushing and supporting that Lie, are working to light the fuse in the belief that that is what their supporters want. They are rightly scared to death of their own base (after January 6th, I don’t blame them). What if their base doesn’t actually believe the ‘Big Lie’? We have the perfect feedback loop, the base feeding the Lie to the leaders, and the leaders working on feeding it right back to the base. With each cycle, the belief in the Lie grows stronger, more ridged, harder to break, or break away from.
The GOP is using the whole mess as an excuse to push voter suppression (they are the same people who disastrously put together a commission trying to find 3 million ‘illegal’ votes in the 2016 election), to try and make sure they can hold power without having to worry about elections. But in doing so they are also riling up a base desperate to be riled, desperate to be told that yes, they are right; people are out to get them, to do them harm, to destroy them over their religion, politics, way of life, skin color. Yes, they are the true minorities and they are the true persecuted. The more the Republicans push this lie for their own ends, the more dangerous the situation becomes.
In the end, whether the base believes the lie, or the leaders are cynically pushing the lie to gain power, it doesn’t really matter. The end will be the same, destruction of our democratic ideals.
An AEI poll this year found most Republicans agree “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” They’re primed, 56% think they have an illegitimate president in the White House and 53% think the former president is still in power, or should be. Will they sit by and do nothing?
56% would rather live their shared delusion, stuck in their 2020 infinity loop than come forward into the sunlight.
And that’s where we are.