The Price of Propaganda

(Photo by Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket/ Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams suffered a decisive loss in court in her long-running attempt to cast doubt on her 2018 loss. Abrams, who lost to Brian Kemp by nearly 55,000 votes, never conceded, claiming racially motivated voter suppression. Abrams alleged all kinds of violations of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Nonetheless, U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones (an Obama appointee) ruled against her organization, Fair Fight Action, on all counts.

When reading this, my mind turned to comments made by The Dispatch’s own Nick Catoggio, in his farewell blog at Hot Air. Given the current direction of his side of the political divide, he was left with a choice between being dishonest or losing his audience, who wanted him to stop saying negative things about former President Donald Trump. “I preferred to be a traitor than a propagandist,” he said. The reason? “Propagandists lie to others, then lie to themselves to justify propagating the original lie. Propaganda rots the brain, then the soul,” he wrote.     

For years, Abrams and her supporters drove “voter suppression” as an existential threat to bedrock civil rights, even though by no reasonable definition of the term does it describe her loss in 2018. But, they may have thought to themselves, “African-Americans don’t vote in high enough numbers due to generations of sins against them, if a little fib helps get more of them registered, it’s fine.” And also, “ Trump was an existential threat to our country, and without this massive push claiming vote suppression, we may be able to register sufficient voters to push Democrats over the top in Georgia.”

Indeed, the Abrams propaganda machine was a predecessor and a precursor to a much larger effort by Trump and his supporters. Starting in 2016, powerful people had an incentive to spread an unusual amount of untruth, and did so, believing that it could be contained. “Sure,” they might say, “Trump is an arrogant hot-head with a history of shady business deals, who lacks relevant experience, and a moral constitution,” but given the stakes, we needed to try. And, they might say to themselves, “We just must do it this once. We can stop later.”

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Comments (108)
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  • Who here would wait 2 hours to cast a vote?

    I don’t think I have the patience.

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  • It seems like some commenters still beleive the voter supression election denial propaganda. If you do then I suggest you read David French's article from yesterday.

    And yes, French says Abrams election denial is not as dangerous as Trump’s, but her election denial makes her unfit for office.

    https://thedispatch.com/newsletter/frenchpress/stacey-abrams-challenges-the-pro-democracy-left/

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    1. Yep, David French is also stuck on Republican lies about voter fraud and he will be forever because he's bought into the lie 100%. Fact: there is no significant voter fraud in the USA in the last 60 years and the Republicans knew that and yet they passed these "voter security" laws anyhow based on this lie in order to give themselves a marginal advantage in elections.

      And sure, 17 paragraphs down in the article Mr. French does a quick disclaimer to say that Trump's lies are marginally worse, but the damage is done and he knows it: "the Democrats do it too" so you can't hold Republicans *politically* liable for their election denial.

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      1. Explain the following:

        "the Democrats do it too" so you can't hold Republicans *politically* liable for their election denial.

        Is this a summary of David French's opinion?

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        1. That is the net-effect of what Mr. French is saying.

          It all starts with the precursor to Trump's Big Lie that Mr. French doesn't even question: that Republican voter suppression laws are just innocent measures to shore up a system wracked with voter fraud.

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          1. VoterID = Voter Supression
            Lol

            You must be really worried to live in a country where 80% support voter id. My bad, I should have said voter suppression.

            https://news.gallup.com/poll/194741/four-five-americans-support-voter-laws-early-voting.aspx

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    2. Replying to MathewRobin - Thinking the same. Some demand to believe something even after it's been demonstrated that their argument is wrong. If anyone read French's piece yesterday it's very clear no voters were suppressed in Georgia and Abrams lost. Most of the commentary is 'But Trump!' ..

      If DeSantis is the nominee and the same Abrams was robbed! people are saying DeSantis is Trump 2.0 I hope they will have bookmarked this article and can go back to it. Make a voting decision based on who the 2 candidates are, not who you want them to be

      BTW: I'm conservative so you could consider me anti-Abrams but the fascination much of the left has w/ her escapes me. If she wins and gets into congress then so be it, but stop being shocked when she loses. She is not an impressive speaker and does not come across as a serious candidate to anyone who isn't already emotionally or tribally committed to her

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      1. Yep, David French repeated the same Republican lies about voter fraud that Republicans have been repeating for 10 years now. And then he wonders how Trump got away with it all...

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        1. French is a Republican?
          Sometimes you have to let go of the big, mean orange bogeyman

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          1. David French has *never* repudiated the GOP, as many other "never-Trump Republicans" have. Like TD's editorial generally, they are anti-Trump / pro-GOP (which basically means they support Trump whether they mean to or not).

            Sometimes you need to stop lying about Trump's continued dominance of the GOP.

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  • Ballot taxes, once considered Constitutional, are now widely recognized as targeted voter suppression. At one time, some men were able to justify these as fair to the courts. Doesn’t mean they were fair.

    Fear of violence will keep people from voting. But so will a requirement to wait in line for hours to cast your vote. I find it really disturbing that so many conservatives equate Abrams with Trump, particularly with our nations ugly history of voter suppression and the more recent ugly history of Trump’s coup attempt. It should not be missed that Trump’s court cases challenging the election were totally baseless - part and parcel of his cynical power grab.

    They are not remotely close to equivalent. Abrams was a serious case before the courts. Not a cynical sideshow brought to court by conmen like Sydney Powell.

    It is really awfully easy to say that something occurred 60 years ago was bonafide voter suppression. But please realize conservatives at that time did not see it that way or at least they fought against the reforms that were needed to move forward. And its that same major reform that came from that - the voting rights act - that was gutted along ideological lines by our supreme court just a few years before this controversy, leaving Kemp without federal oversight as he administered the election in which he controversially won after making controversial changes to voting registrations, and with obviously poor ballot access affecting primarily black districts.

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    1. It was not a serious case and it was appropriately laughed out of court by an Obama appointed judge.

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      1. It was not at all laughed out of court.

        Unlike Trump’s many frivolous cases that resulted in sanctions against his lawyers, this case had several claims that were sufficient reasonable to undergo an actual trial.

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  • AZ has a proposition on the ballot to approve Voter ID and now we’re all faced with the propaganda from both sides. The lie that our elections are corrupt vs the lie that a picture ID is voter suppression.

    Since I can put a large number on the folks who will squeal and attack government buildings if they can use lack of Voter ID as an excuse for why they lost the election and I can’t find a reliable non-trivial number on lower income voters, Democrat or Republican, who won’t vote because they can’t or won’t get an ID by 2024 I have to say Yes to a stupid question I never wanted asked to begin with.

    Did I buy into the propaganda? Nope. Will I vote like I did? Yup. Someone will call that a mandate.

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    1. The reason why Republicans want this measure is to give themselves an advantage in forthcoming elections. Everything else is a lie.

      You don't need your ID to walk into a supermarket or a restaurant and you don't need to pay ahead of time either. The reason for this is because they would marginally reduce their revenues if they did that, and it would not save them any money. Voter suppression is a game of inches and the Republicans know that.

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      1. On voter ID, I'm sure that's true.

        The argument is fundamentally dishonest but "objectively", once you strip away the Republican BS, not wildly unreasonable. Fact is you'd be hard put to generate a solid number or percentage on the number of voters, Republican and Democrat, who would be deterred from voting under Voter ID. I haven't seen any. Like the notion that lower turnout favors Republicans; it may be just a superstition rather than have any basis in actual election results.

        Given that, I don't see a reason not initiate Voter ID if it dismantles one more plank in the stolen election scaffolding come 2024. I'm sure some of them will try to come up with some other sinister fraud theory for why they lost, if they lose, the next two elections; but Voter fraud won't be one of them.

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        1. It might be a difficult exercise in voting behavioral analytics alright, but you know who hired a time of data crunchers to figure all of that out: The Heritage Foundation. Then they used their findings to write state-level laws to achieve their goal of marginally reducing the number of Democrat-leaning voters.

          It would be very hard to stop 10% or 20% of the voters of the other side, but 2% or 4% is very doable if you target the exact way to the other side votes.

          Voter ID is a pain in the ass--one more thing you need to deal with in order to vote (for mail-in you need to photocopy it, etc.). In a normal world, politicians get punished for making things a pain in the ass. Doubly so if it is done for **no good reason** . Triply so if the reason is *nefarious* as it is with Republicans.

          Every voter suppression law the Republicans pass based on either Trump's Big Lie or the Republicans previous "smaller lie" about voter fraud weakens our republic.

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          1. I have no doubt Republicans would love to reduce Democratic voter turnout. And I don't doubt that Republican number-crunchers believe that Voter ID might suppress the Democratic vote. I'm saying thier numbers won't be reliable and even if they are it ignores how many Republican votes are suppressed by it. If we take as a given that Voter ID is a burden on lower-income voters why would it be any less burdensome on Republican low-income voters than Democratic voters?

            There aren't any reliable or consistent peer-reviewed numbers that I've seen - and I've looked - that indicate it has the effect that Democrats and Republicans seem to think it might have. If you know of any send me a link.

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