a contest of equals?


I heard an incisive comment by a commentator on one of the cable news stations the other day.

Perhaps Kellyanne Conway should be credited for what the commentator observed.

He noted that there is a new standard for political disputes. Facts and falsehoods are on equal footing if enough people believe in the latter.

Fact: Biden won the 2020 election.

Falsehood: The election was fraudulent. Trump was the real winner.

Under the new “rules,” both are granted equal validity as arguing points. A majority of people — it is probably accurate to say — accept as fact that Biden won. But a substantial number believe that Trump won. Therefore, both positions are valid; and have equal status as talking or debating points, and as political and campaign issues.

It as if  two teams were to engage in a debate. The propositions:  Donald Trump lost the 2020 election  … Trump won the election.  The debating positions of each team are considered equally valid.

So it goes, by some de facto consensus, not according to time honored rules of public discourse.

My team, the Boston Red Sox, were the real winners of the 1977 American League pennant. They deserved to win.



So, to revert to what the commentator was referring to, and to try to make it as clear as possible the absurdity: In politics a situation has now occurred where both sides over issues such as the 2020 presidential election, whether Covid vaccines are safe, etc., believe they have an equal claim to being right, that their views are on an equal footing. Biden won? Trump won? Both are valid positions to hold. Both sides should be given a hearing and taken seriously, because all that matters is that both positions have a substantial number of supporters.

What has become of the clearheaded logic we were taught in school? My grandfather used to say: Never argue about a fact.

You say the president immediately preceding Abraham Lincoln was James Buchanan. No, I say adamantly, you’re wrong. It was Franklin Pierce, and an argument ensues.

A totally pointless argument, as stupid as it would be to argue over who pitched the first perfect game ever.

Just as absurd as arguing over who won the 2020 election. But the Trumpers are not going to give up the argument.

This is a pernicious threat to public (political) discourse and to democracy.


— Roger W. Smith

   January 2020

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