On Monday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) shared a tweet suggesting that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election — but when describing the tactics Democrats used to “steal” the election, he described exactly how democratically free elections work.
In his tweet, Paul cited a Washington Examiner article that explored how Democrats were able to flip Wisconsin from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020.
“How to steal an election: ‘Seeding an area heavy with potential Democratic votes with as many absentee ballots as possible, targeting and convincing potential voters to complete them in a legally valid way, and then harvesting and counting the results,’” Paul wrote.
How to steal an election: “Seeding an area heavy with potential Democratic votes with as many absentee ballots as possible, targeting and convincing potential voters to complete them in a legally valid way, and then harvesting and counting the results.”https://t.co/LwE3MdeWeG
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 27, 2021
Notably, the “steal” that Paul described in his tweet is simply how elections work — the candidate that wins has to convince a plurality of voters to choose them over competing candidates, and to cast their vote in a “legally valid” way.
In October, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau reported that while some election laws and policies should be adjusted, there hadn’t been any widespread fraud affecting the outcome of the state election.
Many observers on social media noted that Paul used the word “steal” in error — and that he was simply upset that Biden won Wisconsin using fair and legal campaign methods.
“If I’m following, you mean Democrats persuade people to vote for us, and then — hear me out here — people vote for us? Yeah, we did that,” wrote Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California).
“This is literally how elections have been legally conducted in America for half a century,” wrote Jason Johnson, a journalism professor and MSNBC contributor. “Sooooo campaigning is ‘Stealing’ when a Republican loses?”
Several social media users observed that Paul’s words were more revealing than he probably intended them to be — and that his tweet demonstrated Republicans’ skepticism toward legitimate voting practices that have been used for decades.
“Not surprising a Republican thinks a normal voting process is stealing an election,” wrote journalist Jemele Hill.
“This sounds like a bit,” said voting rights journalist Daniel Nichanian, “but it’s quite the window into the conservative mind to say that ‘convincing’ people to legally complete a ballot & increasing turnout is election theft.”
Political strategist Dante Atkins agreed. “What Rand Paul is expressing here is the fundamental conservative belief that people in cities intrinsically don’t have the right to have a voice, and that if Democrats win, it’s inherently a flawed result,” he wrote.