Those who object to how the 2020 election turned out can blame the nation’s English departments.
Many people snickered at the claim made in Texas v. Pennsylvania that there is only a one in a quadrillion chance that Joe Biden won all the swing states as currently claimed. The true meaning beneath the statistic is simple: the vote counts certified in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia are fake, so let’s cut through all the noise and decide what to do next. “One in a quadrillion” is a rarified way of saying it just didn’t happen.
Texas’s case was shot down because in the United States both grammar and logic have been overtaken by rhetoric.
The old trio: Grammar, logic, and rhetoric
Rhetoric is not the same thing as logic or grammar. Philosopher Richard Weaver championed rhetoric as a tool to share truth rather than skirt it. But ever since the ancient birth of “sophistry,” there have been rhetoricians who see logic and grammar as disposable tools to support a primary rhetorical agenda. (Some call this, basically, propaganda.)
When people ask you, “how can 95% of doctors be wrong?” or “how can all the courts be wrong?,” you should keep in mind that the overemphasis on rhetoric has been universal in colleges since the 1980s, even in Christian and conservative colleges. Professional degrees in medicine and law followed undergraduate degrees in which rhetoric, rather than literature, was used to teach people writing. This was the fruit of the endless battles over “general education” requirements.
Consider some stupid ideas that have attained a consensus in the worlds of medicine and law.
The same medical community that concluded that racial justice rallies were not dangerous during a COVID pandemic but patriotic rallies were also concluded that there is no purpose to indicating on birth certificates whether someone is male or female.
The Supreme Court (even with its mythical conservative majority) that decided, indirectly, that birth certificates can be issued showing two fathers and no mother has also claimed that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not mean that citizens in all states have equal protection of their voting rights (see here). To come up with the latter, they appealed to the question of “standing” — which is a rhetorical move rather than a rational or logical examination of the claims put forward by Texas.
So, now, the faux consensus on election fraud
Many liberals who insist there is “no evidence” of election fraud refer us to the fact that so many courts have rejected lawsuits filed by people alleging fraud. From this trend one can conclude two things.
First, it is commonplace in the United States for people to confuse credentials for evidence, and therefore to think a summary of what credentialed authorities say about evidence is as good as, or better than, or the same thing as, a summary of evidence. They believe such things because they have been taught to think rhetorically — asking what is most persuasive — rather than logically (what is actually true) or grammatically (what is rational).
Second, courts are run by the most educated people in America, which means they went to colleges where rhetoric was literally forced on every student and logic and grammar were systematically devalued. Every composition and rhetoric teacher in English 101 begins by telling students to consider their audience before writing an essay.
Judges are the teacher’s pets who always did what their composition teacher told them; that is how they got straight As and rose up the ranks of respectable society. So while their audience is vesting all their authority in judges, the judges are doing what rhetoricians taught them. They are basing their rhetorical responses on what their imagined audience wants to hear. Liberals — those who most resemble their English 101 teachers from college — are the audience that judges have in mind when they write their opinions. In citing judges, liberals are merely stating their own rhetorical position through deceitful ventriloquism, which has nothing to do with the facts or what a reasonable person would conclude from looking at facts.
The rhetorical reading of election fraud claims
In a world where rhetoric has replaced logic and grammar, standards and thresholds become easily adapted to the “situation” and “audience.” I compiled a list of questions that election fraud-deniers cannot answer logically or rationally here.
With grammar now deemed less important than rhetoric, terms such “beyond a reasonable doubt” can seamlessly turn into “a strong case in response to one particular reasonable doubt.” The audience has no clear understanding of conjunctions, prepositions, articles, or subordinate clauses. One can transform any phrase rhetorically into the opposite of what it means grammatically.
Grammar is key to ratios and therefore to mathematical reasoning. The ratio of Joe Biden votes to total votes is not the same as the ratio of Joe Biden votes to Trump votes. Votes counted divided by votes cast is not the same ratio as votes cast divided by votes counted. People who have no command of grammar have no real defense against propagandists. Skilled rhetoricians can construe “preponderance of” to mean “convincing possibility in.”
A video emerges of Georgia workers throwing out Republican poll-watchers based on false claims about a broken water pipe, then surreptitiously scanning ballots taken from a hidden suitcase. The fact that authorities lied, threw out observers, and then did things they were not legally entitled to do shows a preponderance of evidence that they committed an election crime. People who committed one election crime would probably be capable of committing another election crime (reporting fake results), so their credibility as witnesses should be received with suspicion.
The audience trained to think rhetorically will interpret these facts irrationally (that is, against the “ratio”). There exists one possible explanation — they were just putting away papers and doing some regular housekeeping. This excuse is far-fetched but comforting to some. The audience sees the preponderance of evidence favoring the anti-Trump position because of the irresistible option to see the image as innocent rather than incriminating. Within the evidence, there exists a possibility — they weren’t scanning ballots, but doing some other wholesome paperwork after hours — and the innocent possibility sounds more convincing to the audience. So even this obvious video evidence is “debunked” and deemed “not credible,” despite the fact that affidavits signed by Republican poll-watchers before they knew of the video’s existence matched the events and timing caught on video, while the Georgia state officials made statements that were completely disproved by the video.
In the ungrammatical and illogical world of rhetoric, the fact that an election authority broke one law and got caught can be interpreted as proof that he didn’t break other laws and therefore merits credibility as a witness. How does this work? The audience likes the suggestion that if such people had committed more crimes, they would have been caught engaging in them (a presumption that runs utterly against the reality that people are usually creatures of habit). The fact that these accused parties are actively preventing any investigation that would reveal more crimes is then taken rhetorically as proof that they must be innocent.
The Los Angeles Times, for instance, argues that the election fraud of 8,000 ballots in the small city of Hawthorne proves that national fraud could not affect the outcome of a presidential race. This too baffles a rational reader. The officials at the Times say that if a scheme involving 8,000 ballots could be caught, then a much bigger scheme would certainly come to light. But the Hawthorne case runs counter to the repeated pre-election claim by liberals that election fraud was close to nonexistent in the United States. There are countless reasons why a small crime ring in Hawthorne might be discoverable while larger conspiracies might involve people shrewd and powerful enough to cover up what they did. The main lesson learned is that the liberals were wrong about the nonexistence of fraud before. Yet they emerge from the Hawthorne scandal with more credibility.
This is an utterly irrational application of “credibility as” a source of information on election fraud. We see the same trend with digital forensics. Since the perceived audience doesn’t understand grammar or ratios, its members look at two irrefutable facts — (a) we have done digital forensics on only one county’s tabulation system representing less than 1% of the ballots counted by a certain software company, and (b) in that one county, we found erroneously reported data that falsified the winner of the presidential election — and they conclude that fewer than 1% of the ballots could have been falsified and the election should stand. Proven fraud proves that no fraud happened.
Hence, a liberal will be confronted with evidence that, let us say, 9,000 dead people’s names appeared on the rolls as having voted, and the liberal will mention that one person was incorrectly reported as dead. To the liberal, the “preponderance of evidence” standard has been met for a Biden win because one mistake by the Trump team overturns all Trump’s findings, but one convincing excuse from the Biden team (even if it is still speculative) overturns an infinite number of proven Trump claims.
When shown video of Democrats affixing boards over windows to prevent observers from seeing them count ballots, liberals claim that this disproves fraud because no observers can state that they witnessed any illegal activities during the tabulation process. The fact that the Democrats were bold enough to hide possible crimes from observers looks to liberals like proof that they must not have committed any crimes.
Logic involves the use of reason to examine different claims and decide which one is most plausible or certain. Grammar involves the effective use of language to convey meanings honestly and efficiently.
Rhetoric is different. It is the art of argumentation, a “craft” tailored to the goals of the speaker and his audience. A good rhetorician can convince an audience of a certain proposition even if the proposition is false. Good logicians and good grammarians will not fall for the tricks of a good rhetorician.
By the 1990s, people who received Composition/Rhetoric Ph.D.s overwhelmed Ph.D.s in literature, philosophy, and linguistics, largely because it was so easy to place graduates of Composition programs. Almost every university requires that all students take a distribution requirement in writing. Composition/Rhetoric programs marketed their grads as uniquely trained to run them.
We now live with the result of bad education. To believe in Biden’s win, we would have to believe that since nobody has given a clear reason for the simultaneous stoppage of vote-counting in key swing states, no nefarious reason could exist for it. We would have to believe that Republican observers were expelled in multiple districts simply because all the election officials were in the same bad mood. We would assume that all affidavits provided by Trump’s team are lies, but all statements provided by Biden’s team are truthful. We would have to believe that millions of voters who favored Biden by breathtaking margins mailed in their ballots late enough that they arrived after the Election Night, to be counted with no observation, but no large contingent of Trump voters mailed in ballots on such a late date. We would have to believe that Democratic activists who support amnesty for people who defrauded immigration processes or asylum claims, and who spent four years equating Trump to Hitler, would miraculously show restraint and report nothing but honest vote totals. We would have to believe that honest mistakes caused the computer glitch in a Michigan county, but nowhere else, even though authorities are actively preventing the Trump team from inspecting the software and hardware.
That anybody believes that the Biden win was certifiable is a sad irony. That half the country believes it is an indictment against our nation. As a former English professor, I say, give credit where it is due. Blame the English departments.