Following are some of my thoughts in the aftermath of last week. As always, I welcome your ideas, particularly if you disagree with my thinking.
To the Right –Georgia on my Mind. A friend wrote this week and asked a very good question: How do we know what is true in the current environment?
I thought a lot about that issue because it is so difficult to know truth in today’s world. Do we just believe what we are told because we trust the presenter? Do we mistrust what we are told simply because we dislike or distrust the presenter? I would hope we look for evidence beyond trusting or distrusting the presenter.
I decided to attack the issues by addressing the Georgia presidential election results. The first factor I look for in deciding whether something is true or not is trusting what I see with my eyes. Although all of us have psychological illusions from time to time, and film can be edited, I still trust personal experience as a first measure of what I believe to be true.
Thus, in a widely shown video clip, it is true that people counting votes removed ballot boxes from below tables and counted them. Until recently, the context for what was happening in that clip was provide by Rudy Giuliana and in ads paid for by Trump supporters. They said it was evidence of election fraud.
The issue for me and for all of us is — do I dismiss the interpretation because of the source? Do I accept the interpretation because of the source? Or do I look for other evidence to decide for myself? If available, I encourage all thinking people to look for evidence.
In the Georgia election there is more evidence. The entire tape, not just the clip, is available. The entire tape can be seen to establish a context not revealed in the clip.
I watched it. A description of what was going on was provided by Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who voted for President Trump.
The entire video showed how vote counters were told to go home for the night. They closed and sealed the boxes. They placed them under the tables and headed home. Then they were told to return and finish counting. Thus, they returned pulled the boxes from under the table and returned to counting. One angle showed observers were present.
Since the entire tape was made available to Rudy Giuliani, he gave a very misleading interpretation of the edited clip.
A second factor in determining truth is the source. In this case Brad Raffensperger is a Republican, a Trump supporter; he even contributed to Trump’s campaign. He is someone who would give the interpretation only if he believed it to be true and he had integrity to do what he thought was right. He had no animosity, no political reason to show the tape or give the interpretation he did unless he believed it to be true. He did it at great personal risk as he has received death threats.
I chose to believe him. So, given what I saw and the reliability of the source I have good reason to believe the election fraud interpretation given by Rudy Giuliani and stated in the ads is not the correct interpretation.
A second fraud claim was that thousands of dead voters cast ballots. Georgia cross checks names against death records. The found two cases and are investigating them. Voter fraud? Yes. Thousands of votes? No.
A third claim is that ballots favoring Democrats were run through the voting machines several times. For me a third factor for truth beyond visual evidence and the source of information is statistical evidence. The votes in Georgia were hand counted and compared to the machine count as a check against possible machine fraud. The difference between the hand count and the machine count was extremely rare statistically. Certainly not anywhere near a level to indicate fraud or enough to change results.
Another factor in seeking truth is evidence to support an alternative view. I see none.
Thus, based on visual evidence, the integrity of sources, the statistical evidence and the lack of counter evidence, the truth I accept is — Joe Biden won in Georgia. Any voter fraud or errors were not enough to overturn the result. I will not believe differently just because someone says it is true. I will need to see better evidence than edited video clips.
To the Left — Self-righteousness. I detest the violent attack upon the capital and the rhetoric that contributed to it. To not denounce it is wrong, to contribute to it even worse. I am deeply concerned we will see more.
Denounce yes, but the extreme self-righteousness by some on the left seems hypocritical to me. I am of the opinion that both sides have problems with protesting.
The study of history is made interesting by studying what is and by studying what might have been if different events had occurred. I asked several friends who are Democrats if they thought there would have been violence if Trump had won. Half of them said protests would have occurred but they would be peaceful. The other half thought there would have been violent protests.
If we look at history, in 2011 a non-violent protest by the left led to the month long occupation of the Wisconsin capital building. In 2018 a smaller anti-Kavanaugh protest led to the non-violent take-over of the Senate office building. In May protestors threatened the White House in such a serious manner that the Secret Service moved the President to a bunker retreat. Certainly many violent destructive protests have occurred in cities around the US in the last few years. Often in the name of a good cause but violent and destructive none-the -less.
In my opinion we would have had serious violence if Trump won, probably not the capital building, but across the nation. Too many on the extreme left hate him.
To only be offended by violence and destruction on one side, without condemning all violent protests seems hypocritical to me, therefore I am trying not to be too self-righteous in how I denounce the destruction last week. It was bad but in a sense, there but for the grace of God go I.
As further support for my view consider the following — I have read social media statements by members of the left, that I interpret as inciteful. For example, “Marginalized people have no choice but to riot.” I believe that statement condones, if not incites rioting.
Ironically, if poor white people see themselves as marginalized, then the twitter statement made by the left-wing congresswoman applies to them.
For those who believe only people of color can be marginalized, I disagree and so do many Jewish people. Marginalization is a social/cultural factor not a racial factor. Certainly, many people of color are marginalized, but color is not a necessary condition for marginalization.
An old hymn goes “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Let all of us be peace makers and condemn violence and destruction whenever, wherever and why ever it occurs.
Down the center — Maine on my mind. Now that I have said something about the right and the left, let me put in a good word for the middle. My newest hero is Angus King. I do not have a lot of knowledge about him but my first impression and reports from our grandson who works in Washington DC are very positive.
He is the senator from Maine who is a declared Independent. He is not Independent so he can be further left like Bernie Sanders. He seems to be Independent because he has agreements and disagreements with both sides of the political spectrum. I am impressed by his common sense, openness, thoughtfulness and ability to call it like it is.
The Democrats think they have control of the Senate; I do not get the feeling they have control of him. I am confident he and the other center moderates will have more to say about what passes in congress than the extremes on both sides and that makes me more confident in the future of our nation.
I repeat — if you disagree please let me know your disagreements and why. I am willing to listen and learn.