The title of this post could be taken as referring to the entire Trump presidency, from the infamous day in the summer of 2015 when he slithered down the escalator to the January day, five and a half years later, when he incited his followers to threaten the life of his own vice president. But in this instance I am referring simply to the fraud in the news these days, namely Trump’s malicious and ongoing attempt to use unsupported accusations of widespread electoral fraud to trick state legislators and members of the U.S. congress into taking actions to undo “the steal,” without having been provided any tangible evidence of this alleged crime.
Though it seems that the current reporting on the latest text messages, specifically those involving Senator Mike Lee, is attempting to frame Lee as being complicit in the Trump cadre’s fraudulent and despotic efforts, what the texts actually reveal, when read in sequence as evidence of an evolving position, is that Lee’s mind was shifting, gradually but decisively, from being caught up in the true believer tribal chant of “Stop the Steal,” to expressing frustration with the lack of verifiable evidence to support the White House’s claims (i.e., to prove the claims true), to being completely disabused of the spectacle which his fellow evolving skeptic, Congressman Chip Roy, finally labelled, bluntly and accurately, as “a s***show” — again, a phrase that could properly be applied as well to the entire Trump presidential fiasco. In other words, what the Lee and Roy text messages show is that some of the more honorable and self-respecting Republicans who had tried to align themselves with Trump as much as possible during his term in office were now realizing, in the two months after the 2020 election, that they had been had, and that the Trump team was simply trying to do what all modern tyrants are wont to do — witness Trump’s hero and closest international ally, Putin — namely accuse the other side of exactly the crimes they themselves were committing.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud. None has been produced, in spite of endless vague and ominous promises from so many Trump lawyers and sycophants, and in spite of various “independent investigations” by Trump-friendly organizations. No evidence has been produced because, quite obviously, none has been found. The problem is that in a mind that has sold itself completely to a fantasy world led by a cult figure, the glaring fact that no evidence of electoral fraud has been found is itself the most damning evidence of all that the fraud was brilliantly executed. And sadly, horrifyingly, there are, by very conservative estimate, at least fifty million Americans who have drawn that very conclusion. These millions are not “in on the fraud,” just as Lee and Roy were not. They are merely individuals — or, more properly, former individuals — who have refused to face up to the shameful truth that they have aligned themselves with a criminal enterprise run by a two-bit showman. They would rather sacrifice every last shred of their rational faculties than accept the uncomfortable moment of embarrassment, admit the obvious, and reclaim their dignity. In their refusal, of course, it is not merely their own lives that they are sacrificing. Their country needs a large force for revitalization, and needs it right now. But they are too busy with their distorted effort to salvage their own egos to give two thoughts to the implications, for the future of their country, of their permanent drift into nonsense conspiracy land.