From the moment it became clear that he had won the election without winning the popular vote – he got spanked by Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes – President Donald Trump has struggled to deal with this dichotomy.
First he tried minimizing it. saying he would have campaigned differently had he really wanted to win the popular vote. A majority of his supporters took another route, with a Qualtrics poll revealing that 52% of them believed he DID win the popular vote.
lie explanation Trump ultimately settled on, however, was fraud. Massive fraud apparently. First he tweeted this on November 27th, just weeks after the election:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Two months later, after he’d taken the oath of office, he doubled down on this
lie claim when he told congressional leaders in a private meeting that somewhere between 3 million and 5 million of Hillary’s votes were cast by ineligible voters – meaning non-citizens, dead people, even dogs, perhaps.
When news of this comment leaked, reporters pressured the White House for clarification. Deep down the rabbit hole by now, the President decided too keep going, tweeting a day later:
I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Huh? If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The media has been trying to make sense of these wild, unsubstantiated accusations for months, but to no avail. Does he have evidence no one else has? Is it just his ego? Is he lying just for the fund of it?
State Secretaries of State are the top election officials under election law, and it’s they who are accountable for election fraud in their respective states. Not a single one has corroborated the President’s claims, and those who have spoken-out on the issue dismiss any claims of voter fraud outright. Even his own attorneys concede that no evidence of voter fraud exists.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder has a theory, however, and it has nothing to do with Trump’s ego, as hard as that may be to believe. According to Holder, lying about voter fraud is a very calculated move for a very specific reason.
Speaking at the National Action Network conference in New York City today, he said:
“The vote fraud mantra is said so often — it’s almost said robotically — that some people have unthinkingly begun to believe that the issue is real. And with recent claims by Mr. Trump of ‘rigged elections’ based on fraud, again without any proof, save the bluster of the candidate, this mistaken belief in voter fraud becomes almost hardwired. A predicate has been laid for further voter suppression efforts.”
In other words, the more people believe that voter fraud is a thing, the more open they will be to controversial measures that restrict the right to vote and suppress voter turn out – especially in Republican controlled states.
Occupy Democrats reported recently on a voter I.D. law in Texas that was struck down because the court found it was designed specifically to suppress the minority vote. At last summer’s Republican National Convention, the GOP made pursuing strict voter ID laws an official plank of the party’s platform. Thirty-three states currently have some form of voter ID law.
Holder aggressively took-on states with the most egregious voter ID laws while he served as Obama’s Attorney General. His Justice Department vigorously supported the plaintiffs in Texas case. His reminder today should be a wake-up call to everyone to stay vigilant in the face of lies and demand evidence to support opinions.Otherwise, Nazi propaganda minster Joseph Goebbles’ maxim could come true:
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“People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.