If they weren’t such a surly lot, it would be easy to feel sorry for the red-hatted MAGA faithful wandering the countryside to attend the Great Pretender’s rallies.
In the parlance of professional wrestling, from which Donald Trump borrowed most of his schtick, they’re called “marks,” people who believe that the “kayfabe” — or scripted storyline — is real.
It’s an American proverb attributed to circus promoter P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Pigeons, patsies, dupes. Whatever you call them, God must love them because he made so many.
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And if you’re a believer in “The Great Steal,” the preposterous allegation that the Democrats — maybe the most disorganized political party in American history — not only conspired to cheat Trump out of the 2020 presidential election, but kept it a secret, then I’m awfully sorry, but you’re a damn fool.
“Trump Chumps,” I call them.
I am moved to these impolite observations by a terrific profile in The Atlantic of previously obscure Michigan state Sen. Ed McBroom, a conservative Republican dairy farmer from the state’s remote Upper Peninsula. As head of the senate’s Oversight Committee, McBroom led an exhaustive, eight-month investigation of alleged fraud in Michigan’s presidential election.
The commission’s unanimous 56-page report, writes The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta, “hit Lansing like a meteor: It was all a bunch of nonsense.”
“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the [2020 election] results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” McBroom wrote. Not only did investigators find no fraud, but they uncovered no evidence of any effort to cheat.
Angered and appalled by efforts to advance the Trumpist hoax, McBroom added: “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.” He even suggested that such persons be prosecuted.
“Fraud is fraud,” McBroom told Alberta. “If they lied to people to make money off people, that’s a crime.”
Needless to say, such a standard would cause a revolution in American life, and Trump’s henchmen wouldn’t be its only victims.
Available online, despite its deadpan style, the McBroom report often makes for funny reading. “In Detroit,” Trump tweeted, “there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!”
Um, no. In reality, Detroit reported “250,138 votes = Under 50% of registered voters in the city and only 37% of the total population.”
Turnout was relatively light, and Trump did marginally better than expected there. But, of course, Detroit is predominantly Black, so Trump Chumps have swallowed the lie whole.
Also, did thousands of Michiganders vote from the graveyard? The committee found exactly two: one a fellow who mistakenly cast his identically named dead father’s absentee ballot, and a woman who voted but expired before Election Day. Local officials disqualified about 3,500 ballots for the same reason, but missed that one.
Then there’s the My Pillow Guy, the mustachioed TV huckster who promotes videos alleging massive online sabotage perpetrated by the usual suspects via Dominion voting machines. Under oath, Dominion’s CEO “denied multiple rumors ... and provided references to verify his testimony that the company was not involved in elections in Venezuela and had no connection to Hugo Chavez, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, or George Soros.”
Dominion has no servers in Spain, Germany or Italy. Besides, its voting machines have no modems and literally cannot be connected to the internet. All ballots are counted locally and remain “available for re-tabulation or recount at any time. Where this was done, no evidence of hacking or attack was ever shown.”
“A widely circulated picture in media and online reports allegedly showed ballots secretly being delivered late at night,” the report notes dryly, “but in reality, it was a photo of a WXYZ-TV photographer hauling his equipment.”
And so on. It’s all nonsense, every Fox News and OAN-reported, Facebook-amplified bit of it. “In concert with an unruly apparatus of right-wing personalities and causes,” Albert writes, Trump “systematically tricked large portions of the American public into believing something that simply is not true.”
Trump lost Michigan and its 16 electoral votes by more than 150,000 ballots. It wasn’t actually very close.
Is it even necessary to say that the Great Pretender has made Ed McBroom into MAGA Enemy No. 1, denouncing him as a sellout, giving out his phone number at rallies and urging Trump Chumps to ruin him politically?
On cue, the 4 a.m. death threats have come rolling in.
One sure thing: Trump will never badmouth McBroom to his face. He’s a hard-handed cattleman, not a flabby indoorsman. He’s more disappointed than angry with neighbors who have chosen to believe some stranger on the internet instead of somebody whose personal integrity they know.
“These are good people, and they’re being lied to, and they’re believing the lies,” he told The Atlantic. “And it’s really dangerous.”
Gene Lyons is a columnist with the Arkansas Times.
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