Le Devoir in Arizona: Republicans add fuel to polarization fire

Like kerosene to take off planes, lies have become a very good fuel to give wings to polarization. As proof: last week in the United States, thousands of Americans went wild on social media to denounce the odiousness of an alleged policy of the Biden government aimed at reducing the consumption of beef by 90% in order to reduce by half the production of greenhouse gases.

The outrage of the burger-eaters and barbecue enthusiasts, many in this country, was easy to predict. Even if this measure has never, ever, been considered by Washington in its plan to fight against climate change.

Yes, a scientific study by the University of Michigan and Tulane University did indeed establish, on April 30, 2020, this statistical link linked to the decline in the consumption of red meat. But, no, Democrats have never expressed any intention to ban beef consumption, as many in Ordinary Anger Digital Echo Chambers have claimed. In contradiction with the facts. A new time.

Indignant in order to polarize and thus better to reign. The mechanics, amplified by social networks, are not new. And it is the one that the Republicans of Arizona decided to exploit again a few days ago, by relaunching, in the controversy, a new forensic verification of the vote in Maricopa County, the most populous of Arizona. It is the one that encompasses the greater Phoenix area. This county alone accounts for some 2.1 million of the 3.3 million ballots cast in this state last November. Joe Biden won Arizona over Donald Trump by a slim lead of 10,000 votes.

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The passage of Arizona, longtime Republican land, in the Democratic camp has fueled the accusations of election rigging launched by Donald Trump. Conspiracy theory that state Republicans seek to keep alive with this verification still.

“We are in front of a desperate gesture, summarizes in an interview the political activist Eddie Espinoza, who speaks regularly in the pages of theArizona Daily Star of Tucson. The legitimacy of the Arizona vote result has been recognized by state electoral bodies and courts. What tipped the scales was the mobilization of the Latin vote and the African-American vote against Trump and demographic change. Arizona is rejuvenating and liberalizing as a result of immigration from California and major cities in the American Midwest attracted by the local climate. “But the Republicans obviously do not want to let go here, to consolidate their base,” he adds.

A CNN poll on Friday found that 30% of Americans believe, five months after the presidential election, that Joe Biden’s election was fraudulent. In comparison, only 10% do not believe that men walked on the Moon in 1969. This belief in rigged elections is shared by … 70% of Republican voters, indicates the probe launched between the 21st and last April 26.

Strategic factor

That this verification of the vote, more than 100 days after Joe Biden came to power, occurs in Arizona is no coincidence for Eddie Espinoza, who points to the whimsical radicalism of Republicans in his state. “The party is led by Kelli Ward, who promotes all of the conspiracy theories that contributed to Trump’s rise,” he said.

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The leadership of Ward, a family doctor, was also strongly contested by party members last February. They demanded his resignation, accusing him of not doing enough to protect Arizona from invented voter fraud.

“Republican elected officials must do two things right now to get by,” said Democrat strategist Robert Lehrman in an interview with the Duty. First, they need to appease a still powerful Donald Trump to prevent him from backing another candidate in their races for re-election. Second, they have to give him the illusion that they are still loyal to him, ”which the Arizona vote verification helps do, he says. Polarization is also a good source of mobilization.

The party is led by Kelli Ward, who promotes all the conspiracy theories that contributed to Trump’s rise

Last week, by way of a press release, the former president also welcomed the approach of the Republican senators from Arizona who triggered this “audit”. In passing, he vilified “the Left Radical Democratic Party” for its opposition to this verification. “They don’t want it because they know they lost Arizona, like other fraudulent ballots in other states,” he said.

2022 in the viewfinder

In 2022, Arizona Republicans will face the renewal of the seats of senator, governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, director of public education, in a state where the electorate is less and less favorable to him.

“Maintaining the big lie of electoral fraud is their last resort to stay in power,” said Eddie Espinoza. That and the law change underway in the state to curtail the right to vote for minorities, who overwhelmingly voted for Democrats in the last election. “

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The forensic verification of the vote in Arizona is expected to take “several weeks” with no specific date for completion. She was called “grotesque” Sunday by Republican Cindy McCain, widow of charismatic state politician John McCain. On Monday, Republican Liz Cheney, number 3 of the party, also claimed that these unfounded accusations of electoral fraud “poisoned [le] democratic system ”.

The audit comes as, last Friday, the ultra-conservative news outlet Newsmax, a major promoter of the electoral fraud conspiracy, formally apologized for promoting “unsubstantiated accusations” that a Dominion employee Voting Systems had organized vote rigging using company-designed voting machines in several states. This conspiracy theory was also defended by Rudolph Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, the day after the presidential election, who is also being sued by the company for defamation.

This report was funded with support from the Transat International Journalism Fund The duty.

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