Right to the point: First, we should do everything we can to get conservative policymakers clearly on record in support of “The Big Lie.” Second, call it “The Big Lie” even after you’re sick of repeating that moniker. This could, by itself, make the difference in the 2022 elections and even trigger a permanent realignment of voters. Why?
As you surely know, about 70 percent of Republicans believe the Big Lie that Joe Biden “did not legitimately win enough votes to win the presidency.” Less publicized is that fact between 23 and 33 percent of Republicans and about 70 percent of Independents believe Biden legitimately won.
The 2022 elections will be so close that if just a small slice of these reality-based Republicans and Independents switch to voting for Democrats (or they stay home), it could turn 2022 into a progressive landslide.
This is totally doable. A recent focus group of swing voters for Axios found that nearly all of them would rule out “backing any candidate who clings to the former president’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.” An in-depth study found that this conflict drops the GOP about 6 points, which is enough to lose the party dozens of congressional elections and hundreds of legislative seats.
To that slice of thinking voters, it makes sense to abandon candidates who are Big Liars because they can’t possibly be trusted to follow a political philosophy, support democracy, or simply tell the truth.
To make this work, our side needs to proactively get conservative policymakers on the record with two questions: (1) Do you think Donald Trump was the victim of some kind of vote fraud which caused him to lose the presidency; and (2) Do you think the demonstrators who entered the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 were mostly Trump supporters acting illegally or not? These questions have to be pressed before the next Republican primary election or, like Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, candidates will remain vague.
Let’s turn to messaging. The phrase “The Big Lie” is terrific framing. It is completely truthful, easily understandable, and refreshingly short. (Nobody can say, “yes, I’m for The Big Lie.”) And it’s already accepted language among the mainstream media, including: the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, Newsweek, and many more. So, when you say “The Big Lie,” you’re not pushing against a brick wall.
Although most voters don’t understand the connection, saying The Big Lie also lets us ease into a conversation that compares Trumpism with Fascism. The fact is, the fundamental elements of Trumpism – prejudice against minorities, grievance by the majority, contempt for democratic institutions and the press, and use of violence – are also the fundamentals of Fascism. (More about that in another column.)
You may get tired of using the same language all the time and want to move to something else. Please don’t. The only way for this simple message to sink in with that slice of Americans who could be persuaded is by repetition, at least from now until the 2022 election.
We can be sure there will be many opportunities to talk about The Big Lie over the next year and a half. Almost every time Trump says something, he directly or indirectly repeats The Big Lie! Almost every time one of the never-Trumpers or reality-based Republican officials puts out a message, it will at least indirectly remind people of The Big Lie. And there are hundreds of upcoming prosecutions for the January 6 insurrection which will make news.
It’s a huge opportunity we shouldn’t pass up.