The late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., would be proud of Matt Bevin, Kentucky's GOP governor, who lost his job to Democrat Andy Beshear on Nov. 5.
The day after he got beat by about 5,100 votes, Bevin resurrected the essence of McCarthyism. He told a bevy of reporters that he knew of "a number of significant irregularities" in the election, but refused to provide proof, wroteNPR's Miles Parks.
In the 1950s, McCarthy, one of the rankest demagogues in Senate history, accused a lot of Americans of being communists, but offered no evidence. He ended up deservedly disgraced. The Senate censured him in 1954; he died three years later.
Bevin is no slouch at demagoguery himself. His presser was vintage McCarthy. The idea is to make a headline-grabbing accusation--no matter how baseless--hoping John and Jane Q. citizen will focus on it and not the dearth of proof to back it up.
Bevin also informed the Fourth Estaters that, "we're in the process of getting affidavits--and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did nor did not happen," according to Parks. "We know there have been thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted."
"Thousands of ballots." No proof. More McCarthyism.
Bevin is so desperate to keep his job that he wants Kentuckians to join him in questioning a demonstrably free and fair election.
Bevin is so desperate to keep his job that he wants Kentuckians to join him in questioning a demonstrably free and fair election. Never mind that free and fair elections are the foundation of representative democratic government everywhere. Forget that he's deliberately feeding cynicism and distrust of our fundamental institutions. That's McCarthyism and Trumpism.
(Bevin dotes on The Donald, who came to Kentucky to stump for the governor on election eve.)
Like Trump, Bevin is getting a boost from far-right-wing Twitterverse. After the polls closed, "@Overlordkraken1" tweeted to his 19 followers the he'd “just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots," wroteMatthew Rosenbergand Nick Corasanitiin the New York Times. "For those eager to cry fraud as a reliably red state leaned blue, the fact that @Overlordkraken1 did not appear to be in Kentucky — Louisville was misspelled in the location tag on his tweet, for one thing — was not going to get in the way of a useful narrative. Nor was Twitter’s decision to suspend his account."
Anyway, Bevin still refuses to concede defeat. Tomorrow, he'll get his re-canvass, which basically means re-checking the math. Odds are, the total won't change much, if at all.
But if Bevin doesn't like what the re-canvass reveals, he can appeal to the state legislature to overturn the election.
The GOP has super-majorities in the state House and Senate. At first, Bevinite bigwigs in The Ledge looked amenable. But their ardor seems to have cooled.
Bevin's charges of "irregularities echo the Trump playbook," Rosenbergand Nick Corasanitialsowrote. "Mr. Trump has sown doubts about a 'rigged election' system since before his own election, including openly questioning the mail-in ballot process in Colorado. He then contended that fraud had lost him the popular vote (which Hillary Clinton won by 2.9 million votes). And he has amplified similar theories while in office, tweeting at least 40 times about unfounded voter fraud allegations, according to an analysis by The New York Times, including a claim after the midterm elections last year that 'many ballots are missing or forged' in Florida."
The Times scribes concluded, "Such divisive rhetoric after close elections has always risked shaking public faith in essential democratic institutions. But in a profoundly polarized country where narrow margins are hardly uncommon, sophisticated networks of social media users — human and bot — can quickly turn partisan rancor into grave threats, rapidly amplifying disinformation and creating an initial veneer of vast discord that can eventually become self-fulfilling."
You can bet that Trump is keeping close tabs on Kentucky and that if he loses next year, he'll cry "rigged election" with no proof. McCarthy would be popping his buttons over Trump, too.