Taking the Bait

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I’m glad David hit this point in The Morning Memo. In addition to the Times article he references, the Times also published a piece by Tom Edsall (the writer who perhaps most consistently drives me crazy) casting the Trump indictment as part of a larger story of “the left’s” turn away from free speech. That premise about free speech is a complicated matter in its own right. But, as David notes, it has nothing to do with this case. The case has nothing to do with platforms or hate speech or misinformation or anything else. This is a case of a group of individuals taking coordinated and affirmative non-speech steps (i.e., a conspiracy) to fraudulently change the results of a lawful election.

Ironically, the Republican trolling on this front does a pretty good job, in spite of itself, illustrating the point. Across the right-o-sphere yesterday, virtually everyone was saying, “Remember when Al Gore challenged the results of the 2000 election? Remember when Stacey Abrams said her loss to Brian Kemp was illegitimate? Only Trump is indicted though!!!”

They even said the same thing about Hillary Clinton in 2016, though this was an odd one since I think we all remember a plainly devastated Hillary Clinton, the morning after the 2016 election, conceding defeat and congratulating the new President-elect.

But the Gore and Abrams examples illustrate the point. Let’s set aside the fact that neither quite said what Republicans are claiming. Even so, the examples illustrate clearly precisely why this isn’t a First Amendment case. You can claim you’re the real winner. You can file lawsuits. You can say whatever you want. But neither of these defeated candidates tried to substitute phony vote tallies, or stop vote counting, or do any number of other illegal things to change the results of the election.

Again, Republicans make all sorts of silly, bad faith arguments. I only note them here because rather than prove any commonality and double standard, they show the glaring difference. Republicans’ examples of Democrats who took issue with elections are examples in which the candidates didn’t take any steps to alter the votes, block the legal counting of votes, or do anything else to change the lawful result. This basic difference could scarcely be more clear.

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