Why 2020 ‘Election Denialism’ Is Not Denialism At All

Why 2020 ‘Election Denialism’ Is Not Denialism at All

By: Tom G.K. Swift

The penultimate stolen-election argument of Democrats is roughly as follows.

Premise 1: Trump says the 2020 election was stolen.
Premise 2: Trump’s testimony is untrustworthy.
Premise 3: It’s unreasonable to accept testimony that’s untrustworthy.

Conclusion: It’s unreasonable to believe that the 2020 election was stolen.

The conclusion doesn’t quite follow, because even if Trump’s testimony were untrustworthy, Dave’s testimony might be trustworthy, even though Dave is another “election denier.” (It’s a sign of Trump Derangement Syndrome that Democrats totally believe arguments like this.) Anyway, this penultimate Democrat argument leads right on to their ultimate argument, in which the conclusion of the first argument becomes a premise.

Premise 1: It’s unreasonable to believe that the 2020 election was stolen.
Premise 2: The unreasonableness of a belief is an indication of the presumptive falsity of the belief.

Conclusion: The 2020 election presumptively was not stolen.

For Democrats and other anti-Trump types, this is the considered (although generally implicit) view, with “presumptively” as a qualifier because that’s what strictly follows from the second premise, and also because it’s necessitated by the woefully inadequate election fraud investigations of the government. The latter alone makes it impossible to justify the stronger claim that the election wasn’t stolen, period.

This argument is, however, little more than a magic trick. Logically, it’s a fallacy.

The informal logical fallacy here is that of begging the question. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy explains that this is where a “circular argument has been used to disguise or cover up a failure to fulfill a burden of proof.” Such a failure occurs when “the conclusion that was supposed to be proved is presumed within the premises to be granted by the respondent of the argument.” (The respondent is the person to whom the argument is addressed.) Question-begging exists if the person to whom the argument is directed would believe one of the premises only if he already believed the conclusion — a magic trick, indeed! Whereas with any “epistemically serious” argument, “there should be a way in which we can learn the truth of the premises,” somebody rightly said.

Obviously, we can’t do that in the Democrats’ ultimate argument. Question-begging precludes the possibility of doing it, even while making the problem seemingly vanish with a wave of the magician’s wand.

Plainly, the special counsel, Jack Smith, is on perilous logical ground in his election case indictments. The premise that it’s unreasonable to believe that the 2020 election was stolen takes for granted that the election presumptively was not stolen, instead of proving it by properly fulfilling the burden of proof. Smith, as an avid proponent of the Democrats’ ultimate argument, is trying to force us to accede to his conclusion (“Don’t be a dummy who thinks the election was stolen”) without making it seem as though he is doing anything argumentatively improper. The fallacy essentially involves using a sophistical tactic to shut off criticism about the conclusion of the argument — namely, that the 2020 election is to be presumed not to have been stolen. The unreasonableness postulate — Premise 1, in the ultimate argument — effectively blocks the demand to find independent evidence. The matter has been decided; to talk of a stolen 2020 election is election denialism. Or so we are supposed to believe, and without any further discussion.

There’s no problem with the second premise of the ultimate argument. The problem entirely concerns the questionable (read: sophistical) relationship between the conclusion and the first premise in that argument. Basically, what that relationship amounts to is “‘Shut up,’ he explained.” There you have Jack Smith in a nutshell.

Such a devious form of argumentation does not necessarily mean that Jack Smith is trying to deceive, but rather that the argumentative tactic he’s using is deceptive, regardless of his intent. (In theory, he could be as pure as the driven snow.) I suspect that Smith’s team is trying to deceive and, along with the entire Democrat party, is forever hiding behind a question-begging fallacy. Even so, the tactic of argumentation is deceptive simply by virtue of being question-begging, and not necessarily because of any nefarious intent.

Now, to say Trump’s opponents’ argument is fallacious is to say it’s null and void. This seriously, and probably fatally, undermines every evidential facet of the election-related case against Trump, from alternate slates of electors to the phone call with Mike Pence. Moreover, it has the same import for Trump’s private actions as it does for his official actions as president. In a brief submitted to SCOTUS two weeks ago, the special counsel urged the Court to allow Trump to be charged as a private actor, should the Court decide that he possesses criminal immunity for his official actions: “At the core of the charged conspiracies,” according to Smith, “is a private scheme with private actors to achieve a private end: petitioner’s effort to remain in power by fraud. Those allegations of private misconduct are more than sufficient to support the indictment.” The question-begging part of this is “petitioner’s effort to remain in power by fraud.”

Keep your eyes on the ball. That’s the ball. The question-begging phrasing varies, naturally, across the Democrat and NeverTrump parallel universes.

It’s truly remarkable how important petitio principii is to the Democrats’ modus operandi. Later on down the road, at trial, the judge must take care to isolate and segregate the Unreasonableness View, as expressed by Premise 1, so that it doesn’t distort the facts (evidentiary findings) and their real significance. This includes weeding out potential jurors who think it’s unreasonable to believe that the 2020 election was stolen. Otherwise, Trump will inevitably, and probably deliberately, be getting railroaded. Thus does philosophy, in the form of informal logical fallacies, enable us to ramp up the attack on Democrat lawfare.

In a strange way, the pervasiveness of the Unreasonableness View among Trump skeptics is a good thing. It means that 61 trial court judges, and the Supreme Court in the election case brought by Texas — where, in every courtroom, the lawsuits were dismissed without proceeding to the merits (the constitutional merits in SCOTUS’s case) — need not necessarily be considered corrupt upholders of the status quo. The Judiciary may simply have unthinkingly bought in to the Unreasonableness View. That, and not corruption, conceivably explains the heedlessness of those judges as to the wild irregularities (to put it mildly) of the 2020 election. Arguments or points of view that are question-begging, or otherwise seriously flawed, can be beguiling, and they can fool anyone.

But while that may be true — it’s the way of all flesh, and we “see through a glass darkly” — it’s still hard to know exactly why the deceptive and sophistical reasoning of the Democrats’ ultimate argument has not been widely mocked and repudiated. Maybe because the Unreasonableness View (Premise 1 of this fallacious argument) has such great political value for Democrats and, to a lesser extent, for some establishment Republicans. The fallacy, which the Unreasonableness View makes possible, says to all purportedly good and right-minded people: do whatever it takes to defeat Trump and save our democracy — even if what it takes is the subversion of reason and logic in the law.

Welcome, banana republic!


The above article (Why 2020 ‘Election Denialism’ Is Not Denialism at All) originated on American Thinker and is republished here under “Fair Use” (see project disclaimer below) with attribution to the author Tom G.K. Swift and americanthinker.com.

TLB recommends you visit American Thinker for more great articles and information.

Read more great articles by Tom G.K. Swift.

Image Credit: Photo in Featured Image (top) by Gage Skidmore (Cropped & background removed) via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.


Related Article by this Author:

The Perverse Roots of Anti-Trump Lawfare


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