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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/12/20

Good morning,

While the election may be all but over, Trumpism is alive and well. We still don’t understand Trump-world at all. How is it that people continue to hang onto half-baked, unproven narratives of widespread fraud? The short answer is that it is like a cult. There is no reasoning allowed at all.

Somewhere between the political right populated by practical, hard-knuckled power politicians like McConnell, Cruz and McCarthy, who are unwilling to acknowledge reality for fear of antagonizing their base, and the alt-right heavily armed army of racists, anti-Semites and other “militia” lies a pretty sizable group of right-wingers who continue to profess their fealty to the “truly amazing” Donald Trump. They are not taking to the streets--but they are taking to the Internet.

This is a short description of my descent into one corner of Trump-land on Facebook. I have been following a Trumpian friend with thousands of followers. He is a well-regarded member of the community. I’ve been trying to respond to the posts of his minions in a rational manner, pointing out logical inconsistencies, incorrect statements of the law, crazy ideas of the authority of the Supreme Court and the inconceivability of a massive nationwide "hoax" of the election. I'm not the only one who has tried--most just leave closing posts of their frustration that people won't consider anything outside the narrative they have adopted.

These people believe the system is corrupt and that the election can’t possibly be proven to be fair. They have no trust in the system, which would seem to lead to the conclusion that no result (short of a Trump victory) can ever be trusted. There is no reasoning. It’s just a fraud. He got 70 million votes and those voters deserve to have proven to them that the election was fair. They dispute Biden's ability to garner votes because he didn't hold rallies during COVID. Crowds, to them, translate to votes. Here is some of what they believe, which I learned in my descent into the Trump-web. Much of which is highly disturbing, but it is sincerely believed and they are unshakable in their commitment and unwavering support:

  • The media lies--in unison. This is the most complex, as they dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole where only a single point of view—often unsupported by facts—echoes over and over again. They truly don’t trust the “lamestream” media for anything. They are rallying each other to pledge to avoid it at all costs. Fox has demonstrated itself to be too liberal. Proof of their abandonment of the President was the call of Arizona early-on. They are encouraging each other to read only a limited number of newspapers (The Washington Times, an arm of the Fulan Gong, NewsMax and Breitbart are among their favorites).

  • Mail-in ballots are inherently fraudulent. They do not accept that COVID necessitated more mail-in ballots. They do not accept that mail-in ballots are historical. They believe they were distributed en masse to dead people and multiple ballots to some. They do not accept that there are computer programs designed to weed out multiple ballots from the same person.

  • Ballots "kept appearing overnight. They believe the narrative that was most feared--Trump ahead when in-person ballots were counted and then falling behind later. They believe that all the ballots should have been in the hands of the election officials for counting at the close of the polls. They don’t appreciate that ballots are counted serially, and not all at once. Because of this, they believe that the ballots “dropped” during the middle of the night are part of a conspiracy to inundate otherwise American precincts with Biden votes.

  • The ballots for the Senate were okay; the ballots for the Presidency were not. They are unmoved by the irony that the election went to Biden, while the Democrats fared poorly in Senate races. They see it instead as the counters monkeying with the results.

  • They believe that urban areas were too slanted toward Biden. They don't believe a precinct can ever go 80% for the Democratic candidate. They find no problem with similar disproportionality in Republican-leaning areas. They believe it inconceivable that Black neighborhoods could be so pro-Biden, particularly because they were told Trump had made inroads in this voting group.

  • They believe in a vast conspiracy. They truly believe the Democrats have orchestrated a complex multi-state plan to undermine the vote and miscount it. They are unmoved by the idea that these states have dedicated public servants counting the votes, under the watchful eye of observers.

  • Republicans were blocked out of observing. They believe Republicans have been “locked out” of observing many of the vote counting facilities, notwithstanding evidence to the contrary. They don't seem to accept that both parties' observers were similarly treated. They don't believe a six foot COVID-friendly distancing was warranted.

  • The results can never be viewed as final until certification and transition cannot proceed. They believe that the election isn’t final until states certify the results (which is technically, legally, correct). They are unmoved by the practice that, when the election is clearly “won” in a state, that state's electoral vote is presumptively "earned" and that we typically will proceed on that basis.

  • The GSA must certify the election. They believe the GSA has a role in certifying the election (remember that the GSA merely assists in transition planning). They don’t seem to understand that

  • The Supreme Court is all-powerful. They believe the Supreme Court can order a recount of the entire national election, on its own initiative, even without a lawsuit that alleges anything.

  • If the President says so, then it's so. They believe that, because people they love and trust scream that the election has been stolen, it has been stolen.

  • Joe Biden is the Manchurian Candidate. They believe Joe Biden is a puppet of Kamala Harris who, in turn, is a puppet to Communists and Socialists who are hell-bent on destroying America.

  • Biden is brain-dead. They believe Joe Biden suffers from advanced dementia.

  • The Supreme Court can hear a case on petition of citizens and can order a new election. Many are signing a “petition” to the Supreme Court, demanding a recount nationally and demanding that the election be “re-voted.” I kid you not. That petition is out there and has over 500,000 signatures to date.

  • Massive voting by the deceased. They believe 21,000 dead people voted in Pennsylvania. Yes, they quote that number, without source.

  • They continue to believe cases of alleged fraud that have been debunked.

  • Fraud is widespread and, once uncovered, Trump will be victorious. They believe that the “fraud” in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin will push Trump over the top.

  • There needs to be consensus in the the vote and its value. They maintain that 70 million Americans who voted for Trump need to be satisfied that the election was fair (although they provide no proof that all those who voted for him demand this, nor do they establish a standard whereby they would be satisfied). In essence, they truly believe that the burden of proof that this is a fair election is on the winner. In other words, they must prove the negative—that there was not fraud. Sort of like “whack a mole” where some of the moles can be seen but the winner must find and whack all other potential ones…

  • Stick to the "trusted media." Some are urging others to stick to only the high quality, trusted media, like Breitbart, NewsMax, and the Epoch Times. Real Clear Politics is cited as a valuable source as well.

  • Anyone who says Biden won is ostracized. And this includes life-long Republican/Conservative leaders.

They truly believe that there is a conspiracy, whose members include:

  • Biden and Harris

  • The entirety of the mainstream media

  • Secretaries of State (including Republicans) nationally

  • Poll workers throughout the country

  • Vote counters who aren’t being watched by Trump supporters (of course, contrary to the facts)

And they believe this notwithstanding:

  • This would take literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people to pull this off

  • Not one of this vast number has “come clean” to disclose their role in this conspiracy

  • There hasn’t been an inquiry by the FBI or any credible law enforcement agency into this alleged theft (although Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Bill Barr, is asking that facts of the fraud be gathered by the Justice Department.

  • As sophisticated and far reaching as this conspiracy is, it modified vote counts for Biden without touching Senate races, ensuring a Republican majority and pick-ups in the House and state legislatures. Pretty stupid conspirators…

  • No evidence! None! Nada! Just folks like Rudy Giuliani (whose scene in the new Borat movie comes as close to filming an inappropriate sexual encounter as one can get with people’s clothes remaining on).


On a happier note, an anecdote about trains… Albuquerque is not just known for the Sandia Labs and Breaking Bad. It’s actually a pretty livable place, near Bandelier National Monument, a short way away from Santa Fe and Taos and a mile high (like Denver). I have received several comments about my story of a train trip to Albuquerque. Here is one more train traveler, Mark DiMaria, Boy Scout leader:

I've been on that Albuquerque route twice. The good part -- I love Amtrak, and the ability to be with my thoughts while watching our vast nation and all of its quirky diversity roll by. The challenging part -- on each occasion I was leading a group of a dozen 14-16 year old Boy Scouts on their way to and from a two-week back country trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico (along with [another] adult leader, which could be equally challenging). I am sure that you will recall, both as a child and as a parent, that this is a "difficult" age. And of course, for me it was 24 hours of herding cats, keeping and extracting the guys (all really good kids, but ...) from trouble, apologizing to the other passengers and conductors for their unwitting transgressions, ensuring that they were back on the train before it left each stop (Albuquerque was a particular challenge -- long stop, Native American vendors, a beckoning city, enough time by then to be bored of the train, etc.), and keeping a lid on the various attempted trysts between the guys and the bevy of admiring teenaged girls on the trains (be wary of that downstairs snack bar rest room!).

Warm regards,


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