Bill Barr and Donald Trump started months ago citing the “potential” for voter fraud with mail-in voting. Since then, the language has changed to indicating that the election will be a “disaster” and mail in voting “will lead” to not being able to trust the election results. Trump is the master of playing telephone with his language over time; it just evolves from something outlandish to becoming a statement of “alternative facts” the basis of which is without rational thought.
The trick is to start with something factual. There absolutely IS potential for fraud in the way he described originally. The Russians or Chinese could send armies of clandestine agents to steal ballots out of mailboxes and vote for us. Sure that is possible and there is a potential future for that outcome. It is also possible that there are alien bodies at Area 51. It’s possible that Trump is actually an Edgar suit ala Men In Black and a cockroach alien has taken over his body. It’s possible that my neighbor is going to bomb my house. Statistically, almost anything you can dream up is “possible.” That is the nature of probability and the inherent uncertainty about the future. Despite our worst fears, it is possible we could elect a failed businessman, reality TV star, misogynist who was recorded advocating for sexually assaulting women. Oops. It’s possible that he could appoint an incompetent purse designer as a senior white house advisor. It’s possible that I am going to win a $350m lottery.
There are lots of things that are possible. Walking around considering them as probable, is a completely different thing. It’s possible that Luxembourg could invade the US and over-run our military. The thing is, that is so improbable, that it would be completely irrational and irresponsible to even consider it. While a military strategist might cite it, they wouldn’t spend time, money, resources or brain cells planning around this scenario.
Intelligent people weight their attention on things that have a high probability. Citing anecdotal evidence of something that happened (a dead person receiving a ballot) as proof of something being probable, is insane. Social Security and Medicare pay billions of dollars of fraudulent claims every year (aka “waste, fraud and abuse”). But those isolated and wholesale improbable anecdotes don’t lead to a statistical pattern necessitating that we cancel the entirety of Social Security and Medicare. You work those fringe problems until they become statistically insignificant. Every election and every single government program has some sort of fraud. But every single study shows that while election fraud is possible, it is improbable. You are more likely to get struck by lightening than have your ballot stolen by a Chinese agent or dumped in the river.
The point here is that a conspiracy theory wacko can dream up anything they want and then tie anecdotal stories together to ‘prove’ that it is possible. If I write a document and hand it to two friends asking them to read aloud, “Donald Trump likes molesting little boys” then I get to say in an interview, without lying, “People say that Donald Trump likes molesting little boys.” That doesn’t make it true. It only intimates that some anecdote reinforces the improbable possibility. If you want to believe it, then you certainly have that right. There is no law against being a completely gullible moron who is so mentally corruptible that you could get suckered into believing anything. Like believing a guy who lost his inheritance and now has to sell mail order steaks is gonna be a great leader of the (already) great America.
I actually don’t have my original birth certificate. I have a notarized photocopy from the Baltimore County government. You could say that it is possible that it is a fake and that I was born in Kenya. Anything is possible. Think about THAT possibility next time you re-share some conspiracy theory crackpot stupidity.