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Reality is an infinitely useful political adversary

Kari Lake lost the election for Governor of Arizona by approximately 17,000 of the votes cast on November 8, 2022.

She lost the election in the public mind when it was called by The Associated Press on November 14. She officially lost when the election was certified on December 5.

She lost the election again on December 24, when a judge dismissed a legal challenge to the results. She lost again on February 17 when her appeal was denied. And she lost again on Monday, when a court rejected her argument that flaws in the mail-in ballot counting process warranted a reconsideration of the contest.

That’s something like six losses in the same contest, if you count. But Lake is as ruthless as she was on Nov. 9, when — after winning Donald Trump’s endorsement by echoing his false claims about voter fraud — she began claiming her own loss was tainted. Following this most recent legal rejection, she retweeted a meme suggesting that the way the mail-in ballots were counted was suspicious.

But let’s leave Lake for a moment. Let’s talk about globes instead.

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Kandiss Taylor also ran for governor last year, finishing third in Georgia’s Republican primary. On Monday, a snippet of an interview she conducted with a flat-Earther — that is, someone who claims our planet isn’t round — circulated online.

In it, Taylor endorses the idea that the Earth is flat, not citing evidence but pointing to the ubiquity of representations of a non-flat Earth.

“Everywhere there are globes. You see them all the time,” Taylor said. ” … They are everywhere. And that’s what they do to brainwash.

“To me, if this isn’t a plot, if this is real, why are you pushing so hard?” she added.

You won’t be surprised to learn that despite losing 70 points in the Republican gubernatorial primary last year, Taylor also claimed the election was tainted by fraud.

This globe argument, however, is telling. A normal person would assume that representations of the Earth are round because the Earth is round – and, more importantly, probably wouldn’t even notice many of these representations in their everyday life. Sitting here writing this, I struggle to remember when I last saw a globe.

But Taylor chose to notice them (or chose to pretend she notices them). And in doing so, she became suspicious (or chose to pretend to be suspicious). For what are all globes globes, if not to conceal the truth – that the Earth is not a globe!

Taylor may never have seen a map in Mercator projection, but I digress.

This is how it works. You can still find evidence for your view, given two conditions. First, that you don’t see or are willing to ignore evidence to the contrary. Second, that you have a reason to invest so much in your perspective.

For Lake, this second element is easy to establish. Lake’s entry into politics was based on the idea that the system could not be trusted. Yes, she would have liked to have won the gubernatorial election, but it was no obstacle that she did not. She held the same position on the legitimacy of the elections the month before her defeat and the month after. The November 8 election was not decisive, it was a data point.

In doing so, she did something other losing contestants didn’t: she kept the limelight. On November 8, 2022, Lake had approximately 550,000 subscribers on Twitter. Now she has 1.2 million. Part of this is likely due to Elon Musk inviting conspiracy theorists back to the platform. But it’s partly the countryside of Lake against the establishment – and, more broadly, against reality – continued unabated.

This means that it has fulfilled the first of our two conditions: it eliminates the evidence to the contrary.

We often find it unnecessary to correct errors or provide context for misrepresentations. As a member of the mainstream, true-to-life media, I can confirm that this is often the case. But research shows that is not the case.

The problem is that a lot of people don’t. see fact checks. The splintering of the media universe over the past decade, with the expansion of social media and the emergence of media based on the advancement of partisan agendas, has made it particularly easy to avoid evidence to the contrary.

Lake is immersed in right-wing media. She celebrates — and has raised funds — her rejection of outlets like CNN. She dismisses or ignores the overwhelming evidence that Trump lost in 2020 and she lost two years later. So she frames his failure to become governor not as the legitimate verdict of Arizona voters, but as part of a divine plan to report fraud which obstructed his path.

She and Trump have regularly used the “globes” argument: if there was no fraud, why is the media so eager to point out that there was no fraud? So they beat, boats against the tide of reality, constantly pushed back into the past.

On Monday, Lake teased an impending announcement; she is likely to announce her candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona next year. But she’s already running the same campaign she’s been running for a few years, one against the elites, the know-it-alls and the fake media who all insist that things are the way they are.


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