american capitol insurrection politics donald trump election
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american capitol insurrection politics donald trump election
Pro-Trump insurrectionists clash with U.S. Capitol police in Washington, D.C., before a full-scale assault on the building that killed five people on Jan. 6. (Stephen Voss, POLITICO)

As crazed American insurrectionists assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and ruthlessly attacked fellow countrymen at Donald Trump’s behest, killing five, they apparently honestly thought they were trying to undo the fraudulent election of Joe Biden as the new president of the United States.

Only they were provably, irrefutably, tragically mistaken. And it was standard American Christian indoctrination from the cradle that had cultivated their minds to easily accept made-up fancy as fact as adults. You saw the incongruous “Jesus Saves” and “God Wins” flags at the rally.

The Nov. 3, 2020, election was not only “fair and square,” as serially re-proven by multiple recounts in various states that compared digital vs. paper ballot results and by vetting of the parse questionable, even sometimes fraudulent, votes common with all elections. The recent election cycle was, in fact, “the most secure in American history,” according to a joint statement by the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector coordinating executive committees.

Even Fox News reported that fact, not that the Capitol malcontents seemed to have read the ringing, historically supreme endorsement of the vote that handily defeated Trump and endorsed Biden and his running mate, now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

On top of this, every single state in the union, after methodically and precisely reviewing its 2020 election tally ended up certifying it as fair and accurate. The president and his allies filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts claiming fraud and malfeasance in the election. All but one were thrown out, including a refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to even consider the one related suit that reached its rarified height. Even before Trump launched his baseless and doomed orgy of legal objections to the vote, the president’s own departments of Justice and Homeland Security assured him that no serious fraud had occurred in the election.

So, where did these murderous, un-American malcontents get this fraudulent idea that the election was “stolen”?

Indeed, as he has before and during his 2016 election win, Trump before and during this latest vote also constantly and falsely reminded voters that if he lost the election the reason would be it was “rigged.”

It’s a feature, not a bug of Trump’s political machinations. As USA Today reported recently, the president has since he took office used the term “rigged” 157 times in relation to American elections, 75 of them tweeted since May specifically about the then-upcoming 2020 presidential vote.

Except it a demonstrable lie.

It’s probably safe to say that Trump aficionados believe truth is what their dear leader says it is, even in the face of overwhelming objective, provable evidence to the contrary.

Why else ignore all that material evidence — which, honestly, simply can’t be rationally ignored — to justify murdering innocents at the Capitol and trashing American democracy?

So, in my view, the sacking of the Capitol is only a symptom of an insidious, aggressively metastatic cancer in American society: a massive inability to distinguish hard fact from fancy.

The hard fact is the 2020 election was not only “fair and square” but also “the most secure in American history.” That bureaucrats in Trump’s own government somehow fraudulently concluded this make zero sense, especially when they likely understood it would make their boss (the president) at the very least, cross.

But, of course, there’s always the “deep state” that anti-truthers with an agenda like to toss into their arguments. Except there is less than zero evidence that such an entity actually exists except in the minds of people who have congenital trouble dealing with reality that conflicts with their biases.

This is a nonreligious blog, so I see a disconcerting relevance here to religious belief and believers. Real-world facts offered to counter someone’s “deeply held” religious beliefs are received with the same kind of knee-jerk rejection by Trumpers as, say, evidence that Donald Trump was really, truly, actually defeated in the 2020 election, and that the “fraud” he keeps talking about he just made up to keep his gullible followers riled and agitating for his entertainment and fraudulent political purposes.

Tell us it isn’t so, Don.

To be sure, the only untoward aspect of this election was the president’s and his minions’ attempted corruption of it. Everyone else was just holding a good-faith election and following time-honored rules. Yes, states reasonably allowed a lot more early voting and mail-in ballots to protect citizens from Covid-19 during in-person voting if they chose (although they could also vote in person). This did not inherently benefit one party or another, but because Trump chose before the vote to demonize mail-in votes as vulnerable to fraud (and his supporters heard him), a disproportionate number of Republicans chose to vote in person, while Democrats wildly embraced the other method.

As it turned out, mail-in votes virtually killed Trump in this election in a kind of delayed reaction assault, as valid mail-in vote counts against his incumbency streamed in for days after the in-person tallies.

If he were honest, he would not only admit he shot himself in the foot in railing against mail-in ballots — and greatly increased the chance he would lose.

As he did.

Which brings us to the seditious assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as the president and the shock troops he incited that day tried to stop a congressional pro-forma acceptance of already certified Electoral College votes that acknowledged Joe Biden as the fairly elected new president of the United States.

I fear this will not be the last such spasm of political violence in the near term. Seventy-four million Americans voted for Donald Trump and his lies about election fraud on Nov. 6, and thousands of them descended on the citadel of democracy to do grievous harm on Jan. 6.

All of them were carrying dangerously false ideas in their heads — a deficit they seemed wholly incapable of comprehending.

The challenge in America going forward is not mitigating violence from far-right, white supremacist, Christian nationalist thugs who can’t discern truth from obvious fiction. They are adults and, thus, mostly already too far gone for rehabilitation.

But we need not only teach the children well, but far, far better, to sift fact from fiction and be deeply wary of how their own strong emotions and biases always lie in wait to corrupt objective understandings of reality. Before they are subjected to amoral political charlatans like Trump in the future.

Unfortunately, most American children are still indoctrinated from the cradle in superstitious belief systems undergirded by provable lies, primarily Christianity. I believe this also primes them to be gullible to all manner of unsubstantiated nonreligious nonsense, and to trust where they should be wary.

Trump is now impeached. Let the Senate next convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors and also prohibit him from ever holding public office again and using it as an ego-gratifying platform to dangerously deceive our citizens.

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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...