When You Base Your Position on a Lie, Yes, You are a Liar
And no, there aren't always "two sides to every story."
Senator Rand Paul got a bit wound up on This Week this morning:
The video is worth watching in full, but here are the key elements.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I have to stop you there. No election is perfect. But there were 86 challenges filed by President Trump and his allies in court, all were dismissed. Every state certified the results —
PAUL: Chris, not for —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — after an investigation —
PAUL: Not for — but —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — count (ph), after investigations —
PAUL: — of evidence. They were dismissed —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — counts and recounts.
PAUL: — for (inaudible).
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Department of Justice led by William Barr said there’s no widespread evidence of fraud. Can’t you just say the words, this election —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — was not stolen?
PAUL: Well, what I would suggest is — what I would suggest is that if we want greater confidence in our elections, and 75 percent of Republicans agree with me, is that we do need to look at election integrity and we need to see if we can restore confidence in the elections.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, 75 percent of Republicans agree with you because they were fed a big lie by President Trump and his supporters to say the election was stolen. Why can’t you say —
PAUL: Well, I think —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — President Biden won a legitimate, fair election —
PAUL: — I think where you make a mistake in — hey, George. George. George, where you make a mistake is that people coming from the liberal side like you, you immediately say everything’s a lie instead of saying there are two sides to everything.
PAUL: But you say it’s all lies —
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said something that was not true.
PAUL: You say we’re all liars. You just simply say we’re all liars and —
STEPHANOPOULOS: I said it was a lie —
PAUL: — (inaudible) —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — that the election was stolen.
Here’s the deal.
First, Paul’s inability to forthrightly answer the question, but to just do the “I am just asking questions?” routine is simply disingenuous and, by extension, is perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen.
To say, as Paul did, that “what I would suggest is that if we want greater confidence in our elections, and 75 percent of Republicans agree with me, is that we do need to look at election integrity and we need to see if we can restore confidence in the elections” is a nonanswer and Stephanopolous is correct to point out that those Republicans believe that because they have been lied to.
Again: the source of the belief is Trump and his allies. It was not some independently generated concern.
Second, there aren’t “two sides to every story.” In some cases, there are more than one side, and not just two. In others, there is only one legitimate side.
There is no need to have “two sides” to debate an issue if one side has nothing but allegations and dissembling and the other side has solid facts. If one side is perpetuating a lie, letting the “two sides” debate truth as if both sides have an equally valid position is just a way to perpetuate the lie itself.
You don’t, for example, invite a flat earther to coverage of rocket launches.
Third, Paul, like so many who are perpetuating the foundational lie, blithely shifts from worrying about “fraud” to worrying about whether procedural changes were done properly (and making a series of vague claims). One can dispute whether some procedurals changes were properly executed or not (not that I have seen any legitimate concerns), but that is different than fraud.
Paul conflates a host of issues so that he can pretend like there is a reason to question the outcomes. He hides behind being concerned and wanting “integrity” in the elections.
But, of course, raising baseless concerns about election integrity is a way to undercut confidence in the elections.
It is all like asking someone who has not committed domestic violence if they have stopped beating their wife. The very question creates concerns in the minds of those who hear the question and the person being questioned has no good way to immediately answer (as neither “yes” or “no” is an adequate answer).
Fourth, it is simply dishonest to pretend like there is a bunch of evidence that has not been seen and that all the cases have all been dismissed due to lack of standing. That is, quite frankly, a lie. Some cases were dismissed over standing, but others went nowhere because Team Trump never produced any evidence of fraud.
Indeed, the big lie in right-wing circles at the moment is that the evidence exists, it just hasn’t been heard. Paul is directly perpetuating that lie in this appearance.
There is no way around it: Paul is a liar because he is perpetuating belief in a lie. It is as simple as that whether he wants to get indignant about it on TV or not.