My thoughts on accusations of voter fraud and riots in DC

I posted the following on Facebook in response to accusations of voter fraud and Trump supporters storming the US Capital building. I am re-posting it below as others may find it relevant.

Some thoughts on…all of this:

It is frightening the degree to which many conspiracy theories have become mainstream among the GOP electorate. While such thinking was (mostly) previously confined to fringe, online right-wing message boards, Trump and his enablers have helped normalize these ideas by broadcasting them to their massive followings. This is made much worse by the decentralization of our media; it is so easy to consume news in a hyper-partisan vacuum, where Trump’s “victory” is “confirmed” on a daily basis by websites such as “The Epoch Times.”

Every time an inconvenient truth is presented, we can see these conspiracy theories evolve in real time: they lost because the “election was rigged” –> courts, including Trump appointees, won’t rule fairly because “they are scared to act” –> the reason the media and GOP officials attest to the security of the election is because “they are in on it” –> the reason there is violence in DC is because “all these middle-aged white Trump supporters are ACTUALLY antifa in disguise.” These claims are asserted baselessly, shamelessly, and without evidence – all at the expense of our democracy.

While Trump et al. is far more morally culpable than a lay person untrained in media literacy, whose confirmation bias is fed by the FB algorithm and a like-minded social circle, I do think there is tremendous – and dangerous – irresponsibility on the part of many people I see sharing content about “widespread election fraud” or the election being “stolen.”

Many are acting completely surprised by the right-wing *riots* today, but in truth they are completely predictable. If large groups of people really, truly, believe that the election was STOLEN, then OF COURSE a radical subset of them will act out. If you are broadcasting these sentiments to your audience on social media, then you are feeding into this.

If you see a claim about the election being stolen, then please, type the headline into Google along with “fact check” and see the countless websites and state-level GOP officials attesting to the security of the election. If you see “breaking news” that has yet to be fact checked, DO NOT SHARE IT RIGHT AWAY. Wait 48-72 hours and see if the claims are verified.

I have seen people share posts such as “Trump always stood behind us, so I will stand behind his efforts to contest the election.” Even if you voted for Trump and support his policies, this is not good reason to sacrifice a sound epistemology and support what is only the latest in a series of instances in which he presents baseless accusations of voter fraud when he considers it politically expedient. After Trump lost the Iowa caucuses in 2016, he lied and said the election was rigged. When he won the 2016 election and his narcissism could not come to terms with the fact that he received fewer votes, he lied and said that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted. The night of the 2020 election when the results from mail-in ballots were beginning to trickle in, he declared victory and that the election was being “stolen” before there was even time to assess if there was fraud. Broadcasting these ideas has consequences, and people need to take responsibility for what they share on social media.

:::loudly exhales::: alright, this saves me a lot of time commenting on others’ posts. Time to go make some waffles.

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