A day after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, on the heels of the president’s repeated claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, what is the long-term impact of disinformation about American elections?
Ahead of yesterday’s riot, President Donald Trump directed his supporters to the capitol, despite dozens of failed legal challenges to the election’s outcome.
It’s that rhetoric that Quinnipiac University Associate Political Science Professor Wesley Renfro said is partly to blame for the “alternative facts” lens through which many Americans now view the country’s elections.
“There’s a special type of relationship between Donald Trump and his most hardcore followers. It's deep. I think in many ways it borders on religious in nature. People take what he says as near gospel, even in the face of clear evidence,” said Renfro.
He believes the events at the capitol are the latest unfortunate consequence of the free spreading of election misinformation.
“Every president since George W. Bush's election in 2000, there’s been a substantial number of Americans who believe that person has arrived in office invalidly. The Supreme Court win in 2000, the Birther conspiracy in 2008, certainly Donald Trump losing the popular vote in 2016,” Renfro said.
Connecticut Republican Chairman JR Romano said people across political parties are to blame for the heated rhetoric that culminated at the capitol. He also maintains there are questions to be asked about the integrity of all elections.
“I wish in the moment that the president was more stern against some of what’s happening. But I do think we have to have broader discussions on the integrity of voting. If one vote’s stolen, it's one too many," Romano said.