Maybe the answer involves your middle finger.
“If Trump manages to pull off an upset in 2020,” he wrote, “it will be as a gigantic rude gesture directed at the commanding heights of American culture.”
“To put it in blunt terms,” he explained, Trump is “the only middle finger available” for many people. It’s a gesture “to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture.”
But even just pretending to think the vote was rigged is effective. Even just indulging the idea that it was stolen from Trump is the new way to stick it to the institutions that draw so much ire from Trump fans.
Overall, only 32% of Americans cited voter fraud, while 60% said Biden won fair and square. But another 6% said they did not know, and 2% volunteered a belief that Biden will not be declared the winner.
This is a widespread emotion among Republicans, driven partly by repetitive TV segments and stories about fraud allegations all across right-wing media.
On Newsmax, the cable channel that has emerged as a challenger to Fox News at certain times of day, the channel’s highest-rated host, Greg Kelly, said Thursday that “this is just the beginning” for Trump. He reiterated, “I do think he’s going to prevail.” Kelly averaged 1.1 million viewers Thursday, a new high for his show.
Where there’s demand for this fantastical programming, there will always be a supply from outlets like Newsmax. They tap into a deep distrust, especially on the right, of anything and everything institutional. And Fox News, despite its constant anti-media commentary, looks like an institution to some people right now.
Trump’s conspiracy theories
Purporting to believe in a vast election-rigging conspiracy is a new path to “owning the libs.” Election denialism is a middle finger — to democracy.
And it leaves me wondering: What are you supposed to meet a middle finger with? A fist bump? An outstretched hand, ready for a handshake, ready to forgive and forget? I’ve been in enough New York City traffic jams to know that one rude gesture is usually matched by another, and another, and some curses, too.
The more I watch and read this fictional universe of information, the more I see that the Trump-era war on truth will be raging long after Biden is president.