It’s easy to blow off a warning when it comes too early.
We’ve learned so much about disinformation since the 2016 election, not just how it works, but that its chief goal is to discourage us from voting by shaking our belief in democracy.
We’ve taken quizzes to learn how to spot online trolls, we’ve dissected the tactics used in the last election so we can be on the lookout for similar bogus activities, and seen countless well-researched articles on how to protect ourselves against disinformation.
But now that the election is around the corner, we have a president who is constantly lashing out, no doubt because he sees that he’s behind in the polls, and has been saying one incendiary thing after another, attacking the integrity of our elections. And even though both the media and we should be well inoculated against it, here we are, weeks before the election worrying about the Trump stealing the election and wondering if we’ll have a peaceful transfer of power.
The Atlantic does some stellar reporting, but in my opinion, their article The Election That Could Break America, is nothing short of fear-mongering. Scary news and bad news travels fast, and not only did their article get shared everywhere last week, it lit a match under the media who then responded with a deluge of articles that just poured fuel on the fire.
And what was the result? Everyone took their eye off the ball and coughed up worry and panic all over everyone else. So, instead of focusing on winning the election, promoting candidates and get out the vote activities, people spent their time anxiously regurgitating the worrisome articles and “takes.” This gets us nowhere.
As only one example, the idea was floated by Trump’s campaign that they were planning to cry fraud in states where the election was close and ask the GOP-held state legislatures in those states to ignore the popular vote and instead elect electors to the Electoral College who were loyal to the president. Alarming, yes. But within 24 hours, confirmation from a constitutional scholar came that, taking Pennsylvania as an example, this wouldn’t work because the legislature can’t appoint its own electors without amending the state’s electoral code, which the Democratic governor would of course veto. This is also true in the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
Now, I do think that our democracy is in grave danger. But we each have to play our part. I am not a constitutional lawyer so trying to puzzle how I can avert a constitutional crisis should Trump create one is not a good use of my time, especially 36 days before the election. Leave those questions to the lawyers. However, I can get out the vote and recruit more volunteers to help phone, text, and write to other voters — trying to create a landslide election result is a good use of my time.
I recommend not giving Trump’s desperate attempts to claim a “rigged election” or not agreeing to a peaceful transfer of power any air. See them for what they are: 1) Trump is terrified of losing and 2) he wants to frame any loss as not his fault. The more we talk about these “what if” scenarios, the more the populace becomes used to these ideas. This is not something we can normalize. This close to the election, we can’t afford to have voters lose faith that the results of the election won’t matter. Trust me, every vote will matter.
Let’s not give Trump or his allies any reason to doubt the election result. We don’t just want to win, we want to win big, in every single swing state. Make it abundantly clear that he lost and fighting expensive legal fights to suppress votes isn’t worth it because he lost by so many votes. That is a result you and I can work towards, and we can do it right now.
Our democracy will survive if enough voters fight for it. Join me in being one of those voters. Let’s go get this done!
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