I believed “the big lie”

My journey to find the truth.

“The Big Lie” was coined to describe the belief that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from President Donald Trump because of alleged massive election fraud.

I was never a big fan of Trump. When I was ministering to University of Arizona (UA) students during the presidential debates before the 2016 election, my opinion was this on who I felt would be a better president: though I did not like Trump, I felt he would be the better choice to run the country than Hillary Clinton.

My opinion of Trump rose when he took office. I appreciated many of his strong stances: illegal immigration, secure borders, that he was tough on crime, was pro-life, pro Israel, pro police, pro business, etc.

I wasn’t a fan of his inflated ego or emphasis on money and obvious materialism. I did like his successful business experience which suggested he understood the important subject of economics and what made a country tick.

As his first term waned, and I learned more of Trump, I began to sour on him. Many compared him to Ronald Reagan, and though there were similarities, Trump is nothing like Reagan.

Reagan did not have the obvious pride (a better word is “arrogance”) that Trump is known for. Reagan had a wonderful sense of humor and used that gift to bring people together and lighten things up. And if politics need anything, it needs to be taken less seriously.

Immediately after Biden was declared the winner, the allegations of election fraud began circulating by Sidney Powell, the one-time attorney of Trump. I never heard of Powell, but when I did a quick google search and learned of her impressive credentials, I threw caution to the wind and believed every word she said.

Here’s a sample:

“[T]he flipping of votes by Dominion is even advertised; their ability to do that fraction, to make a Biden vote count 1.26 and a Trump vote count only .74. They’ve done it before. They’ve done it in Venezuela. They’ve done it in other foreign countries. They’ve done it in this country. We have evidence even that it was done in 2016 in California to benefit Hillary over Bernie, and it’s been done in other local elections and smaller elections, different places . . . . It’s absolutely the most appalling criminal operation in the history of our country.” (Page 8)

I devoured the news of, as Powell stated, the “greatest crime of the century if not the life of the world,” listening to, and reading, information from various right wing sources. I was stunned, trusting Powell because she was an experienced attorney and attorneys simply cannot make things up…they are held to the highest of standards for reporting the facts on any matter. It is what they are trained to do.

Slowing but surely, fact checkers and skeptics of Powell’s claims surfaced. The many lawsuits she filed in various courts were systematically dismissed. Knowing a bit about how courts work, I understood the ramifications of her cases being tossed aside so quickly: she had done something wrong and her facts could not pass the muster of strict evidence standards.

My faith in Powell began to crack, though I remained convinced that the election was stolen. After all, we had videos, did we not, of election workers pulling unauthorized and illegal bins of ballots from underneath tables? And just as damaging, we had multitude affidavits from allegedly reliable sources who swore under penalty of perjury that they witnessed election fraud happening…how could this overwhelming evidence be wrong? In my mind, it couldn’t be; Donald Trump had the election stolen from him and we had a usurper in office.

I thought, “It’s impossible that Trump lost the election. Look at the huge rallies he consistently held throughout the country. Biden hardly campaigned! There is no possible way Biden could have won…” Such is the power of brainwashing, expert lies, fake news, the manipulation of facts by experts, confirmation bias, and not being privy to all the facts.

In my quieter moments of reflection, months after the election when my mind settled and my outraged emotions subsided, I realized I had violated my own standards of thinking. To my embarrassment and shame, I joined the knee-jerk, emotional reactions of other conservatives and failed to perform my due diligence, relying on hype, Sidney Powell, and my natural distrust of liberal progressives and the mainstream media.

Confirmation bias is “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.”

I failed to incorporate into my decision making process concerning this important issue the necessary tools of “critical thinking” and “rational skepticism.”

An example of what I mean by critical thinking can be briefly summed up with the ABC’s of forensic science: “Assume nothing. Believe nobody. Check everything.” This is the mantra of British crime scene manager John Cockram.

It’s hard to admit, looking back, how foolish I was and too trusting of people I never heard of before, like Sidney Powell; a high profile attorney like Powell would have thoroughly vetted her witnesses and triple checked her facts. How wrong I was in trusting her without performing my all important “due diligence”; an amateurish and unacceptable mistake for a man my age.

I have great respect for the rule of law, and though I no longer feel American jurisprudence has maintained its once lofty standards of justice and fairness, I still respect the honorable and vital position the courts occupy in this country.

It’s amazing how easily humans can be duped and the absurd beliefs we can be conned into believing. Because most of us are never taught how to think critically, we are prey to all stripes and sizes of con men and women…many, unfortunately, carrying bibles and other “holy” books and quoting scriptures.

My interest in the study and practice of law, my involvement in numerous lawsuits and legal actions, representing myself as my own attorney, has helped me. I can’t count how many Supreme Court and lower court decisions I have read, and this has sharpened my thinking abilities.

So it was with interest when I read Dominion Voting Systems began filing billion dollar plus lawsuits against many of the people and organizations involved in perpetrating and advancing the “Big Lie.” Here was familiar territory, and I began reading the many legal filings with great interest.

My eyes, to coin an old phrase, were being opened.

I have spent hours reading the legal filings submitted by Dominion and those they sued, along with the court’s various decisions on filed motions. Though the jury is still out on my final decision regarding whether or not Donald Trump should be sitting in the seat of Joe Biden, waiting until the legal process for all of these lawsuits are resolved, I’m convinced the “Big Lie” was precisely that: a big lie. The American people were subjected to one of the greatest frauds of all time that shook the foundations of our democratic republic. It has been nothing short of remarkable and caused me to dive deeper into the shadowy world of conspiracy theories and how a sitting president, Donald Trump, had fallen into this bottomless abyss.

People who make wise decisions in their lives are those who take the needed time to properly discern and weigh truth from error. They know there are at least “two sides to every story” and that we are all prone to immediately choose sides in any conflict and that we are naturally inclined to make emotional instead of rational observations and decisions. “Knee jerk” reactions are—unfortunately—par for the course for emotional beings.

I was taken in by the “Big Lie” and I’m now ashamed to admit this. Swept aside by emotion and the lightning fast pace of Sidney Powell’s and her other co-conspirators (including Trump) in presenting their “facts” to the public, I was duped. Again, I’m embarrassed and ashamed by this.

We all have “Big Lies” that come into our lives that require critical thinking in order to discern truth from error. I believe one of the first steps we all must take before we can become better thinkers is to admit that we are unschooled in the proper way of decoding difficult cases that regularly come into our lives.

Another necessary step is to admit we are prone to making mistakes; this takes humility and a fair degree of self-awareness, necessary for being able to accurately recognize our inherent weaknesses to be biased and emotion driven when it comes to decision making.

For many, being able to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong” is almost impossible. We have such pride in ourselves and in our own abilities that admitting we make mistakes seems beyond the reach of many. This results in leaving behind a trail of hurting, wounded and offended people in our wakes because our arrogance has caused us to wrongly view life’s peculiar circumstances.

Learning the skills and art of critical thinking, then, is a stepping stone to a richer, more fulfilled life that will not only benefit ourselves, but others around us, including those we love the most.