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By John William O’Sullivan, First Things, Dec. 14, 2020
John William O’Sullivan writes from Dublin, Ireland.
A recent poll showed something that is not getting the attention it deserves in American politics. When asked whether they believed there was voter fraud in the 2020 election that helped Joe Biden win, 75 percent of Republicans replied in the affirmative. The poll also indicated that this is not a strictly partisan issue; 40 percent of independent voters concurred.
Left-leaning pollsters have chalked this up as another partisan quirk, similar to “birtherism.” But this is different. Birtherism was a crude way to call a disliked president into question. Election fraud calls the system itself into question.
Commentators have been quick to dismiss this. Ross Douthat at the New York Times, for example, recently published an article in which he constructs three pseudo-Weberian “psychological types” that believe in election fraud. One of the psychological types stood out both in form and content: the “outsider intellectual,” which he defines as an extremely smart person “whose self-identification is bound up in constantly questioning and doubting official forms of knowledge.” Douthat believes that the outsider intellectuals are fooling themselves by engaging in confirmation bias—latching on to various “inevitable anomalies” and taking these as evidence of fraud. …
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