The president-elect rightly believes that Trump’s efforts to overthrow the will of the people in the elections will fail. In the end, the courts will dismiss the crumbling case that Trump’s lawyers are trying to build to prevent Biden from taking his rightful position.
But Biden is wrong in believing that Trump’s legal attack on his election and on American democracy is the main problem the outgoing president is raising.
Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, and whether Trump likes it or not, power will change hands. But while Trump’s lawsuits are practically laughed at out of court, the consummate snake oil salesman wins in court of Republican public opinion and could get others who may have broken for Biden to reconsider their voices. For most Americans – we have to believe – the sight of Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, whose face is dripping with some kind of hair dye and raving about fantastically absurd conspiracies against Trump, is somewhere between grimly entertaining and insulting. In fact, it is too ridiculous for most Americans to hear Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell standing alongside Giuliani, claiming Trump was stolen millions of votes in a distant conspiracy – with a key role for seven-year-old Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez Most Americans know that Biden won. Most Americans believe the election was safe, as Trump’s own cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency confirmed – right before Trump fired boss Chris Krebs for reporting that the election was the “safest” in US history . Trump fired him for directly contradicting the president’s claim that the election was fraudulent and that he was the winner.Most Americans know the truth. But apparently more than half of Republicans don’t. As his legal challenges subside, Trump is on two parallel tracks. For one thing, he and his allies are pressuring local officials to simply ignore voter verdicts and refuse to confirm the election. That means Trump is trying to core American democracy. This effort will fail.
It’s the second track – the Trumpian Disinformation Campaign – where Trump has success. And that is arguably more important than his legal and political challenges to the vote.
Remember, Trump won over 70 million votes. Polls show that the majority of his supporters believe that the wild invention of fraud on a large scale was invented in the minds of the Trump camp.
A Reuters poll found that 52% of Republicans said Trump won, compared to just 29% who said Biden won. The poll found that 73% of all respondents agreed that Biden won. This republican rejection represents a massive hole in the ground under Biden’s presidency, and if Biden does nothing, that hole could widen.Sure, the propaganda claims are so absurd, so factual, that even Fox News’ Tucker Carlson couldn’t seem to convince Sidney Powell to produce any evidence. He said she told him to stop talking on the phone. Carlson’s current skepticism is undoubtedly a deviation: something like that is rare in right-wing media. Indeed, Trump’s alternate reality of lies is being embraced and reinforced by his other media accomplices. The head of OANN, one of Trump’s most popular news and conspiracy organizations, tweeted, “Why is Biden still trying to act like he’s going to be president when he knows the Dem scam has been exposed.”
There are tens of millions of Americans living in this Trumpian Echo Chamber, and they will welcome the Biden Presidency out of wedlock. Incidentally, this message is heard all over the world, where not everyone is convinced that Trump is lying.
If the lies remain unchallenged or if they do not provoke them more strongly, the future presidency’s ability to function effectively both domestically and internationally will be compromised.
Fortunately, Biden can do a lot if he wants to. So far he hasn’t.
I am not suggesting that the president-elect get in the mud with Trump. Biden has taken a cautious approach to Trump’s legal attacks on him and US democracy. In the past few days he has spoken more forcefully, calling Trump’s actions “incredibly harmful” and “completely irresponsible”.
But he should do more. Today, Biden holds the country’s second largest megaphone (Trump as President still has the most powerful and knows the power of repetition of lies well).
Biden should use his megaphone – not to attack Trump, but to counter his message. The world listens to Biden’s words. His statements hit the headlines.
Biden doesn’t want to enter the lawsuit, but he should draw attention to what judges say about Trump’s allegations. He can point to inconsistencies in the absurd notions spun by Trump’s team.
He can still do it without ever mentioning Trump’s name. But he should tell the public, for example, that Trump’s lawyers are making public statements of misconduct in the elections while contradicting the same allegations in court and admitting to judges that they have no evidence to prove them.
Biden’s calm demeanor was intended to reassure the American public that the elections were clean and highlight key facts that most people are not aware of. These show that Trump is simply lying when he keeps saying that he has won.
The president-elect is making a mistake by letting Trump use his weapons of disinformation to fuel this propaganda war. Trump violates America and its democracy – and he undercuts the Biden presidency. Every day he gets away with this, he makes it difficult for Biden to build a successful presidency that can pull the country out of its current crises and begin healing the nation’s self-destructive divisions.