A fake report of fraud on Election Day is an excuse to get people to cheat, "to keep things fair."
Markos's recent front page story talks about how rumors are flooding the field that Democrats are busing in people from Detroit (always an appeal to racism, huh?) to vote in Wisconsin. Those theories are absurd and will be proven so (for lack of any credible evidence) in time.
That doesn't matter, though. They're supposed to have their effect today. Right now. But on whom?
Not so much on voters; most voters aren't going to swallow them. Some people might, though -- some critical people. Such rumors are designed to lower the inhibitions of people who will be asked to cheat to "even the score". That's how it usually goes. That's what I think is happening now.
I believe that most people are law-abiding most of the time -- but that people have a deep and strong aversion to being taken advantage of. If you think that the other side in a contest is cheating, you're more likely to cheat yourself -- to decide that the contest has descended to a level where the rules don't apply, so there's nothing wrong with one's not being bound by them.
Add to that the social pressure exerted by others who say "my God, haven't you heard, they're cheating -- AREN'T YOU GOING TO HELP DEFEND US?" and it takes an exceptionally strong person to say "no." Those who enlist people in such a conspiracy to "balance things out" rely on their being weak enough, at just the right moment, in the face of just enough pressure, to go along with whatever they suggest.
The more that people tend to fall in line -- the hallmark of the Right as opposed to the Left -- the easier this is to accomplish.
Do I think that Democrats should cheat because I think that Republicans may use this sort of "bloody shirt" to try to convince people to cheat? HELL NO! If they catch us doing one thing, it will get more press, and will echo for years, than a thousand things that we can eventually show that Republicans did. That's just our society. If you're on the side of the poor and weak against the rich and powerful, you're going to face it, even while you don't accept it. We have to play fair.
But we can also appeal to others' sense of fairness, because most people are not ideological. Spread the word, like Markos is doing: there are baseless rumors going around of Democratic cheating and they are entirely false.
But then connect the dots: "We're afraid that Republicans are going to try to use this to get their own people to cheat to even the score -- and we need you to help stop them."
How does one stop them? I leave those tactics to those in Wisconsin. But I'll tell you one little tidbit I know from my years in social psychology: people are less likely to cheat if they are looking into a mirror.
I don't know if one can bring hand mirrors into polling booths in Wisconsin, but I'd be tempted to. I'd be tempted to hold one up in front of a poll worker and say:
"Someone today might try to convince you that it's all right to cheat. Please look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that it is never all right to cheat -- and never all right to let others get away with cheating."Maybe that's too strong of a dose of medicine for this situation, but that's what I'd feel like doing. And then tonight, if we narrowly lose, I'd flood the state with people holding mirrors, telling them that confession is good for the soul.