FAKE NEWS, FAKE ELECTIONS

For the handful of you who have been reading since like 2003 I hope you will join me in the thrill of seeing "Gin and Tacos" in the Washington Post. The opinion editor was kind enough to provide me with space to make a very important point based on one of the more useful and relevant findings in political science in recent years: conservative, anti-government parties benefit tremendously from undermining political trust and efficacy among the public. When people internalize the message that government is inept, incompetent, and unable to touch anything without ruining it, the party with the message, "Government sucks and should be torn down" inevitably benefits.

That has been the basis of conservative politics in the U.S. since the late 1970s. But now Trump is extending it to the electoral process – one of the few remaining aspects of our system that people had some modicum of faith in. By undermining confidence in election results he is setting up a future in which any and every election outcome can be cast as illegitimate because "everybody knows" that there's massive fraud and the votes are Fake anyway.

It's a dismal future. This is the dynamic in banana republics where the elections really are fake. And we see what it takes for power to change hands in that environment.

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66 Responses to “FAKE NEWS, FAKE ELECTIONS”

  1. E* Says:

    I new coming here would brighten my day!

  2. E* Says:

    *knew

    Coffee first, then comments.

  3. J. Dryden Says:

    Jesus Christ, dude, what the fuck opened up the floodgates on your getting paid publishing gigs left and right all of a sudden? Don't get me wrong; I'm fucking thrilled and I think I speak for everyone else who hangs around the G&T watercooler, but the speed with which this is happening makes me worried that you've got a monkey's paw in your dresser drawer that's one wish down, or something.

    Well, regardless of how it's happening, it's incredibly well-deserved. Those of us who have enjoyed (fuck, LOVED) your work for (checks calendar) holy fuck, over a DECADE, have a bit more of a reason to think of the world as an occasionally just place if people with money have finally begun to give it to you for your thinking/writing.

    Seriously: Well fucking done, you.

    Oh, and, yeah, Trump is destroying all that is good and decent, and Everything is Terrible All the Time. (I know this, because I own a shirt that says so. FYI, I get a lot of sad nods at the gym when I'm wearing it.)

  4. geoff Says:

    JFC ED YR ON FIRE!!

    (Sincere congratulations!)

  5. Mostly lurking Says:

    Having probably read every single post on G&T (I went through the back catalogue maybe 7 years ago) and having had the original G&T manifesto from Livejournal over my desk for years, I say: Well done, well-deserved. And thank you.

  6. Noskilz Says:

    Congratulations!

  7. Major Kong Says:

    Well done sir.

  8. Typing Gloves Says:

    Longtime reader, occasional shirt-buyer, and first-time commenter dropping in to offer my congratulations on the recent string of very well-written and thoughtful pieces. Glad to see you getting the recognition you deserve, Ed!

  9. ronzie Says:

    I think the republicans started raising doubts about the electoral process a lot earlier than the late 70s. I'm in my late 50s and, based on conversations I overheard growing up, almost all of the people I knew from my parents' and grandparents' age groups took it as a given that democrats "tinkered" with election results and had been doing so since they were kids, if not longer. They laughed about dead people and winos voting democratic and the mob fixing the 1960 election for Kennedy, and they all considered themselves democrats by blood and wouldn't vote to piss on a republican if he was on fire and begging for it. Trump and the republicans just convinced people who think like them that they were now the party that would lie and steal FOR them instead of TO them. What they're going to do when they realize they've been scammed is anybody's guess.

  10. Dave Says:

    I haven't been reading since the beginning, but I know Cheney was in power when I picked this blog up. To see your real name and your real writing in places like Rolling Stone is an absolute joy for me. Now you need to start writing "Telling old racists what they want to hear" pieces so we can get you on the Fox & Friends couch. Sound good?

  11. RosiesDad Says:

    Hearty congrats Ed. It won't be long before we see you playing the pundit on MSNBC.

  12. RICK WAYNE Says:

    J Dryden +1. And the WaPo op-ed was particularly well-written IMHO. I feel like I ought to be whispering "Thou art mortal" or something but you GO, you star you!

  13. democommie Says:

    "the party with the message, "Government sucks and should be torn down" inevitably benefits."

    A tweet to the GOP from beyond this mortal coil.

    Richtig ist immer richtig, ich stimme zu. Ein Volk, ein Tee-Party, ein Trumpligulamygdala. Recht immer recht, genau. Dein guter Freund.–AH

  14. Nathan Says:

    I started reading G&T in 2008 and have read every post (and comment!) since.
    Well done sir, congrats! Well deserved.

  15. Talisker Says:

    Congratulations, Ed. You deserve it.

  16. disgusted Says:

    I hope that you will continue to supply thought provoking materials on this blog and that you will continue to encourage those who follow you to protest this piece of crap presidency. REach as many people as you can.

  17. Katydid Says:

    Ed, CONGRATS! Well deserved, and well done!

  18. Ten Bears Says:

    Good point.

  19. Coises Says:

    There is one thing I don’t understand: Why do people keep saying conservatives/Republicans don’t believe in government?

    They seem happy to have government fight wars, deploy police, build prisons, spy on communications, tell people what they must not put into their bodies and tell women what they must not take out of theirs.

    The only time I’ve ever seen Republicans opposed to government is when it proposes to do something to help ordinary people instead of obstructing, punishing, incarcerating or killing them.

  20. Heywood J. Says:

    Nicely done, Ed. We can say we knew you when.

  21. Mo Says:

    We really could use a re-issue of the EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE… shirt.

    Please.

  22. Lit3Bolt Says:

    Congrats on hitting the big time, Ed.

    Now you can start getting death threats EVERY day, instead of just at the end of the semester.

  23. geoff Says:

    I have actually been fairly skeptical of voting since the unpleasantness in FL in 2000. Not to mention touchscreen and other forms of electronic voting, which I don't think I'm SUPER paranoid to be suspicious of, as they run proprietary software and are their results are in many ways not verifiable. As my commie colleagues over at Naked Capitalism say, paper ballots, counted in public, are the only truly verifiable method of voting. (Works in the UK!)

    Also, I think you can draw a fairly straight line from Citizens United and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 to the election of you know who, not to mention the radical right wing turn state legislatures have taken over the last eight years or so.

  24. Older Says:

    Sometimes the newest form of a thing is not the best form. Case in point, we on the left coast are in the process of demonstrating definitively that paper ballots, counted by hand, are probably the best technique ever invented for getting a fair and complete vote.

  25. other bill Says:

    Right on, and keep going, man! Well deserved.

  26. Jim Says:

    Voting fraud in the Fl elections is a myth. George Bush won fair and square. As a matter of fact, those same voting machines were used in the following Iraq elections, and George won that election also

  27. diana Says:

    Coises, I hear ya. I had this debate once with a Republican: aren't sex issues (no abortion, no gays) big government? And he couldn't explain it, could only repeat talking points. Better projection than an IMAX, these people.

    Meanwhile, to Ed: congrats!!!!

  28. JustRuss Says:

    Nice to see your star rising Ed. Well deserved, and given the way things have been going lately, refreshing.

  29. SiubhanDuinne Says:

    Big congratulations, Ed! This is great, and I'm vicariously proud to follow you on G&T.

  30. wetcasements Says:

    Congrats, Ed. I'll read you anywhere.

  31. April Says:

    J Dryden +2! Congrats!

  32. carrstone Says:

    Fame at last; nearly fifteen years at the coalface dispensing progressive platitudes and hosting mutual back-patting has had its reward. But, before you get too swollen-headed, it's the Washington Post!

    I've been enjoying your column for years and have come to realize something endemic – sadly, progressives have only one argument to make. It's the one about 'fairness', an argument that is supported only by putative beneficiaries who are in it because of freebies or the opportunity to virtue-signal.

  33. Big Tim Says:

    Yip ! Yip ! Go man go !

  34. Misterben Says:

    Congratulations! I've been reading you for over a decade and it's exciting and hugely gratifying to see you get published like this.

  35. anotherbozo Says:

    Wahoo! Let me echo practically everyone else here. This is about time!

    Now I could see you with a regular column at WaPo, for example, and the NY Times has some deadwood that could use replacement… but maybe those gigs are for 24/7 newspaper types, who knows. Anyway, whatever you want as a forum and however often you want it, I say. It's your insights that are what more and more people need to hear.

  36. Safety Man! Says:

    @ carrstone

    I generally disapprove of namecalling and such that you usually get, but seriously dude, wtf are you babbling on about?

    @ Diana

    The friend I've referenced before, army war vet, loves Putin, Trump, and Jesus, shocked the hell out of me and came out as Trans about a month ago. Now that Trump has said he is not fit to serve he posted to Facebook, where his fine and tolerant cohorts of Carrstones ilk were happy to inform him that any kind of non-cis sexuality is a mentanillness. He probability still supports Putin, Trump, and Jesus.

  37. Safety Man! Says:

    * mental illness, apparently even my phone rejected the feces-throwing stupidity

  38. Hazy Davy Says:

    Sad. (I am.)
    and old.

    but happy for you, I guess.

  39. Major Kong Says:

    I shouldn't respond to you-know-who but my Irish is up this morning.

    First, getting paid for content these days is fucking huge, because nobody wants to pay for content.

    Second, it's not about fairness, it's about what kind of country I want to live in.

    I don't want to live in some third-world hellhole with polluted air and water, crumbling infrastructure, corrupt elections, and brutal cops. I don't want to have to cower in my gated community with armed guards because the outside looks like Fallout 4.

    I don't want to live where 5 rich guys own everything and everyone lives in or on the edge of poverty.

    I've been to places like that and it just wasn't that much fun. That's where I see us headed if the GOP has their way. There are plenty of autocratic, one-party, failed states out there to pick from. I figure we don't need one more.

    And before you start in with "class warfare" or "envy" or "punishing success" I will gladly compare W-2s with you any day.

    Kong out.

  40. Well paid socialist Says:

    Ed,

    I've been reading you every day since 2009, when you rented the Chevy Aveo and described it as a sounding like "a cross between Fran Drescher and Soundwave." You have done this for so long for our amusement that it is time somebody recognized your talents and decided to pay you. I look forward to your first book!

  41. maurinsky Says:

    I haven't read your WaPo piece yet, but congratulations.

    Good government has been on my mind this week because of that Vanity Fair article on the Department of Energy.

    My whole life, I've wondered why people vote for people who are adamant that government cannot work, and then go about making it not work when they are elected. My general thought is that progressives/Democrats are not only fighting the GOP, but we have to fight against cynicism.

  42. Brutus Says:

    “By undermining confidence in election results he is setting up a future in which any and every election outcome can be cast as illegitimate …” Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but elections have been highly questionable for a long, long time already. Scandals involving vote-buying and -tampering occurred in the 19th century. More recently, electronic voting machines, gerrymandering, and laws aimed at restricting access to the voting booth among certain demographics (always under the ruse of eradicating voter fraud) have me wondering when American elections have ever been above board. And let’s not forget that the candidates we’re offered must themselves pass through an unbelievable gauntlet to make it onto the ballot — a fact that guarantees a narrow range of candidates whose politics reflect the process far more than than public opinion. Case in point: the two abysmal candidates on the last presidential ballot (or the rogue’s gallery that made up the Republican primary slate). Hardly requires Trump to come along and point out how fake things are. And who are the ones rigging the process? Our elected representatives.

  43. Burple Says:

    Congrats Ed! I've been reading you for years and am happy to see you have this success.

  44. carrstone Says:

    @Major Kong
    Just because you can't see the 'third-world hellhole' from your ivory tower doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You're fortunate that the prevailing wind blows the other way.

  45. Vinny Says:

    Congratulations, I'm happy for you. Sad that you probably won't have time for GinandTacos, then happy again that I'll be able to read you somewhere else.

  46. AfghanVet Says:

    Congrats! Love to see you get out to the world. Great piece.

  47. Aurora S Says:

    @Major Kong–

    THIS.

    Funny how we're all a bunch of poor dumb freeloading moochers AND overeducated ivory tower snobs all at once, isn't it?

  48. Brian M Says:

    Gallstone: So YOUR solution is to double down on the non-solutions that have helped create the Trumpian Dystopia you decry?

  49. Aurora S Says:

    @Brian M–

    I would suggest not feeding the troll. We don't have to care, he's already made his positions clear, he's never going to say, "Hmm…you're right. I never thought about it that way," and come around. Ever. He thinks we're all stupid, he's the voice of reason, and, apparently, the words of Ann Coulter are those of immortal wisdom (who uses the term "ivory tower liberals" any more, for fuck's sake?). He's here to drop a deuce in our punchbowl. That's about it.

  50. democommie Says:

    Aurora S:

    I know it's just seen to be petty and mean to call Craapstain a lying, self-appointed scold and a fuckbag p.o.s. but, Jeez, I don't GOT no cable and he's the nearest thing to the assholes on FuckTheNews'Corpse that I have to stumble across from time to time.

    With luck, the ACA will be repealed, he'll find that his employer has been monitoring his keyboard antics (which cost them MONEY) and send him packing. Then he will find himself on COBRA and when that runs out, no insurance–on the same day that he finds out he has a nasty tumor.

    I feel very, very bad for the people who have to work, play, eat, live with or fuck him (in a sexual sense). It's difficult to enjoy life when you have to strap an airwick to your nose to cover up the stench he generates.

  51. carrstone Says:

    @Democommie

    Hurling insults and maligning the character of someone with whom you don't agree, is a typical progressive discussion tactic and as empty and lacking in content as are their skulls.

    As The Man would say: so sad.

  52. Art Says:

    Years ago I read an article about the signs that a nation is a banana republic. It seems applicable but I can't find it. so I'm operation from memory.

    Some of them don't seem to apply, like the one that humorously noted that commodities,like toilet paper, would be unavailable at any price but that the national currency would provide an economical substitute.

    Others have been true for some time and just weren't taken in the right context, like people losing trust in simple work being rewarded and instead turning toward lotteries, available on nearly every corner, scams, or simply giving up and falling into alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide. Churches are another escape, and certainly there seem to be a lot of those. An old traveling salesman's trick, because you want to avoid the really poor parts of town, was to lay out a city map and note where the church symbols were concentrated. Those areas were likely poor because the poor tend to hang onto religion when all else fails.

    Other symptoms related that leaders in banana republics have a habit of appearing in quasi-military uniforms with lots of metals.

    http://www.snopes.com/david-clarke-military-medals/

    The take away: "Is it stolen valor? No. Is it pathetic? Yes. It’s almost like he walks around and finds something shiny on the ground and just pins it upon himself. Some of it looks like things that came with a Halloween costume or “flair” in Office Space. I think he knows that if he puts things upon his uniform it can exude authority, or a tough guy persona."

    It works for my argument. Even if it isn't a case of 'stolen valor'. Authoritarians and hucksters are all about appearances. They wish convey a sense of authority or, in Trumps case, class but what it end up as is cos-play and unintended parody. So far Trump himself hasn't shown up in a military style uniform with metals. Give it time. I have a fin riding that he will before his term is over.

    Another observation endemic to banana republics is the sight of fancy new cars driving on lousy dirt roads and kids rooting in the garbage heaps for something to sell. I haven't seen much of either of those but, given the state of our infrastructure, and how fast money is being taken from the lower end of the economy, it seem like it is just a matter of time.

    What things have you seen that scream banana republic?

  53. April Says:

    Ed – your article has been linked in dailykos. Truly, you're "moving on up"! Another congrats!

  54. democommie Says:

    "Hurling insults and maligning the character of someone with whom you don't agree, is a typical progressive discussion tactic and as empty and lacking in content as are their skulls.

    As The Man would say: so sad."

    Glad to hear you feel that way, asshole.

    Now, then, "typical progressive discussion tactic" would be what–an unassailable truth? Would it be because people who know that you're a lying sack-of-shit and a troll are rude and dismissive because nothing you offer by way of an argument is in any way convincing to anyone who knows what reality looks like–and you find that rude and dismissive? Well, too fucking bad, dickwad.

    #Fuckoffasswipetroll

  55. carrstone Says:

    @democommie

    You always rise to the occasion, don't you? Just like Pavlov's dogs. And, like those dogs, all you ever do is dribble drivel.

    All I try to do is to have a discussion; you know, like the grownups do, but the kindest response to date is the accusation by Aurora S that, 'he's never going to say, "Hmm…you're right. I never thought about it that way," and come around' as though yours is the only way.

    And she's right. As long as there are no alternatives to my 'coming round' to your way of thinking, it's you who's stuck in the vituperative morass you've made for yourself.

  56. democommie Says:

    "All I try to do is to have a discussion; you know, like the grownups do, but the kindest response to date is the accusation by Aurora S that, 'he's never going to say, "Hmm…you're right. I never thought about it that way," and come around' as though yours is the only way."

    Kindness isn't even in your toolbox, you self-absorbed fuckwad.

    You are routinely and virtually always condescending in your comments to people who DO treat you as if if anything you ever put on the threads here had any merit.

    You're a prick and a piece-of-shit who equates having read various authors who are also self-abosorbed fuckwads, pricks and pieces-of-shit who have had vast and ongoing unacknowledged privilege conferred on them* and thus are self-made men/women.

    Your pleas for understanding, whining about the lack of it and lamenting that people like me treat you like the snivelling dickhead that you demonstrate, repeatedly, you are, is easily and completely negated by your comments to people who act as if you bring anything other than hard-right liberpublican cant to any conversation you pollute.

    I rarely waste time debating with liars and I certainly won't be wasting any with a sophomoric dipshit like you.

    #Fuckoffasswipetroll

    * Yeah, I know all about your bootstrapping, boo-hoo. MOST of us here have struggled in life.

  57. carrstone Says:

    @democommie

    Telling lies is not part of my arsenal. Your description of me is, therefore, like most of your opinions, uninformed blather.

    If you're so consistently off the mark, how can anyone trust the things you say?

  58. democommie Says:

    Trust isn't what I'm looking for from you, dickhead.

    What I'm looking for is your sorry ass departing, possibly to try to find a soul or just a decent education.

    You do realize that you spend far more time fretting about how I treat you than constructing actual arguments? That's because you're a lazy fuck, on top of the other list of failings that bedevil you.

    I do NOT give a fuck what you think. I give a fuck that you come here and shit in the punchbowl an then act as if it's someone else's fault that you're regarded as a complete fucking waste of time.

    #Fuckoffasswipetroll

  59. carrstone Says:

    Hmmm, classy!

    You consistently fail to appreciate my finer qualities. What does that say about how trustworthy your other observations and opinions are?

    See, now that, although you may not agree, is an actual argument.

  60. democommie Says:

    You have no decent qualities, asshole. "Finer" is outside your area of experience and will ever remain thus–putz.

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  63. democommie Says:

    Well, Ed:

    I see that you've replaced Crappstasch with bots. Thanks for thinking of us!

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