The sketch below is very funny, and I return to it often. The comedic premise is simple—bad guys realizing, with some alarm, that they’re the bad guys—and it works because, in hindsight, it’s so obvious that the Germans were the villains of World War Two, and it’s hilarious to watch a fictional pair of Nazis experience this epiphany in real time:
I thought about this sketch today because I began to wonder if, anywhere in America, the following conversation was occurring:
Republican One: Hey, so I’ve been thinking about the midterms lately…
Republican Two: Yeah?
Republican One: Is it a little weird that we live in a democracy, but we don’t want all the votes counted? I mean, the Democrats aren’t fighting to stop the vote count.
Republican Two: Hmm…I haven’t really thought about it.
Republican One: Are we…are we the bad guys?
Now, this isn’t new—you could write this same exchange for any number of issues, many of them way more heinous (lifetimes of trauma for immigrant children separated from their families the border, etc. etc.). But the dynamic is particularly egregious this week, in the various races around the country, from Arizona to Florida to Georgia, where the outcome is still in doubt. In each case, Republicans are getting extremely upset that…well, that votes are being counted. If that sounds like liberal slant, it’s really not. Sure, they manufacture a few excuses to gloss it up, but fundamentally they’re mad that people get to vote.
We keep hearing things like this:
“Isn’t it weird that all these votes are coming in late?”
Nope! It’s completely normal. It happens every time, and you mostly don’t notice because most elections aren’t this close. When they are this close, mail-in votes and absentee and provisional ballots have to be counted.
“This is voter fraud!”
No it isn’t. There’s no voter fraud, except for the kind committed by Republicans who try to suppress votes both before and after the election. Brian Kemp in Georgia is a terrific example—in a just world, he’d be in jail for the voter suppression tactics he pursued before this year’s gubernatorial race, and now weird things are happening with provisional ballots. When he wins, which seems likely, the margin will be so narrow that it won’t be even slight hyperbole to chalk it up to disenfranchisement.
That’s voter fraud. What the Democrats are doing—wanting all the votes to be counted—is not voter fraud.
If you’re tweeting obvious lies like this, you are not the good guy:
Not only are you not the good guy, but you're such a bad guy that you're actively undermining your country's faith in democracy and seeking a future in which that democracy is obsolete and the power of determining truth and power belongs exclusively to you.
The same goes for lies like these, which are simply not true:
If you’re filing multiple lawsuits which have been accurately characterized by your opponent as an effort “to stop every legal vote from being counted,” and if you have also been accurately labeled as impersonating a dictator, you are not the good guy.
These are truths they can’t escape. If your reflexive instinct is to commit fraud, and to set the table for that crime by pre-emptively accusing the other side of fraud, you are not the good guy. If you wage endless war against representative democracy by stifling the vote, especially the vote of people who aren’t white, you are not the good guy. If you’re a Republican operative or one of their supporters, look in the mirror—you are not the good guy.