Here an election denier, there an election denier, everywhere an election denier. It does not scan well, but that’s the way it is. The 2020 election was stolen or unconstitutional, so the claims go. We hear about suitcases in Georgia, ballot dumps in Detroit, the Pennsylvania governor illegally changing the election rules, forbidden ballot harvesting everywhere. Time and again, these cries have been shown to be nonsense, but they keep getting repeated. (Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently issued an order changing some election rules in counties hit by hurricane Ian, an understandable action but similar to the one taken by the Pennsylvania governor in response to the pandemic and difficulties with mail deliveries. I have yet to see conservatives railing that DeSantis’s order is unconstitutional and will make the upcoming Florida election illegal.)
If election deniers are asked why they believe what they say they do, many repeat the refuted claims. As Kevin Young says in Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News: “Repeating a lie in two different places counts as verification.”
However, the important question to ask election deniers is not why they assert fraud in 2020, but instead to ask them what information would convince them that their belief is false or at least make them hesitant about their assertions. And, as Arizona indicates, there is no such information that would convince them. There were several Arizona election audits. One that chose random ballots confirmed the official outcome. Another audit of all the ballots again confirmed the official outcome. But these did not change minds. They were done by government officials, and so they must have been part of some giant conspiracy. Therefore, a partisan audit of the most Democratic part of the state was done. This canvass, instead of finding that Trump had the election stolen from him, found that Biden got a few more votes than were officially recorded. You might think that would have ended the claims of Arizona election deniers, but you would have been thinking rationally with common sense. Instead, the Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, and others running for various Arizona offices, continue as election deniers. I sometimes wonder if election deniers would change their minds even if Jesus descended to state that Biden got the most votes, but I doubt it. (Author Eddy Harris once described a conversation with a white woman in Mississippi whose mother belonged to a whites-only church in the 1960s. The older woman was asked whether Jesus would have allowed African Americans to worship in his church. “Of course he would have,” she said, “but Jesus would have been wrong.”) The head-in-the-sand stance of election deniers is not just simple ignorance. As Eric Hoffer said, “Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.” (I don’t think many election deniers are heavily invested in African proverbs, but a Nigerian one said, “Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.”)
Some deniers do try to shift the topic and claim that their concern is that voters don’t have confidence in election outcomes, and it is important for the country to have faith in the balloting. This “concern,” of course, places us in a land of circular reasoning. Present and former government officials, media hotshots, and other notable people promote the lie of a stolen election and then act aghast that people who listen to them distrust our election system. (I have wondered how the MyPillow guy became an important person when he seems by looks and reasoning as if he should only be a minor joke in a Pixar feature. French Proverb: “Ignorance and incuriosity are two very soft pillows.”)
So how do we restore faith in our elections? Of course, the right answer is for all those who have created the problem to admit that the 2020 election was secure, but they have not found that path to such righteousness. Instead, their answer for people to feel better about elections is to make it harder for some people to vote. This, at least, makes a bit of sense. You might believe that the fewer who can vote, the less chance of fraud. If we can rig it so that I am the only voter, I assure all that there will be absolutely no fraud in the elections. Democracy might suffer, but who cares?
When there is no information that will change your mind, you live ignorantly. A philosopher said: “The recipe for perpetual ignorance is to be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.” Ignorance has always been an unfortunate part of America. If you can’t cite examples, you haven’t been paying attention. Maybe America’s greatness has depended on ignorance, or at least that is what election deniers seem to believe. Their unspoken slogan really should be Make America Ignorant (Once) Again. MAIA. That could have a nice ring to it and could become a popular name for this generation of Arizona baby girls, and surely so named, their parents should be completely confident that their children will absolutely, positively never be able to be groomed for anything on the LGBTQ spectrum. On the other hand, I counsel the election-denying parents from naming their sons MAGA, as tempting as that must be, unless they want their children to avoid the military and affront God by breaking that commandment on adultery.