How to Demolish the Arguments of Election Rejectionists
A mock argument with Ted Cruz to highlight bogus political arguments
Despite the Capitol Riots clearly showing the danger of perpetuating baseless election fraud claims, many GOP politicians continue to do it. Their positions seem compelling on the surface but are actually ridden with flawed logic and rhetorical tricks.
So for fostering a positive political conversation, it is important for us to develop an awareness of how they do this, so we can filter out these attempts to manipulate public perception. Of course, politicians from all parties do this kind of thing. But for illustration, I will show how the flaws in Mr. Cruz’s objection to the Electoral College certification, given in a speech on January 6, 2021, can be easily exposed.
Me and Mr. Cruz
We’ll use this publically available transcript. Here we go!
We gathered together at a moment of great division, at a moment of great passion. We have seen and no doubt we’ll continue to see, a great deal of moralizing from both sides of the aisle. But I would urge to both sides perhaps a bit less certitude, and a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis. Recent polling shows that 39% of Americans believe the election that just occurred, “was rigged.” You may not agree with that assessment. But it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country. I would note it is not just Republicans who believe that. 31% of independence agree with that statement. 17% of Democrats believe the election was rigged. Even if you do not share that conviction, it is the responsibility, I believe of this office to acknowledge that as a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future.
You have cherry-picked and manipulated the data. In the survey you reference, the statement was “are you concerned the election was rigged” not “do you believe the election was rigged?” Luckily, there was a more appropriate question covered later in the survey, where the respondents were asked if the election was "the result of illegal voting or election rigging?" To that question, a much lower number was given, which was also consistent with other polls.
Analysis by PolitiFact rated your assertion as “Mostly False.”
So, the entire basis of your argument is flawed, and we could stop there. But let’s continue anyway.
I want to take a moment to speak to my Democratic colleagues. I understand. Your guy is winning right now.
At this point in the election process, Biden has already won. All that is happening now is to determine if the state’s submissions are clear and proper. You are misconstruing the process by trying to insinuate there is some decision about the outcome to be made, which there is not.
If Democrats vote as a block, Joe Biden will almost certainly be certified as the next president of the United States.
I want to speak to the Republicans who are considering voting against these objections. I understand your concerns, but I urge you to pause and think, what does it say to nearly half the country that believes this election was rigged if we vote? Not even to consider the claims of illegality and fraud in this election.
Well, what does it say to the larger half of the country if you now attempt to overturn the election after those alleged claims of “illegality and fraud” have already been thoroughly considered by the appropriate courts and state bodies responsible for the election? You are creating a red herring by trying to divert attention from the bigger picture. What you are doing right now is telling the much larger number of voters—which even your own flawed interpretation of the survey shows is the bigger group—that a free and fair election can be stolen based on political muscle and completely baseless lies.
And I believe there’s a better way. The leaders just spoke about setting aside the election. Let me be clear, I am not arguing for setting aside the result of this election. All of us are faced with two choices, both of which are lousy. One choice is vote against the objection. And tens of millions of Americans will see a vote against the objection as a statement that voter fraud doesn’t matter, isn’t real and shouldn’t be taken seriously. And a great many of us don’t believe that.
What? As stated previously, many more millions of Americans will see certifying the vote as proof the system works, and, since no credible evidence of fraud has ever been presented why should you take it seriously? The notion that you are somehow representing these voters with legitimate concerns is preposterous. The President, yourself, and many other right-wing politicians and pundits have fostered this erroneous belief. If a large number of people believed the moon landings were fake or that non-whites should be expelled from the country would you also be supporting that? What sense does it make represent evidence-less conspiracy theories in Congress regardless of how many people believe them?
On the other hand, most, if not all of us believe we should not set aside the results of an election just because our candidate may not have prevailed.
And yet, that is what you are trying to do. This is a performative contradiction. You are saying that you believe the results should not be set aside just because your guy lost while at the same time you are trying to do just that.
And so I endeavored to look for door number three, a third option. And for that, I look to history to the precedent of the 1876 election, the Hayes Tilden election where this Congress appointed an electoral commission to examine claims of voter fraud, five house members, five senators, five Supreme Court justices, examined the evidence and rendered a judge judgment.
You are misconstruing history. The situation you reference was completely different. In particular, there were conflicting sets of votes. According to National Geographic,
As a result, the [State of Oregon] submitted two competing certificates of the final electoral vote tally, one signed by the Democratic governor that showed two votes for Hayes and one for Tilden, and another signed by the secretary of state that showed three votes for Hayes.
In 1877, a congressional decision was needed. Which votes should be accepted was not clear. In the current case, the votes are clear and unambiguous.
And what I would urge of this body is that we do the same. That we have pointed electoral commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit, consider the evidence, and resolve the claims. For those on the democratic aisle who says, say there is no evidence, they’ve been rejected, then you should rest and comfort if that’s the case. An electoral commission would reject those claims. But for those who respect the voters, simply telling the voters, go jump in a lake. The fact that you have deep concerns is of no moment to us, that jeopardizes, I believe the legitimacy of this in subsequent elections.
The results have already been vigorously vetted. How is another investigation, after the process is completed, going to inspire any confidence? The people who believe in election fraud are doing so without any credible evidence. They believe it is real because you and your allies keep telling them there is a fraud. The solution is to tell them the truth, not give their false belief a bigger stage.
The constitution gives Congress the responsibility this day to count the votes. The framers knew what they were doing when they gave responsibilities to Congress, we have a responsibility. And I would urge that we follow the precedent of 1877. The Electoral Count Act explicitly allows objections such as this one for votes that were not regularly given.
It gives you the responsibility to confirm the ballots are validly submitted and unequivocal. You have no basis at this stage to question the election process itself.
And let me be clear, this objection is for the State of Arizona, but it is broader than that. It is an objection for all six of the contested states to have a credible, objective, impartial body, here are the evidence, and make a conclusive determination. It would benefit both sides. That would improve the legitimacy of this election.
And so let me urge my colleagues. All of us take our responsibilities seriously. I would urge my colleagues, don’t take perhaps the easy path. But instead, act together. Astonish the viewers and act in a bipartisan sense to say, “We will have a credible and fair tribunal. Consider the claims, consider the facts, consider the evidence.” And make a conclusive determination, whether and to what extent this election complied with the constitution and with federal law.
The Electoral College vote certification is not the time for debate. It’s like bringing up rumors about someone cheating on exams during the graduation ceremony. All of your concerns should have been, and were, brought up before and decided on by the appropriate institutions.
Other Senators versus Mr. Cruz
Okay, that pretty much torched Mr. Cruz. But for extra measure, you can see how prominent Democrats and Republicans agree with me.
Mr. Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator, Senate Majority Leader
Senator Pat Toomey, Republican
Ms. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat
I think it’s pretty clear that Senator Cruz was attacking the election process and therefore democracy itself, which in my opinion would be a major breach of his oath of office. If you agree, consider signing the following petitions to have him removed.