Whether you are for Biden or for Trump, it should disturb you how social smearing is a choice weapon for justifying or turning the Election of 2020. If you know me and my family, we have quite the story to share about social smearing. But allow me to traverse to help make sense of the 2020 post-election results: Trump and his supporters are being socially smeared. And I have a reasonable solution.
Before I outline the solution, let me first establish this most basic fundamental of American elections: Our republic must decide its next president based on the rule of law. Whoever the winner or loser of our electoral vote — Joe Biden or Donald Trump — that man should abide by the law. The rule of law is the only swaying factor that should seat or unseat the candidate for the President of the United States.
I opine that social smearing is being used to unearth the rule of law and replace the justification of the next president with fallaciousness and false narratives. Allowing anything other than the rule of law would be an injustice, especially if smearing techniques are used. Our world of politics is just as wrapped up in the social smearing world as you and I are in social media, and a coordinated attempt to smear a President and his 72,057,511 voters (my last count) is underway. It has been for some time, really, but I suspect we are waking up to it.
When sifting through the media’s attempt to reshape the election away from the rule of law, it helps to recognize the three most basic attacks of a social smearer.* I see these three attacks all over the so-called news of America’s 2020 election.
It was the Thursday following the election when President Trump delivered his take on the remaining states in the election countdown. I had witnessed the near landslide election on Tuesday, followed by two days of electoral harvesting of the landslide as the numbers dwindled. I believe the President made the strong case for recounts and litigation in the closest races, just as has been done in countless previous elections, most notably the 2000 presidential election.
Yet, as the President left the podium, a reporter shouted out, “Mr. President, aren’t you just being a sore loser?” And this has been the general attitude of the media since, toward the President and his voters.
This is a clear attack against President Trump as a man — an ad hominem — rather than a question of the argument being given. A “sore loser” is much easier to discount than the closeness of key battleground states or the dubiousness of their ballot counting. Rather than ask questions about the arguments, this reporter asked a question on the character of the President.
I see the same fallacy being used on those of us upset with the results of the election. There are legitimate arguments to be made that should allow President Trump to challenge election results and litigate them. The rule of law should decide the election, yet those of us making the arguments are being called “sore losers.” The smear has not let up since media outlets called the election last Friday in favor of Joe Biden.
The ad hominem is nothing but a smear. Resist it. And if you’re for Joe Biden, stop using it against Trump supporters. It isn’t fair or just. It’s mean.
This fallacy is closely related to the ad hominem, perhaps less antagonizing, but just as divisive. From Facing Hate:
“This fallacy is a word picture: Envision an attack against a straw man instead of a real one, which is, of course, infinitely easier. You can stab away at that scarecrow all you want; it will not resist you. Here’s how it works online: Your adversary paints a false picture of you or your argument, then proceeds to attack that falsity. Much like the ad hominem above, the mob often attempted to paint a picture of me that was easier to hate… You will find that the haters online will virtually always straw man their opponent.”
Those of us who are questioning the validity of the 2020 election results are quickly straw-manned as “conspiracy theorists.” This causes Facebook and Twitter censorship that has run roughshod through Big Tech’s attempts to steer public opinion on the election. It also galvanizes the media against anyone who attempts to make the argument that election irregularities must be investigated. “Oh, those are just conspiracy theories,” they say, and then they move on. Because, as the fallacy argues, conspiracy theories are not valid.
At the moment I put together this blog post’s thoughts, I believe it is uncertain who will end up winning the presidency. But for many the race is over. This is because of the “straw man” the media has put up: Joe Biden is the declared winner and Donald Trump the loser. It is not true, but it is a set-up doll easily challenged, a “straw man.”
Do you see how this works? Never mind the rule of law, the electorate. Who is going to challenge this? As of right now six states hang in the balance yet to be officially decided. Wisconsin and Georgia are recounting and four other states are chin-deep in litigation over voting irregularities. If this is a surprise to you it is because you’ve been delivered the straw man. Many media outlets have declared a winner, so you’re just being a “sore loser” (back to the ad hominem) that should be easily knocked down.
Nope. The rule of law must prevail, not the media. Push through the recounts and litigation until we are quite certain of who fairly won the Election of 2020. Anything other than this is a smear.
There are countless numbers of “appeal” fallacies, meaning they are logical attempts to steer people away from the important arguments and issues. Think of Neil Cavuto cutting away from the President’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany as she was making the administration’s case for its litigation since election night. Cavuto said: “Unless [McEnany] has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue to show you this.” This was an appeal to his viewers to ignore the arguments from McEnany and instead trust in his superior judgment (appeal to authority).
Big Tech is likewise making “appeals” in their blatant censorship of videos and social media posts put out by the Trump administration, even the President himself. Take, for example, the now-common disclaimer on virtually all of the President’s tweets on the election: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” None of Biden’s declarations of winning are getting the same treatment — and his winning is definitely being disputed in the court of law!
I’m not sure which is more dystopian or disturbing: Big Tech or Mainstream Media attempting to sway the results of an election. Either way, this should bother everyone.
The only appeal in a Presidential election to figure out who won should be the rule of law. Fallacies of logic — ultimately social smearing — will do nothing to get to the truth. This, frankly, is my main point of writing Facing Hate. From Chapter 10:
“All of these logical fallacies do the same thing: avoid the truth by diverting the debate. The ad hominem, the straw man and the numerous appeals to anything other than the truth are all meant to lead you off the trail of discovery and into worthless weeds of nonsense (which is the actual image of another fallacy, the “red herring”; a fake fish used to lead you away from the trail of truth). To some, remember, “the truth doesn’t matter,” and this defaults to the fallacious thinking you see in Facebook groups, viral Twitter tweets, and other social media debates. You can see why I consider most of the online “debates” to be no debate at all, and why I resist engaging them.”
We shouldn’t have to suffer a social smear for our political opinions, yet that seems to be the status quo of the 2020 Presidential Election. These fallacious attempts to smear the President and his voters should not be given credence until the rule of law — the electorate — makes its final decision. Anything other would be a travesty.
* I outline much of this article in my latest book, Facing Hate: Overcoming Social Smearing, Recovering Relationships, and Rebuilding Your Reputation.