Note: this is a response to an opinion piece written by Juan Williams and published in The Hill earlier this week. You can find that piece here.
Picture a simple man who wants to attend a sci-fi convention that’s coming to town this weekend. But there’s a problem. His wife already has plans for him. She has a laundry list of disagreeable chores that include mowing the lawn, cleaning the basement, washing the car, scrubbing the tub, and massaging her feet.
So, what should he do?
What’s that you say? He should be honest with her and trust her to be reasonable? Please. I’m being serious here.
No, what this situation calls for is an elaborate set of lies. And the best way to make that set of lies convincing is to start early.
Now, in this case, he needs to get started the week before. Over dinner, he can casually drop in conversation that he might have to go into work on the day in question because there’s a big project his company is working on, and the schedule doesn’t allow for him to fit it in anywhere else. If she asks for specifics, he should start using a bunch of technical, industry insider jargon he knows she’s unfamiliar with until her eyes glaze over. This will ensure that she doesn’t ask for specifics again.
The next step, on the Monday or Tuesday before the convention he says it’s no longer a “might have to go in” situation, it is now definite. At this point, he reminds her about the chore list, expresses lament over not being able to get to it on her schedule and lets her know that he will have to get as much of it done on Sunday as possible (sigh, yes, he will have to get it done at some point).
With all of this done, there are a few of things he will have to do in the days leading up to the convention to help himself. First, he should write on the wall calendar the word “Work” and draw a big red circle around it so everyone in the house can see it. Next, while at work that week he should take a selfie while sitting at his desk and then hold on to it for later use. He needs to make sure he looks bored in the picture. Finally, at some point that week, after she goes to bed, he needs to smuggle the Captain Kirk uniform he plans on wearing to the convention out of the house and hide it under the front seat of the car. That way he can stop and change in a gas station bathroom on the way.
Now, the purpose of the selfie is for him to send it to her on the day of the convention. He will need to caption it with a text saying, “Wish I was home with you instead of being bored here at work.” Another important thing he will need to remember here is to wear the same clothes when he leaves the house that he wore in the selfie he took earlier that week.
Now, with all of this work done in advance, he should be able enjoy his day at the convention without a hitch. He will just need to remember to change back into his regular clothes before he get home.
So, what’s the point of all of this? Am I really just giving instructions on how to properly escape doing household work so you can go play dress up for a few hours on the weekend?
I’m demonstrating that sometimes lies take work. And I’m pointing that out because we see a similar scenario playing out on a larger scale right now before the collective eyes of our nation.
Earlier this week, Juan Williams, a Fox News contributor and well-known mouthpiece for the left, wrote an op-ed in which he tried to make the case that the GOP was laying the groundwork for stealing the next Presidential election. What he actually did was lay the ground work by which he and liberals across the country can undermine the next Republican President.
In this piece, Mr. Williams does three things that we see the sneaky husband in the story above do. First, he plants a seed. Second, he starts early. And third, he misdirects.
First, he plants the seed that Republicans are preparing to steel the election. In fact, the title of his piece is “GOP Preparing the Ground to Steal an Election.”
In planting this seed, Mr. Williams is going to make it easier for election theft to be the perceived reality when and if the Democratic candidate loses the White House in 2024. How? Through a psychological phenomenon called Motivated Perception.
Whether knowingly or unknowingly (I suspect the latter), Williams is playing off the fact that human perceptions are often biased, selective, and malleable. Or, as Atticus Finch puts it in the great American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, “People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”
Now, while all of this is fine as far as it goes, a person cannot see election theft unless they first consider it a possibility. Unfortunately, both sides are all to familiar with this from the past two Presidential election cycles. So, while Williams isn’t introducing anything new, he is reinforcing an unfortunate tendency that Americans are developing and he’s helping to give shape to what that eventually might look like.
Like the husband in the story, planting the seed about having to work so that the wife knew it was a likelihood was a much better strategy that simply springing things on her the morning of. If he’d dropped the “I gotta work today” bomb on her as he was walking out of the door, he wouldn’t have had nearly as much cooperation.
The second thing that Williams does in his piece is he starts well in advance of the actual events. When he writes about stolen elections, he is writing about the 2024 Presidential election. This event is nearly four years away.
Why does he need to start so early?
First, by starting early it allows for the Motivated Perception to become more deeply entrenched in the minds of the voters he’s trying to convince. If Democratic voters have four full years to convince themselves that this is going to happen, there will be less work to do to convince them of fraud when the election finally comes. And the more deeply entrenched the idea is, the angrier they will be on that day. And they will be more motivated to resist whatever Republican administration takes office at that time.
Second, by starting early, Williams and his liberal compatriots give themselves leeway to intensify rhetoric between now and then. Like the husband in the story started by saying there was a possibility he would have to work that day and then moved up to saying he definitely would have to work that day, Williams is now saying “Hey, this is possible” and will eventually move on to say “Hey, this is definitely happening.” The facts, of course, won’t matter.
Finally, what Williams does in this piece that the husband in the story does as well is misdirect. In the story, the husband made sure to take a selfie at work to send to his wife on the day of his sci-fi convention. He also made sure to circle the date on his calendar so that everyone could see and be reminded that he had to work.
In his piece, Williams takes several examples of Republicans passing election reform laws across the nation and mischaracterizes them as attempts to restrict voting rights. This phrase “restrict voting rights” is obviously one that has poll tested well for Democrats as they keep using it. Unfortunately, its not the case. There were significant voting irregularities across the nation in 2020 which have left a lot of unanswered and unanswerable questions. Officials with no power to do so unilaterally altered how and when votes were to take place and often these changes shifted the voting process to systems that were susceptible to fraud.
State legislatures are now stepping in to clean this mess up and ensure that there isn’t a repeat. Yes, this may mean less early voting and voting by mail. Yes, this may mean power to certify elections is taken out of the hands of judges and other officials and returned to legislatures.
Does this make it more difficult to vote? Yes.
Does it make it more difficult to cheat? Yes.
Is this trade off a net positive? Absolutely.
For Williams, and leftists in general, to attack the actions of Republican legislatures without mentioning the context of the chaos of the 2020 election is dishonest at best, and deliberately malicious at worst.
What Williams did in his piece in The Hill is nothing less than laying the groundwork for undermining the next Republican administration. In so doing, he betrays his lack of confidence in the current Democrat administration. The Democratic nominee in 2024 will be either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris (my money is on Harris). Given the performance of these two in recent days, it doesn’t look like either of them will be a strong candidate. Biden has spent the week mumbling to himself and getting lost in front of the entire world while Kamala spent her time cackling her way through Latin America in an unconvincing show of getting to the root of the border crises.
Rather than trying to back these losing horses, Williams has decided to skip straight to undermining their successor. It’s a strategy that worked well with Trump and the false Russia allegations and before that they spent eight years undermining Bush with the end result of Democrats winning the White House and a filibuster proof majority in Congress.
In 2016 and 2020 America crossed a dangerous threshold. We are now at the point where neither side is willing to respect the electoral victories of the other. This disrespect has translated into resistance for the sake of resistance and in some cases even escalated to violence. Unless one of the two sides is willing to step back from this spiral and be the bigger person, this escalation will continue with devastating results. And Juan Williams, in his own small way, just through a little bit a fuel onto that fire.
You can follow Tom on Twitter @SearlTom.
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