Tails and Legs and “Fraudulent” Presidential Elections

There’s no single subject I’ve written about more often on this blog, in the nine years I’ve been doing this, than Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps that’s because time and again, examples from Lincoln’s life and times bear a striking relevance to our own.

The disputed (by some) presidential election of 2020 reminds me of a story (as Lincoln would often say, to the consternation of those around him sometimes) that I once read about Lincoln and his young son, Tad.

Lincoln asked his son one day this question: How many legs does a dog have, if you call its tail a leg?

Tad responded, as many people would, that the dog would have five legs in this instance.

But that answer was wrong, Lincoln noted, because calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. The dog would have four legs, as most dogs do.

That story has been told many times through the years, and for good reason. Simply calling something by one name does not make it so.

And yet Donald Trump and his band of misfit lawyers have been doing exactly that, ever since the November 3 election was called for Joe Biden nearly one month ago. They have been calling a tail a leg in courtrooms across this country, but in only a few states where they think a reversal of fortune is possible.

No voter fraud exists in the states he won, of course. Nor could there be any fraud in states like California, New York and Illinois, each of which are more populous than any of the states that Rudy and his band are now contesting.

Fraud! That’s the claim, but there hasn’t been a single example that has yet been proven in a court of law.

There was a lawyer from Florida who claimed to have registered to vote in Georgia for the upcoming Senate runoff election.

And there is also a man in Pennsylvania who requested a mail-in ballot for his mother, even though she died in 2015.

And how about the man who lives in publicly-provided housing in Washington DC, but claims a voting address at a private club in Florida, instead.

But wait, the perpetrators in each of these cases are Republicans. The third example is the president of the United States, if only for a few more weeks. But how could they ever be guilty of voter fraud?

Trump’s lawyers have been claiming that “Democrat-run cities” have fraudulently turned what would otherwise be red states into blue ones, instead.

Never mind that Chicago turns Illinois blue, or that Seattle and its surrounding areas are what makes the state of Washington blue. Those states aren’t a part of Trump’s schemes, nor would they ever be.

Time and again, in each of the states that Trump and his lawyers have targeted, the courts have refused to call a tail a leg. The judges in these states have continued to point out that there are no modern-day Tad Lincolns among their ranks. We should all be grateful for this bulwark against Trump’s authoritarian bluster, but it’s not over yet.

I firmly believe Trump would sooner die than be cast out of the White House to answer for his financial and personal wrongdoings. His desperation will only increase, as the new year approaches and January 20 marks the end of his time in office. Let’s wait and see what develops between now and then. But time is definitely on the side of those, like me, who voted him out just over one month ago.

Hanging on in quiet desperation may be the English way, but it will never be Donald Trump’s way. This means we’re going to be in for a ride like none of us can imagine right now.

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