The Erosion of Trust
It’s been over a year since Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Many of us thought that, over time, the unfounded belief that the presidential election of 2020 was fraudulent would fade away. Some of us thought that calling the conspiracy theories about the election the “Big Lie,” would strip the claim of its power. But that has proven not to be the case. In some ways, the power of this idea is growing. Almost every Republican candidate for office at every level feels compelled to parrot the Big Lie.
The number of people who believe President Biden’s victory was illegitimate or stolen has held steady, even increasing in some demographics. Polls show that 78% of Republicans and 81% of Trump voters believe that President Biden “did not legitimately win the election.” An alarming plurality of independent voters agree with them. All this, accompanied by GOP efforts to restrict the right to vote and gerrymander their districts, stokes further doubt in the safety and security of our elections. It is clear: calling it the Big Lie is woefully insufficient.
All of this disinformation is causing a fundamental breach in the trust Americans have in our electoral system. If people lose faith in our elections, that undermines their belief in another hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful and orderly transfer of power after an election.
Taking on the Attacks
Aside from calling the attacks on the 2020 election the Big Lie, there is no organized large-scale effort to establish the legitimacy of the last election and to assure Americans of the legitimacy of the next. Resources are being directed toward crucial efforts to fight voter suppression, but virtually nothing is being done to defend the legitimacy of our electoral infrastructure. If we don’t attempt to restore trust in our electoral system, all the efforts to make it fairer and freer will be undermined. We must rebuild the fundamental belief, long taken for granted, that we can trust our electoral system even when we don’t like the results of the election. That’s the foundation and chief guardrail of our democracy.
Voting Counts proposes to create and launch a nationwide advertising campaign to restore trust in our elections. This will involve not only debunking the conspiracy theories around the 2020 election, but pioneering new ways of rebuilding trust in our election system. If we can erode — even by a few points — the level of support for the Big Lie – and can increase — even by a few points — confidence in our electoral system, we can reshape our current political landscape.
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