More than five months after violent rioters stormed the United States Capitol in protest of the 2020 presidential election results, Americans should be rejoicing that the waves of copycat insurrections that the media predicted never occurred. Instead, the media redefined the term “insurrection” to include commonsense policies embraced by the vast majority of Americans. Apparently insurrection, like infrastructure, is a broad and elastic category that defies easy definition. In part, they may be trying to heighten concerns over a future attack, but by watering down the term to the point of meaninglessness, they’re crying wolf with a charge that should be reserved for real and actionable threats to public safety.
The media mostly acted this way for one reason: The more malleable the definition of “insurrection,” the more rhetorically useful it is. Last month, everything was infrastructure; today, everything is insurrection. Here are a few recent examples.
The Arizona vote audit
Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday that the vote audit currently underway in Arizona is “a continuation of the Big Lie. But more importantly, and more concerningly, it’s a continuation of the insurrection — of this attempt to disenfranchise voters and dismiss the legitimacy of our elections.” She warned ominously that “we know that this is only part of a larger intention” by Republicans to shift voting guidelines away from Democratic core voters. Republican officials who deny that they believe the 2020 election was stolen are “gaslighting” the public, she continued.
“They are saying aloud that there’s nothing wrong, and at the exact same time, they’re pushing forward legislation to fix something they say is broken. Either they’re lying then… or they’re lying now.” The rebuff seems particularly ironic coming from Abrams, who still denies the legitimacy of the 2018 Georgia governor’s election, which she lost by four times as many votes as Donald Trump lost the state in 2020.
Opposing automatically registering everyone with a driver’s license via the “Motor-Voter” law
Mother Jones magazine warns its audience, “After Trump Failed to Overturn the 2020 Election, Republicans Are Trying to Steal the Next On.” Sketching out these dark designs, Ari Berman states that these steps include undermining “the voting methods … used by millions of voters … 5 million of [Georgia]’s 7.6 million voters were automatically registered at the Georgia Department of Driver Services.” But there can be little doubt that enrolling every registered driver to vote has facilitated fraud in the past.
Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt revealed that 317 non-citizens came forward to say they had wrongly been registered to vote thanks to the Motor-Voter law — and 90 had illegally voted in one or more of the swing state’s elections. The numbers are far from complete, since they include only Philadelphia, only from 2006 to 2017, and only count those who sought out the government to admit their illegitimate voting status.
Not automatically mailing ballots to inactive voters
Berman sees so many burgeoning insurrections that one policy alone would not suffice. He writes that states like Arizona may not pass every voter integrity bill in their legislatures, “but with the GOP in control of state government, other changes, like purging voters from the list of who automatically receives a mail-in ballot, are more likely to pass.” Governor Doug Ducey (R) did in fact sign that bill, S.B. 1485, on Tuesday.
Ducey explained that voters can ask for the state to automatically mail them a ballot but, if they have not voted for four years, they will no longer receive an automatic ballot. They can still request one or vote in person. Any blanket mailing of ballots could create issues of voter security, because the Pew Research Center noted that one of every eight voter registrations were inaccurate or ineligible in 2012.
The ouster of Liz Cheney
Numerous writers claimed that this month’s twin votes to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) with Rep. Elise Stefanik as the third most powerful member of the House of Representatives represent an “existential threat for democracy,” in the words of CNN’s Dana Bash. Frequent CNN guest Amanda Marcotte said, “The GOP is coalescing around a plan to steal the 2022 and 2024 elections and purge any party members who dissent.” Cheney’s removal proves that “Republicans are lining up their ducks so the next coup doesn’t fail.”
Doing anything supported by Donald Trump
Jonathan Chait warns his readers that anything which benefits Donald Trump is actually part of the insurrection. “Republican-controlled states are implementing voting restrictions to placate this lie; Republican officials who refused to go along with Trump’s autogolpe are being removed from their positions,” Chait writes in New York Magazine. “Trump is both extending his control over the party and ensuring that his anti-democratic ideology is no longer challenged. He is training his party to join him in subverting the next election.”
As we learned this month, inflation is back. The worst inflation is inflating the definition of sedition to include any policy that would rein in the Biden administration, its radical policy agenda, or anti-democratic state policies that incentivize voter fraud.
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