Is It Still the ‘Big Lie’ When Democrats Believe It?

President Joe Biden gives his inaugural address in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2021. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters Pool)

Here’s another tidbit from that Washington Post poll that has been weirdly and widely ignored. Question 7:

Regardless of whom you supported in the 2020 election, do you think Joe Biden’s election as president was legitimate, or was he not legitimately elected?

Answer: After a chaotic Covid-era election, 29 percent of Americans don’t believe Biden was legitimately elected. Pretty bad. But not as bad as usual.

In January 2001, the same poll found that 42 percent of Americans didn’t believe George W. Bush was legitimately elected. And in October 2017, 42 percent of Americans didn’t believe Trump had been legitimately elected. A 2018 YouGov poll found that 67 percent of Democrats thought the Russians had tampered with vote tallies, though not a shred of evidence existed to back such a claim. (The Post poll also notes that only 14 percent of Americans believed Barack Obama’s election was illegitimate by 2017, though that number was surely far higher during his terms.)

Attacking the legitimacy of the presidency probably goes back to Jefferson, but it takes uncanny gall for the hysterical people who successfully corroded trust in our elections by convincing tens of millions of voters to believe in a conspiracy theory to act as if today’s reluctance by Republicans to accept results is an exceptionally unprecedented or dangerous moment for “democracy.”

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