Political Animal


October 10, 2012 10:46 AM Post-Election Truthers

By Ed Kilgore

At Slate yesterday, election-law wizard Rick Hasen raised a question that’s been in the back of a lot of minds lately: will conservatives accept an adverse result on November 6, or begin more or less radical efforts to deny its legitimacy?

The question isn’t far-fetched. For several weeks, we have seen Republicans challenge the veracity of a number of election-related facts, and the outcome of the presidential election may be no different.

Hasen goes into one particular conspiracy theory that hasn’t gotten a lot of MSM attention, but is a live wire in the wingnutosphere:

This week features what conservative blogs are touting as an “explosive” new report suggesting that the Obama campaign is illegally accepting massive foreign contributions via credit card. The so-called proof comes from a number of foreign visits to the Obama campaign website, the lack of any federal requirement to publicly disclose contributions from individuals who give less than $200 overall, and the Obama campaign’s supposed failure to use credit card verification tools to make sure the contributions are coming from inside the United States.
Never mind that the Obama campaign has denied similar reports in the past and has confirmed it does use the verification tools; that an extensive Federal Election Commission audit of the 2008 Obama campaign found no evidence of illegal foreign contributions; that foreign visits to the website does not mean that foreign contributions are being made; and that U.S. citizens (including those in the military) living abroad have the right to contribute to federal campaigns. The claims are a way to delegitimize the Obama campaign, even as Republican leaders in Congress stymie efforts to fix our broken disclosure laws and argue for less disclosure of campaign finance information.

Hasen doesn’t come out and say it, but it sometimes seems these conspiracy theories are aimed less at the world outside the closed information feedback loop of the Right, and more at conservatives themselves: to fortify their belief that Obama and company are slowly extinguishing democracy and freedom, and must be resisted. It’s as though they are talking themselves into a revolutionary posture. The kindling is obviously already there in the form of the “constitutional conservative” conviction that there is a sole “American” governing ideology that no election should be allowed to modify, along with the “47% theory” that Democratic voters are either vicious parasites or helpless dupes of Godless Big Government.

I’m not predicting any post-election disorders, but they wouldn’t surprise me. And without question, those who are “post-election truthers” in the making have every incentive to support and participate in voter suppression efforts right now.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • schtick on October 10, 2012 10:57 AM:

    It's the old "well, HE'S doing it so I can!" meme. It's called PROJECTION. Teapubs live by lies and projection and have for years.

  • kindness on October 10, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Republicans did the same thing with Clinton if you recall. Obama would only be so lucky if they tried to impeach him. No, the Right has gone reichtwingnutz and I fear they are goading themselves to do the previously unthinkable.

    Maybe it is a good time for liberals to buy guns....

  • c u n d gulag on October 10, 2012 11:03 AM:

    A loss, after all that they've done to sabotage the economy, the President, and the country, and insuring victory by making a hapless flip-flopping squish like Mitt Romney their candidate, will make the election results look delegitimate in their eyes.
    With the economy THIS bad, how could we lose?!?!?!

    And, as I've said before, "There will be blood."

    They won't be able to help themselves.
    Their rage is set to boil over - the fires have been stoked by FOX "News" and Radio Rushwanda.

  • stormskies on October 10, 2012 11:10 AM:

    Because of Fox propaganda, and the insane rantings of right wing radio that is spread across our country like a plague, these true cretins have created an alternative 'reality' that is nothing but total delusion, fiction, and needing to impose their delirium on everyone.

    These cretins need to 'win' at all costs in order to 'validate' their delusional rantings. To 'loose' requires that they look into themselves to discover just how delusional they are.

    Nope, can't do that. So of course they will 'need' to do whatever they have to do in order to 'win' at all costs.

  • Ralph Kramden on October 10, 2012 11:16 AM:

    And, conversely, if the Democrats lose Ohio with the expected long lines at Dem precincts and breezy voting at Republican ones, or if the Dems lose Pennsylvania with drastically reduced turnout in Philly, will we get cries of "stolen" from their partisans?

  • T2 on October 10, 2012 11:20 AM:

    When Obama wins with 280-290 Electoral College votes, and loses the popular vote by 150-200 K votes, the fur will fly. With many women inexplicably moving back to Romney, and many Progressives sooooooo disappointed at Obama's lack of debate skills, it could happen.

  • jrosen on October 10, 2012 11:20 AM:

    Radio Rushwanda is broadcast from Glennbeckistan.

    BTW, I hate to nitpick, but "loose" (two O's) describes several screws in Glenn Beck's head. "Lose" (one O)is what happens when you can't get a crooked SCOTUS to throw the election to you. This is a common tic in comments that (so give me a break!) drives me nutso.

    Another (and I know this is a losing--not loosing!--- battle) is "beg the question" doesn't mean "raise a question". It means that you are assuming what you claim to prove (circular reasoning), like several of the proofs of God's existence from the Middle Ages.

  • Peter C on October 10, 2012 11:27 AM:

    This is why we have to win big in November. This is why we have to make this election about the whole Republican Party and not just about Romney v. Obama. A legitimate party cannot harbor extremists like this; such people must be beyond the pale.

    The Republican Party is dying but is dangerous in its death throes. A 'coup de grace' is given not only to put a wounded creature out of pain, but to protect those around it from harm from its final thrashing.

    There are some Democrats who want to keep the Republican Party around and who harbor fond hopes of a return to sanity. But, the Republicans have gone too far with their 'Second Amendment Solutions' rhetoric; that's terrorism and the Republican establishment has failed to curb it within their ranks.

  • John on October 10, 2012 11:31 AM:

    Didn't Romney hold an actual fundraiser in Jerusalem? how does that work?

  • PTate in MN on October 10, 2012 11:34 AM:

    Right-wing conservatives didn't accept the 2008 election results either. They've done everything in their power to discredit the legitimacy of Obama as POTUS (birthers? ACORN fraud?) and obstruct the will of the majority (filibustering in the Senate, blocking federal appointments, sabotaging the economy, suppressing the vote.) They have been buying guns to defend themselves against the Feds and preaching sedition.

    So if Obama wins in November, it is a certainty that conservatives will be outraged and angry. The billionaires who are funding the conservative movement will pour more millions into the fight.

    I don't think it will come to armed rebellion. Despite all the saber-rattling, most Tea partiers are too fat and comfortable to actually take up arms against the Tyrant. These are not people who think with any coherence. They enjoy the drama of being threatened but do not want to lose the benefits provided by the government that they hate so much.

  • Grumpy on October 10, 2012 11:44 AM:

    Democrats did the same thing with George W. Bush if you recall. Both times, with various levels of legitimacy.

    Of course, there was & is an active movement that believes Obama was not legally elected president in 2008. What of it??

  • POed Lib on October 10, 2012 11:57 AM:

    Foreign contributions? Geezus, I hope they do start that. Sheldon Adelson has pumped 100 million dollars into the Repukeliscum Party, all obtained by his high-speed Chinese prostitution operation in Macau. Millions and millions of dollars, all from prostitution.

  • Robert on October 10, 2012 11:58 AM:

    The R party is of the corporate personhood...real people are nothing to them...if the right loses (one O) we will see the corporate structure in the U.S. really take a dive...retribution will be stiff and widespread...oops time to turn off Mitt's speech...will there be blood in the streets? You betcha...the corporations will continue and enhance the use of our military/police/prison system to gain control of this country...I never thought, even in my most wild dreams, America would be attacked from within our own borders. Grover Norquist is a foreigner with the destruction of our government as his main goal...who bought him? Our republican leadership is all about the strangulation of the very institution they benefit from...or they used to until the bankers started to pay more...there is NO loyalty to our country from these people, yet they talk about Patriotism...they know nothing of Patriotism...

  • RalfW on October 10, 2012 12:08 PM:

    John asks "Didn't Romney hold an actual fundraiser in Jerusalem? how does that work?"

    Probably. I know he held a fundraiser in London. I'm sure very dollar of that was squeaky-clean.


    To the larger point, I expect real trouble after Nov. 6th. If Romney wins, we'll be at war with Iran in short order...most likely late January. And the world will be very destabilized if that happens.

    If Obama is re-elected, I expect the destabilization to be much more domestic. There are a frightening number of 2nd amendment remediers out there. It could get mighty ugly.

    And it's not like we haven't had race riots before. Or lynchings. Or machine-gunnings of labor activists. We have a violent political/social past. We've tamped that way down in recent memory, but it could all fire up again.

    Not sayin git will, but I am much less sanguine than Ed here.

  • bobbo on October 10, 2012 12:40 PM:

    I think it's pretty much a given that Republicans would try (and fail) to impeach Obama. They have been saying it out loud. But I really doubt you'll see rioting in the streets. We have stable and reliable insitutions in the is country, and even if we think the result is wrong (see, e.g., Bush v. Gore), we accept the results as part of the democratic process.

  • Neildsmith on October 10, 2012 12:48 PM:

    Even if it doesn't happen this time, the GOP has learned that they can bully their way back to power. Sooner or later, they will take the next step. Voter ID laws are just the first step. There is little reason to think it will end there.

  • Tom on October 10, 2012 12:52 PM:

    if they win the House, they will impeach Obama, because it works. I think that Al Gore's loss in 2000 can be traced to the fact that the Dems were unable to run on the Clinton record. Remember all that push/pull on whether Clinton would a help or a drag on the ticket?

    The question remains: what are the procedures in place for challenging an election. Last time, Maxine Waters and the CBC tried to get the House to investigate the vote in Ohio before the electoral college vote was accepted.

    I hope Nancy Pelosi is boning up on that section of the rules.

  • Josef K on October 10, 2012 1:04 PM:

    Itís as though they are talking themselves into a revolutionary posture.

    File this under WELL DUH!!

    They've been doing this since at least 1995, when those charming fellows McVeigh and Nichols detonated that bomb in OK City, and there's always been an underground of anti-government annimus at work in our polity.

    Having a black President (one who is demonstrably smarter, bookwise at least, than most of the GOP caucus)? I'm a little amazed none of these light-weather patriots haven't taken more public pot-shots at him yet.

    Will they accept his re-election? Not likely, but neither am I sure they'll gather the piles necessary to actually do more than type nasty emails about it.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 10, 2012 1:35 PM:

    More and more, I wish there was a way this country could just split up. No Civil War II, just say bye to the idiots and assholes. Just let them have their pluto-theocracy and banana republic. Leave them their anti-science, biblical schools modeled on the Taliban. Let them wallow in RushFox News. But give me back a sane country where the crackpots are hidden under the furniture, rarely heard, damn near invisible and the stupidity of FoxRush can just be laughed at instead of an existential threat.

  • TCinLA on October 10, 2012 2:10 PM:

    It is in fact a good time for liberals to be buying guns, because these traitors are indeed working themselves into a froth to go repeat history.

    This time we should let them go and then nuke them as the fundamentalist terrorist-supporting failed state they are.

  • kindness on October 10, 2012 2:25 PM:

    I'm a liberal and don't think we'll be looking at an all out Civil War when Obama is re-elected and he will be. But there are pockets of this country where I do feel we will see the TeaHaddists try and take things into their own hands and that will be messy.

    So don't get me wrong, I don't want to come off as fearmongering like Fox does. I just don't see any purpose in re-enacting the siege of the Warsaw ghetto of WWII.

    I'm a liberal but I'm not a pacifist. Especially where my families life is concerned.

  • Shivas on October 10, 2012 2:33 PM:

    Citizens United has opened the door to massive a influx of foreign money since disclosure of the source is not required. It would be quite easy for a foreign government or a large foreign corporation to funnel money into a US organization and then into an organization like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS.

    If the left wants to fight back they should just loudly and frequently accuse these organizations of accepting foreign donations. Let them prove they are not.

  • Old Uncle Dave on October 10, 2012 2:56 PM:

    Obama has this election won. The Dems should concentrate their efforts (i.e. money) on working to take back the House and keep the Senate.

  • burro on October 10, 2012 3:45 PM:

    Posted by Mr. Benen at Maddowblog:

    And I love this quote E.J. Dionne Jr. heard from a friend: "When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you," he said. "When you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves."

    This applies to many things and there's no justification for it whatever. When the r's stamp their wittle feet, everyone trembles. Even the suggestion that they might stamp their feet gets everybody in a tizzy. It's pathetic beyond all comprehension.

    They really are just dickhead bullies and it's amazing what it gets them. Amazing. Incredible. They lie. They insult. They show no respect. And they turn the tides with that crap. Dems freak out in ecstasy in the exceedingly rare instances when Harry Reid does something gutsy, or when Bill C. stands up in front of the world and puts the r's in their place. But there's total hangdog sadness and angry flagellation all around when a debate happens and our guy just stands there and takes it, again.

    It's pretty f'n sickening that at this point they are already setting up their next tantrum storm and the main response is to go out and buy duct tape and plywood to weather the craziness.

    These assholes don't deserve the bullied respect, the fear, the goddamn angst that they gin up. It's bullshit. And this premeditated insinuation that results will be questioned and disavowed is bullshit too, and should be treated as such with the utmost clarity and directness.

  • smartalek on October 10, 2012 7:32 PM:

    "I'm not predicting any post-election disorders"

    And why the hell not?
    As has been ably pointed out, the Publicans, their media mouthpieces, and their voters are all about the projection.
    And for a while now, anyone willing to brave the fetid fever-swamps of the rightwing blogosphere has seen all matter of blather about how the Obama-voting leeches, the lazy, dependent "takers," would surely be running riot were Obama to lose -- y'know, "just like [sic] they did after Rodney King" -- and "lynching real Americans" -- again, "just like [sic] they did after Trayvon."
    The fact that they lie about everything doesn't mean we shouldn't be listening closely and carefully to what they say about everyone else.
    As always, if you want to know what they're doing -- or planning on doing -- just watch what they're accusing us, and ours, of doing.