A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
Big lie – Wikipedia
That’s the thought that immediately came to mind after VP-elect Mike Pence made several appearances yesterday repeating the mantra that Donald Trump won in a “landslide.”
On Face the Nation: ” As I’ve said, Donald Trump won a landslide American. The American people spoke decisively.”
He repeated the statement in another interview:
“I joined this campaign in the summer, and I can tell you that all the contact by the Trump campaign and associates was with the American people,” Pence said. “We were fully engaged with taking his message to make America great again all across this country. That’s why he won in a landslide election.”
This “landslide” claim is disturbing because it is factually, demonstrably untrue. Since that has been pointed out repeatedly, it has to be considered a lie. An intentional lie. And a blatant lie told as part of the incoming administration’s policy.
First, there’s the little problem that Trump lost the popular vote. More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. There’s no dispute about that.
As CNN reported earlier:
The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
And, second, is electoral college margin was far from a landslide.
But it turns out that the percentage of electoral votes won by Trump, 56.9 percent, is hardly a landslide by historic comparison.
John Pitney, a professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College, put together a chart showing the Electoral College share won by every president since George Washington and found that Trump’s margin of victory ranked 46th out of 58 U.S. presidential elections.
“It’s just not true,” Pitney said of Trump’s “landslide” boast.
From the New York Times: “Trump’s Electoral College Victory Ranks 46th in 58 Elections”
Trump repeated the landslide claim on Monday after the Electoral College voted to put him over the 270-vote threshold needed to secure the White House.
Even Abraham Lincoln won a greater percentage of electoral votes (with 59.4 percent) than Trump in the 1860 election, when the country was on the brink of the Civil War.
In fact, Trump ranks 46th out of 58 in terms of winning the electoral vote — a spot far down on the list, sandwiched between Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy’s narrow 1960 win.
And the same point made by NPR:
Comparing Trump’s 306 electoral votes to recent history, he falls between the 2000 and 2004 razor-thin margins of George W. Bush, and Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.
2000 — Bush 271, Gore 266
2004 — Bush 286, Kerry 251
2008 — Obama 365, McCain 173
2012 — Obama 332, Romney 206
2016 — Trump 306, Clinton 232
So on the historic score, Trump’s margin is pretty average for recent elections, and way down the list if you go all the way back to the beginning of the nation.
So what’s the point of continually repeating a blatant lie that has already been discredited many times over? That’s a question for another day, I think.