In light of the latter narrative, Trump and his supporters quickly moved into action. They requisitioned the term, tweaking it to refer to something else entirely. Suddenly it was used to describe media reports and media figures they disagreed with. Thanks to Trumps’ talent for branding and repetition, the latter sense has become more ubiquitous. A pithy phrase used to describe a legitimate media phenomenon that risked undermining Trump suddenly turned into an even more concise political stick to use against his enemies.
Today, a similar effort is underway to reuse another phrase that has become a handicap for the Trumps party: the big lie.
The decisions of Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines to push back Georgia’s new election law have united much of the supporters and critics of the conservative Trump movement against them. The right has accused the left and the media of overestimating the repressive elements of Georgian law and these companies of swallowing the demands as a whole.
It has been rightly noted that these laws and their more extreme variations are, in many ways, based on Trump’s big lie about an allegedly stolen election. GOP lawmakers have justified such efforts by saying they are necessary to resolve even the perception of problems, regardless of the non-existent evidence of the widespread voter fraud that Trump has claimed.
Conservatives, however, appropriate this phrase not to describe the predicate of laws like Georgia, but rather for repression.
All the facts disprove the big lie, McConnell said, referring to polls showing strong support for the kind of voter ID requirements Georgia will apply to mail ballots, as well as Washington’s factual checks. Post on President Bidens’ false allegations about the effect of laws on Early Voting Closing Times in Georgia.
McConnell added that a host of powerful people and institutions apparently believe they would benefit from repeating this big lie.
There is a legitimate debate to be had as to the degree of repression of Georgia law. Some of the more ambitious proposals that had been passed in State House and the Senate were dropped after an outcry, including ending the absentee vote without excuse and reducing the early Sunday voting, which appeared to target the souls of black churches. during elections. . Conservatives have rightly noted that the end product, on many fronts, leaves Georgia in the mainstream of the number of states that conduct their elections. (The Posts Peter Stevenson describes all of the changes to Georgia law here.)
But regardless of where Georgia lands relative to other states, it remains true that restrictions are being added in response to this big lie about the 2020 election. Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp, have more recently argued that Georgia’s bill was aimed at streamlining the process, but many others have presented new voting restrictions as a response to concerns about the legitimacy of elections. And a crucial piece of the bill takes power out of the hands of Georgia’s secretary of state right after the Republican in that position turns out to be one of the biggest critics of Trump’s big lie. As Philip Bump writes, this predicate is important.
But beyond that, we have the appropriation of the terminology of the big lie. And the parallels with fake news are plentiful.
As with fake news, the big lie is not a new concept. It was most widely associated with Nazi Germany and has come over time to refer to a propaganda strategy focused on the mass dissemination of one or a few main lies to a target population, as written historian Zachary Jonathan Jacobson on The Post in 2018. Phrases like these are appealing because they simplify a complex subject.
And that applied very well to the Trumps campaign to question the 2020 election results. Courts have routinely dismissed these claims of him and his allies like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. There is still no evidence of the type of massive fraud they called fact or anything close. But it has been said so frequently and with such enthusiasm that much of the Republican Party has come to believe it.
As with fake news, however, the term, while not as clearly applicable in this case, is probably an effective political message.
Biden and his allies compared the Georgia law and other similar proposals to the Jim Crow laws, which went much further in reducing black voting rights and in a much more targeted manner. But defenders of the law and critics of the corporate crackdown have largely picked some of the less objectionable elements while ignoring a few things: the extent of the effort by GOP lawmakers across the country, some of the attempts. – and later – the abandoned changes and motivations for the push. While Trump’s fraud allegations are essentially grounded in nothing, there is, at the very least, a lot to go through Georgia law and similar efforts to discern how they could practically affect the vote. And proponents of such changes have made it clear in many cases that their motives are based on the impact of a big lie, if not a big lie itself.
Using the term in this way serves both to simplify the debate for your supporters and to muddy the waters as to how the term was previously used. If one party says the big lie was to prevail over allegations of electoral fraud and the other party says the big lie is the crackdown on the resulting electoral law changes, a natural equivalence or at least some kind of comparison is drawn in the minds of some people. The other side does so too is one of the most effective political messages there is, as it excuses otherwise reprehensible actions. And Republicans would like something to change the subject of the idea that their voting bills are based on a big lie.
Expect this term to be used widely in the days and weeks to come.
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