Putin’s answers at SPIEF: Ukraine, sanctions and Donbass warfare
TASS has gathered Putin’s answers to various important questions
ST. PETERSBURG, June 18. /TASS/. Russia does not mind Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, but is not ready to forget the 2014 state coup in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, answering to questions during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum’s plenary session on Friday.
The Russian leader explained why the Russian forces do not storm Ukrainian defense lines near Donetsk, but was tight-lipped on the question about red lines whose violation will entail strikes at Ukraine’s “decision-making centers.” He also explained that Russia would be producing “hemp and saddles” if it loses its sovereignty. In his opinion, army and fleet will remain the only security guarantors for Russia.
TASS has gathered Putin’s answers to various important questions.
“Always, when making any decision, you need to identify the main thing. What is the main thing for us? To be independent, sovereign and ensure development for the future, now and for future generations. If we do not have sovereignty, then in the near future we will have to buy everything and we will produce only oil, gas, hemp, saddles.”
On Western goods
Russia will learn to produce goods that are now disappearing from the market as a result of Western sanctions. “They will continue to sell to us packaging and other such things, even telephones and smartphone. But they have never shared and will never share critically important technologies with us.”
According to Putin, many Western companies, at least from European countries, will return to the Russian market and “will be happy to work here.” “I have no doubts about this. Life will make them just do it. And we will not prevent them from doing this, we are open to the whole world.”
“It is pretty clear that the blitzkrieg against our economy has failed. As Mark Twain once remarked, ‘”The report of my death was an exaggeration’,” Putin said.
The Russian president pointed out that European politicians had dealt their economies a severe blow with their own hands. Western sanctions are having a serious negative effect on the global situation, primarily on the food market. “European politicians have landed a heavy blow on their economies. They did it themselves, with their own hands,” Putin concluded
Russia does not mind Ukraine’s accession to the European Union: “The EU is not a miliary organization or a military-political bloc, in contrast to NATO. We have always said, and I have always said that our stance is very consistent and clear in his respect: we have nothing against.”
However, in this case Ukraine risks becoming a ‘semi-colony’ of the West: “It is unlikely that this [EU membership] will lead to the restoration of the lost aircraft industry, shipbuilding, the electronics industry and other critical industries. It is unlikely because the European “greats” will not create competitors for themselves.”
At the same time, Putin criticized the notion that Ukraine’s political elites had made a “civilizational choice” in favor of the West: ” What <…> civilizational choice are you talking about? They stole money from the Ukrainian people, hid it in banks and want to protect it. Here’s the best way to protect it: It’s to say that this is a ‘civilizational choice.’ They started to engage in anti-Russian policies in the hopes that whatever they do, their money will be protected there. And that’s, of course, what, in fact, is happening. Whatever they do, they get away with it. That’s the whole point of the ‘civilizational choice.’”
About military operation
Armed hostilities are always a tragedy, but the special military operation in Ukraine was a forced move. “We were simply pushed toward that line.”
Storming Ukrainian strongholds near Donetsk created eight years ago is inexpedient and efforts are underway to overtake them from the rear, Putin said. “This is because this will lead to large casualties among the attacking forces,” he explained. Systemic work is underway to overtake these strongholds from the rear. “This, of course, will require certain time. Counter-battery fighting is ongoing there,” Putin stressed, adding that the Russian forces had “a huge advantage” in artillery. “We talk about conducting a special military operation and even in this special military operation we must not turn those cities and populated localities that we are liberating into something like Stalingrad.”
Putin preferred to keep quiet when asked about the red lines beyond which strikes against decision-making centers in Ukraine might follow. “As for the red lines are concerned, I will prefer to keep it to myself, because on our side this would imply rather harsh actions against the decision-making centers that I was talking about that you have mentioned.”
On past and future relations with Kiev
Russia will never agree to forget about the bloody state coup in Ukraine in 2014 as it is the root of today’s problems. At the same time, Putin believes that relations between Moscow and Kiev will eventually return to normal. ‘We assume that the situation will normalize sooner or later, and we want all our neighbors to flourish. And then <…> ties will be inevitably restored.”
Recognition and future of Donbass
Russia had every right to recognize the Donbass republics under the UN Charter, in accordance with the Kosovo precedent, and will keep defending interests of Donbass residents. “When Kosovo declared independence, the International Court of Justice, pressured by Western countries, ruled that under the UN Charter, when a country declared independence, there was no need to seek permission from the central government,” Putin said, adding that a precedent had been set then. “It means that the Donbass republics did not have to ask Kiev for permission.”
The region’s future depends solely on its residents: “We will treat their every choice with respect,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who was also present at the session, said his country regards the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics as quasi states and is unlikely to recognize their independence.
On relations with Kazakhstan
“We have allied relations with Kazakhstan. One might say, fraternal ones. We are members of the same defense bloc – the CSTO. Also, we are members of the same economic organization. Will it ever occur to anybody in Russia to spoil relations with Kazakhstan on any issues? This is nonsense. We are interested in strengthening such relations.”
On nuclear threat and security guarantees
When asked at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to comment on the West’s allegations about the threat of a nuclear war and the Third World War, the Russian leader noted that Moscow “hears such rhetoric.”
“Where does it come from? From their own statements. Now and then irresponsible politicians would blurt out something like that, even high-ranking politicians – say, at the level of foreign ministries, the leaders are ranting and raving about it. Are we supposed to stay silent? We are responding correspondingly. As soon as we respond, they would pick on our words and say: look, Russia is threatening us. We are not threatening anyone, but everyone should know what we have and what we will use to defend our sovereignty. These are obvious things.”
Moscow is ready to build relations with all countries, despite of what is happening today, but it will take care about its security on its own: “Solely the Army and the Fleet can be a guarantee of our security.”
On those who are ashamed of being Russian
“Some people say they are ashamed of being from Russia. You know, those ashamed are the people who do not link their own future and life, as well as the future and lives of their children, with our country. They are not ashamed, they are afraid of having problems in regions where they want to live and want their children to live.”
On optimism in global politics
Putin hopes that the situation in global affairs would finally calm down: “We are not happy that some countries may face any negative consequences. We don’t want it. We hope that common sense will ultimately win the upper hand and the situation in global affairs will finally calm down and everyone will respect each other’s interests, and we will be able to operate normally.”
He pointed to a growing controversy in the United States. “If [US] policies remain the same, it will keep growing,” Putin said, adding that he had “great respect for the American people.”
“At the end of the day, relations will become what they should in these countries, in the United States and on the international stage. I am more of an optimist than a pessimist.”.
There is, on the face of it, a fundamental contradiction in the Torah. On the one hand we hear, in the passage known as the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the following words:
The Lord, the Lord, compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness and truth … Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:7)
The implication is clear. Children suffer for the sins of their parents. On the other hand we read in this week’s parsha:
Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin. (Deut 24: 16)
The book of Kings records a historic event when this principle proved decisive. “When Amaziah was well established as king, he executed the officials who had assassinated his father. However, he did not kill the children of the assassins, for he obeyed the command of the Lord as written by Moses in the Book of the Law: ‘Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.’” (2 Kings 14:5-6).
There is an obvious resolution. The first statement refers to Divine justice, “at the hands of heaven.” The second, in Deuteronomy, refers to human justice as administered in a court of law. How can mere mortals decide the extent to which one person’s crime was induced by the influence of others? Clearly the judicial process must limit itself to the observable facts. The person who committed the crime is guilty. Those who may have shaped his character are not.
Yet the matter is not so simple, because we find Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the two great prophets of exile in the sixth century BCE, restating the principle of individual responsibility in strong and strikingly similar ways. Jeremiah says:
In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge. (Jer. 31:29-30)
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die. (Ezekiel 18: 1-4)
Here the prophets were not speaking about judicial procedures and legal responsibility. They are talking about Divine judgment and justice. They were giving the people hope at one of the lowest points in Jewish history: the Babylonian conquest and the destruction of the First Temple. The people, sitting and weeping by the waters of Babylon, might have given up hope altogether. They were being judged for the failings of their ancestors that had brought the nation to this desperate plight, and their exile seemed to stretch endlessly into the future. Ezekiel, in his vision of the valley of dry bones, hears God reporting that the people were saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost.” He and Jeremiah were counselling against despair. The people’s future was in their own hands. If they returned to God, God would return to them and bring them back to their land. The guilt of previous generations would not be attached to them.
But if this was so, then the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel really do conflict with the idea that God punishes sins to the third and fourth generation. Recognising this, the Talmud makes a remarkable statement:
Said R. Jose b. Hanina: Our Master Moses pronounced four [adverse] sentences on Israel, but four prophets came and revoked them …Moses said, The Lord … punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Ezekiel came and declared, “The one who sins is the one who will die.”
In general the sages rejected the idea that children could be punished, even at the hands of heaven, for the sins of their parents. As a result, they systematically re-interpreted every passage that gave the opposite impression, that children were indeed being punished for their parents’ sins. Their general position was this:
Are not children then to be put to death for the sins committed by their parents? Is it not written, “Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children?” – There the reference is to children who follow in their parents footsteps (literally “seize their parents’ deeds in their hands,” i.e. commit the same sins themselves).
Specifically, they explained biblical episodes in which children were punished along with their parents, by saying that in these cases the children “had the power to protest/prevent their parents from sinning, but they failed to do so.” As Maimonides says, whoever has the power of preventing someone from committing a sin but does not do so, he is seized (i.e. punished, held responsible) for that sin.
Did, then, the idea of individual responsibility come late to Judaism, as some scholars argue? This is highly unlikely. During the rebellion of Korach, when God threatened to destroy the people, Moses said, “Shall one man sin and will You be angry with the whole congregation?” (Num. 16: 22). When people began dying after David had sinned by instituting a census, he prayed to God: “I have sinned. I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” The principle of individual responsibility is basic to Judaism, as it was to other cultures in the ancient Near East.
Rather, what is at stake is the deep understanding of the scope of responsibility we bear if we take seriously our roles as parents, neighbours, townspeople, citizens and children of the covenant. Judicially, only the criminal is responsible for his crime. But, implies the Torah, we are also our brother’s keeper. We share collective responsibility for the moral and spiritual health of society. “All Israel,” said the sages, “are responsible for one another.” Legal responsibility is one thing, and relatively easy to define. But moral responsibility is something altogether larger, if necessarily more vague. “Let a person not say, ‘I have not sinned, and if someone else commits a sin, that is a matter between him and God.’ This is contrary to the Torah,” writes Maimonides in the Sefer ha-Mitzvot.
This is particularly so when it comes to the relationship between parents and children. Abraham was chosen, says the Torah, solely so that “he will instruct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” The duty of parents to teach their children is fundamental to Judaism. It appears in both the first two paragraphs of the Shema, as well as the various passages cited in the “Four sons” section of the Haggadah. Maimonides counts as one of the gravest of all sins – so serious that God does not give us an opportunity to repent – “one who sees his son falling into bad ways and does not stop him.” The reason, he says, is that “since his son is under his authority, had he stopped him the son would have desisted.” Therefore it is accounted to the father as if he had actively caused his son to sin.
If so, then we begin to hear the challenging truth in the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. To be sure, we are not legally responsible for the sins of either our parents or our children. But in a deeper, more amorphous sense, what we do and how we live do have an effect on the future to the third and fourth generation.
Rarely has that effect been more devastatingly described than in recent books by two of America’s most insightful social critics: Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, and Robert Putnam of Harvard. Notwithstanding their vastly different approaches to politics, Murray in Coming Apart and Putnam in Our Kids have issued essentially the same prophetic warning of a social catastrophe in the making. For Putnam, “the American dream” is “in crisis”. For Murray, the division of the United States into two classes with ever decreasing mobility between them “will end what has made America America.”
Their argument is roughly this, that at a certain point, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, a whole series of institutions and moral codes began to dissolve. Marriage was devalued. Families began to fracture. More and more children grew up without stable association with their biological parents. New forms of child poverty began to appear, as well as social dysfunctions such as drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies and crime and unemployment in low-income areas. Over time, an upper class pulled back from the brink, and is now intensively preparing its children for high achievement, while on the other side of the tracks children are growing up with little hope for educational, social and occupational success. The American dream of opportunity for all is wearing thin.
What makes this development so tragic is that for a moment people forgot the biblical truth that what we do does not affect us alone. It will affect our children to the third and fourth generation. Even the greatest libertarian of modern times, John Stuart Mill, was emphatic on the responsibilities of parenthood. He wrote: “The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility—to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing—unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.”
If we fail to honour our responsibilities as parents, then though no law will hold us responsible, society’s children will pay the price. They will suffer because of our sins.
Two sermons by a pastor from another church in Arizona, who preached on several cults, including Potter’s House. He preached on the subject because he wants to reach those within these organizations; not because he thinks he’s better than CFM.
Independent, Fundamental, KJV Bible Only, Soulwinning Baptist Preaching. Word of Truth Baptist Church in Prescott Valley, AZ. Pastor David Berzins. http://www.wordoftruthbaptist.org
Potters House Christian Church telling members to tithe or go to hell This is the potters house Christian church who is known as a possible cult. These leaders and also the founder telling their congregation that if they do not tithe then they will go to hell
“The Potter’s House is an extremely wicked church doing the devil’s work. They are to be accursed for their false, works based salvation that they are spreading”
Behind the Door A series of newscasts concerning the Potter’s House also known as the Door.
The material explanation arrived at by a number of studies is that glossolalia is “learned behavior”. What is taught is the ability to produce language-like speech. This is only a partial explanation, but it is a part that has withstood much testing. It is possible to train novices to produce glossolalic speech. One experiment with 60 undergraduates found that 20% succeeded after merely listening to a 60-second sample, and 70% succeeded after training:
Our findings that glossolalia can be easily learned through direct instruction, along with demonstrations that tongue speakers can initiate and terminate glossolalia upon request and can exhibit glossolalia in the absence of any indexes of trance support the hypothesis that glossolalia utterances are goal-directed actions rather than involuntary happenings.
The admittedly fraudulent preacher Marjoe Gortner described in a 1977 interview how people learn glossolalia in a highly emotional religious setting.
“Tongues is something you learn,” he emphasized. “It is a releasing that you teach yourself. You are told by your peers, the church, and the Bible – if you accept it literally – that the Holy Ghost speaks in another tongue; you become convinced that it is the ultimate expression of the spirit flowing through you. The first time maybe you’ll just go dut-dut-dut-dut, and that’s about all that will get out. Then you’ll hear other people and next night you may go dut-dut-dut-UM-dut-DEET-dut-dut, and it gets a little better. The next thing you know, it’s ela-hando-satelay-eek-condele-mosandrey-aseya … and it’s a new language you’ve got down.”
That glossolalia can be learned is also seen in the traces left behind by teachers. An investigation by the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn showed that the influence of a particular leader can shape a group’s glossolalia: where certain prominent glossolalists had visited, whole groups of glossolalists would speak in his style of speech.
Kavan found that most New Zealand Pentecostals and Charismatics did not experience trance except during the baptism of the spirit. However, meditators in a yoga-based purification group experienced frequent intense trances, of which glossolalia was an occasional manifestation. Kavan suggested that there are two types of glossolalia – spontaneous and context-dependent – and the former is more likely to occur in groups that are radical, experiential and charismatically led.
Pentecostals, members of the Assemblies of God churches, and some other charismatics usually place great emphasis on spiritual “gifts and manifestations, claiming that there is a special post-salvation gift/experience called the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” or “Second Blessing”, in which the Holy Spirit, in all His fullness, is poured out on the believer and that the initial evidence of this “Second Blessing” is speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
When someone is “overcome by the Spirit” they often begin speaking gibberish, wave their arms, or even fall writhing on the floor. Apparently the speaker is said to be possessed by the Holy Spirit with the person himself having no control over his own tongue, which is is usually taken as absolute proof that one has been baptized in the Spirit, a highly prized spiritual goal.
But if, as shown, tongues were a known language in the New Testament and there is absolutely no evidence to show that it was some form of ecstatic speech, and Paul instructed that everything was to be done decently and in order, where does the the unintelligible gibberish, jerking, twitching, falling on the floor etc. all come from? Is it even possible that the devil has substituted the true gift of tongues with a knock-off version? Has the allure of receiving some form of deeper spiritual experience deceived countless millions into accepting this counterfeit? –
When you realize what you’ve been taught the Bible says is not what the Bible says.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Paul is not talking about “scripture” being the Book of Catholicism aka The New Testament, IT HAD NOT BEEN WRITTEN YET. He’s talking about the Tanakh (Tanach) the Hebrew Bible what the church calls “the Old Testament”, written in Herbrew, not one word of it has changed since given from Sinai 3300+ years ago. [lookup: Accuracy of Torah Text @ aish]
Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Examined the Scriptures? Bear in mind – The New Testament HAD NOT BEEN WRITTEN YET. The Scriptures being examined was the Hebrew Bible, The Tanakh (Tanach)
The word “Torah” is derived from two Hebrew words:
Torah is the Hebrew word that means “instruction”.
The Lord your God is testing you
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testingyou to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 13
A word from a former Pastor
“As a former church pastor and former messianic teacher, I offer to Christians a few observations and advice. First, you’ve been taught to view the world through the lens of your religion and to reject out-of-hand anything that conflicts or calls into question the Christian faith. You must find a way to undo this indoctrinated approach and seek truth for truth’s sake.
Learn the original language of the Hebrew Scriptures, at least well enough to look up words and cross-reference. Start with Genesis and work your way through giving no thought to the things you’ve been taught in the church, and without trying to “find Jesus” in the words. Before you dismiss that thought, consider this: Before the days of your book, this is how the Scriptures were studied.
Also, there are plenty of Jewish websites dedicated to answering Christianity’s teachings, and rabbis who will answer your questions (when asked respectfully, with a sincere desire for knowledge, not the desire to argue). There are videos on YouTube as well. Rabbi Tovia Singer has many videos that are presented to Christians in a spirit of love in a respectful and humble manner. There is also Rabbi Michael Skobac and Jews for Judaism. His teachings are more for Jews, so the presentation is a little different from that of Rabbi Singer’s but every bit as thorough. Both will provide you with a great starting point of learning the Hebrew Scriptures from a Jewish perspective.
I know that all seems a bit counter-intuitive given your ideology of a “great commission,” but it beats trying to tell Jews how they should interpret their Scriptures which they had for thousands of years before yours were ever conceived. If you have no interest in knowing how “the other side” thinks, then I recommend you stick to friends and groups who share your views.
I wish you well. Enjoy your learning! ~Kalev Ben Noach”
Gutman Locks answers fundamental questions about Judaism for Pastor Joel Kramer.
The OT is a Christian text. It was produced by the Church and it’s a reorganised, mistranslated, altered version of the Jewish Tanakh. The Tanakh represents the original Hebrew, Jewish texts. Jews follow the Tanakh and only the Tanakh.
Think about it this way: why would we, as Jews, describe our own texts as ‘old’…? There is no ‘new’ scripture for us. There is only the Tanakh.
Right, now we’ve got that out the way….!
This is a brief guide for both Jews and Gentiles, and hopefully it answers basic queries on the Jewish texts. Please feel very welcome to submit any questions.
The Jewish holy text is the Torah. This comprises the five books of Moses:
In every Synagogue across the world, the Torah appears in scroll form. For Jews, it is the direct word of G-d. Traditional Jewish belief is that G-d spoke to a huge gathering of Jews at Mount Sinai, and all present heard his voice. G-d dictated the Torah to Moses, who wrote it down.
This is the view of Orthodox Jews. Less religious Jews, members of Conservative and Reform Judaism, may not agree that the Torah comes from G-d, literally. Rather, they may argue that the Torah was compiled over a long period of time, with several authors. Some support for this idea comes from the different writing styles apparent throughout the five books.
Either way, all Jews recognise the Torah as their holy text, and all Jewish boys, and many Jewish girls, learn a portion of the Torah, in Hebrew, for their bar/bat mitzvahs.
The Torah is not something which can be taken literally, nor understood at face value. Jews believe that every singleletteris full of meaning. In short, we view the Torah as a message written by G-d to us as Jews. The word ‘Torah’ means ‘instruction’. Thus the Torah is G-d’s instructions to us, for Within the Torah are the commandments and teachings of Judaism.
But the Torah is also a history book. It contains within it the earliest history of the Jews. So although we might not always take it literally, we hold that much of the Torah is essentially true.
The Oral Torah or Talmud
The actual word ‘Torah’ refers also to the Oral Torah, which was given along with the written Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai.
The Oral Torah comprises explanations of the written Torah, as well as extra bits of advice and wisdom offered by Moses.
Originally, Jews did not commit the Oral Torah to written form. Instead, it was taught by fathers to their sons, generation after generation. But eventually, the Jewish leaders realised that there was a risk of all the knowledge being lost, because Jews were being attacked and killed with increasing frequency.
So in the second century CE, the Jewish leader at that time, Judah HaNasi, wrote down a basic outline of the fundamental aspects of Oral Torah. This was then divided into six parts – known as the Mishnah (‘repetition’). This ratified the Oral tradition.
After this, over several generations, Rabbis and sages met to discuss and debate the Mishnah, to clarify its principles and to add other oral teachings that had been part of Judaism since Mount Sinai. These additions are known as the Gemara (‘completion’).
Together, the Mishnah and Gemara make up the TALMUD.
The Talmud, then, illuminates and clarifies the written Torah, the five books of Moses. The Talmud comprises a series of volumes, full of discussions and debates, rulings and proverbs, with some folklore and humour in addition. Almost every topic under the sun is covered, for the Talmud shows us how to apply Torah to life.
As one Jewish author puts it:
‘The Torah is G-d speaking to us. The Talmud is us answering!’
Frequently asked questions about Jewish texts:
Q: Is it true that there are insultings things written about Gentiles in the Talmud?
A: Sadly, this rumour appears to be a popular one. There is no truth whatsoever to it. The Talmud is primarily concerned with Jewish religious law and how to apply it. Where non Jews are mentioned, it is certainly not in a negative light at all. Judaism holds all humans as being equal. It makes no difference which faith a person follows. ‘Love thy neighbour’ is a Jewish teaching, found in the Torah thousands of years before Christianity also began using it.
Q: Is the ‘old testament’ the same thing as the Tanakh?
A: No. The ‘old testament’ is a purely Christian text. It was produced by the Church, thousands of years after the Tanakh. Some versions of the OT are very accurate and reliable. But some are not, and in these we find significant mistranslations and misinterpretations of the original Hebrew. In addition, the OT is organised differently to the Tanakh, with ‘chapter breaks’ inserted that do not appear in the original Jewish text.
Jews don’t study the OT at all. In fact, the very name ‘old’ testament illustrates it is a Christian document. Why would Judaism label its own scriptures as ‘old’?!
It is rather frustrating for Jews; our scriptures have been taken on by another faith, changed, and then, historically, used by Christianity to ‘prove’ that Jews are ‘wrong’ and that Jesus is ‘foreshadowed’ in the Jewish scriptures!
*Some* Christians argue that they understand the Jewish texts better than Jews themselves. Yet Jews study the Tanakh, for the most part, in the original Hebrew. Most (not all) Christians study the OT, which is a translation OF a translation OF the Tanakh.
But what about the Septuagint?
The Septuagint refers to the Greek version of the Tanakh. But what many people don’t realise is that only the Torah part (five books of Moses) was actually translated by Jews.
All the rest was translated by non Jews. And if we compare, for example, Isaiah in the Tanakh, with Isaiah in the Septuagint, it is clear that the Septuagint does not reflect the original Hebrew at all.
Ultimately, the entire Septuagint was revised by the Church, and ceased to have any link to Judaism.
Here is a particularly interesting comment on the Septuagint, by Rabbi Tovia Singer, from the excellent website Outreach Judaism.
“… the Septuagint in our hands is not a Jewish document, but rather a Christian one. The original Septuagint, created 2,200 years ago by 72 Jewish translators, was a Greek translation of the Five Books of Moses alone.
It therefore did not contain prophetic Books of the Bible such as Isaiah. The Septuagint as we have it today, which includes the Prophets and Writings as well, is a product of the Church, not the Jewish people. In fact, the Septuagint remains the official Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the manuscripts that consist of our Septuagint today date to the third century C.E. The fact that additional books known as the Apocrypha, which are uniquely sacred to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church, are found in the Septuagint should raise a red flag to those inquiring into the Jewishness of the Septuagint.
Christians such as Origin and Lucian (third and fourth century C.E.) had an enormous impact on creating and shaping the Septuagint that missionaries use to advance their untenable arguments against Judaism. In essence, the present Septuagint is largely a post-second century Christian translation of the Bible, used zealously by the Church throughout the centuries as an indispensable apologetic instrument to defend and sustain Christological alterations of the Jewish scriptures.
The fact that the original Septuagint translated by rabbis more than 22 centuries ago was only of the Pentateuch and not of prophetic books of the Bible such as Isaiah is confirmed by countless sources including the ancient Letter of Aristeas, which is the earliest attestation to the existence of the Septuagint. The Talmud also states this explicitly in Tractate Megillah (9a), and Josephus as well affirms that the Septuagint was a translation only of the Law of Moses in his preface to Antiquities of the Jews.1 Moreover, Jerome, a church father and Bible translator who could hardly be construed as friendly to Judaism, affirms Josephus’ statement regarding the authorship of the Septuagint in his preface to The Book of Hebrew Questions.2 Likewise, the Anchor Bible Dictionary reports precisely this point in the opening sentence of its article on the Septuagint which states, “The word ‘Septuagint,’ (from Lat septuaginta = 70; hence the abbreviation LXX) derives from a story that 72 elders translated the Pentateuch into Greek; the term therefore applied originally only to those five books.”
In fact, Dr. F.F. Bruce, the preeminent professor of Biblical exegesis, keenly points out that, strictly speaking, the Septuagint deals only with the Pentateuch and not the whole Old Testament. Bruce writes:
“The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles.”
Q: What are some of the specific differences between the Christian Old Testament, and the Jewish Tanakh?
A: Below I provide a partial list. I’d like to first reiterate: some versions of the OT have been revised and are pretty accurate and reliable. Others are not. Below are some of the discrepancies which appear in some versions of the OT:
1. Zechariah 12:10 − The Hebrew Tanakh: “and they shall look upon me whom they have stabbed/ thrust through [with swords”)
The King James Version of Zechariah changes one word [stabbed] to “pierced.”
BUT John 19:37 (New Testament) misquotes Zechariah to change the entire meaning by saying, “They shall look on him (instead of ME) whom they pierced.”
2. Isaiah 7:14 − The Hebrew Tanakh says “Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman (alma) is with child, and she will bear a son and she shall call his name Immanuel.”
**Take note, this was written in the present tense.
But the Greek Septuagint changed “alma,” saying “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:22-23). The church changed the entire verse from present to FUTURE tense and then went further to change the Hebrew alma, meaning a young woman to virgin.
3. Isaiah 53:10 − The Hebrew Tanakh says “And the Lord wished to crush him, He made him ill; if his soul makes itself restitution (acknowledge guilt) he shall see children, he shall prolong his days and God’s purpose shall prosper in his hand.”
But the KJV says:: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he had put him to grief: when thou shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand”..
4. Psalm 16:9-10 − (KJV) “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (10) For thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer thine Holy One to see corruption”. Why not continue to the next verse? Christians can not because David wasn’t talking about Jesus; David was talking about himself. (Psalm 16:11) “You will show me the path of life, in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Psalm 16:9-10 in the Hebrew Tanakh says “Therefore, my heart rejoiced and my soul was glad; even my flesh shall dwell in safety. (10) For You shall not forsake my soul to the grave; You shall not allow Your pious one to see the pit.”
Where is ‘Hell’, and ‘Corruption’ as the New Testament stated? It did not exist! .
The Hebrew translation of Psalm 16:10 tells of David again talking to God, rejoicing that God will not forsake his soul to the grave. While David is alive he will dwell in safety because God will protect his flesh from injury, and G-d will show him the way. Does verse 11 relate to Jesus? If Jesus is part of the godhead, as Christians say, how can G-d show him the way?
5. Isaiah 9:5 − The Hebrew Tanakh reads: “For a child has been born to us, a son has been given us and authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named “The Mighty G-d” Isaiah was referring to King Hezekiah, son of Ahaz.
Again, in an attempt to insert a Jesus prophecy, the KJV changed the tense from the present to the future, making it, “A child is born, a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty G-d”. [In Hebrew Hezekiah means “the mighty G-d.”]
6. In John, the New Testament author tries to make Jesus as the perfect sacrificial lamb of God (who then supposedly takes away the sins of the world) and relate this to the Jewish Passover. [John’s writings have Jesus die on Passover, while the other Gospel authors say he died the day after.] John 19:32-36 tells of soldiers breaking the legs of the crucifixion victims to hasten their deaths, yet sparing Jesus because he was already dead. To this end the author of John supposedly quotes Hebrew Scripture saying, “For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken.” The New Testament “fulfilled prophecy” supposedly refers to Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12 and to Psalms 34:20.
Notice how conveniently John changed the entire meaning by simply changing of Exodus 12:46 by changing one word: “it” to “him.” Exodus 12:46 refers to the PASSOVER-offering, “…and you shall not break a bone in it (the animal).”
Numbers 9:12 again refer to the PASSOVER-offering, “…nor shall they break a bone of it”. Again, by changing one word, the original message is lost.
Psalms 34:20 refers to David saying no one becomes truly righteous and great without his share of mishaps,
CONTINUATION: He guards all his bones, even one of them was not broken.” Nothing ever shows that this Psalm was intended as prophetic, certainly not applying to the future fictitious character of Jesus.
(NOTE: Jesus would have been disqualified as a Passover ‘sacrifice’ because the female lamb had to be “without blemish.” Jesus was wounded, whipped and mutilated.)
7. Psalm 2: 11-12. By simply leaving off one Aramaic word, Christians altered the entire verse. The KJV reads, “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish from the way”
The original Hebrew Tanakh records the verses as “Do homage in purity (nash-ku bar) lest He be angry and you perish”. The meaning of the Hebrew word “bar” is pure or clear. Yes, in Aramaic, the word “bar” does mean son, but it is used only as a combination of two words – SON OF. If in Aramaic, the author wanted to mean just the son, he would have used the phrase “ber’a with the letter alef at the end. (Psalm 2:11-12).
8. Matthew 2:23 − “And he (Jesus) came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets”
Which prophets said that?
According to scholars, rabbis and historians, the city of Nazareth did not exist during the writings of Hebrew Scriptures.
The word “Nazareth” does not appear anywhere in Hebrew Scriptures. This is even verified by the New Testament Concordance!
Therefore, Nazareth and Nazarene are Christian words, not Hebrew words. Nazareth is not mentioned in non-Christian sources until the third or fourth century.
Nazarites are not a sect. but rather it is an individual oath taken by a person to be in effect for a time period. During this time the person is not allowed to cut their hair, go near a corpse, eat grapes or drink wine. Afterward he must bring special offerings to the Beith Hamikdash and shave his hair.
9. Psalm 22:16 from the Hebrew Tanakh when correctly translated reads “They surrounded my hands and feet like a lion” (the word “ka’ari clearly means like a lion, as evident from its use in Isaiah 38:13 and other writings, even in the KJV).
David was pursued by his enemies and often referred to them as “lions” (see Psalms 7 & 17).
Yet, when read out of context the KJV dmistranslates: “They pierced my hands and feet.” The passage was altered to indicate Jesus.
10. Using Isaiah 59:20, Christians again misquote Hebrew Scripture. The New Testament in Romans 11:26, has Paul supposedly saying, “And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written. There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
The Tanakh recorded a different event. Isaiah:“A redeemer will come to Zion, and to those of Jacob who repent from willful sin. Is it in or out of Jerusalem? Just change “to Zion” to “out of Zion.”
11. Hosea 6:2 − The Christian Bible has the authoress of Luke (24:46-47) telling that Jesus rose on the Third Day: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” This could have only been designed to satisfy a prophecy in Hosea 6:2. The New Testament has Paul writing in I Corinthians, “and Jesus was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Further 1 Corinthians 15:4.says “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight.” Which Hebrew Scriptures are these authors talking about?
As usual, the source documents, The Hebrew Scriptures, say something entirely different:
Hosea 6:1-2 “They will say, Come let us return to God for He (God) has mangled us and He (God) will heal us; He (God) has smitten and He (God) will bandage us. He (God) will heal us after two days; on the third day He (God) will raise us up and we will live before Him. ‘We’ refers to the nation of Israel.
The last verse in Chapter 5 sets the scene and explains the situation very clearly: “I (God) will go, I will return to My place until they will acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their distress they will seek Me (Hosea 5:15). Hosea explains in verse 5 that God sent a clear-cut message to Israel through My prophets; you heard and refused to repent, so My offer resulted in your death sentence. How could I vindicate you after such defiance? Then Hosea explains: “Come let us return to God”!
Does this refer to Jesus?
And a few more…
Psalm 2:11-12. This passage is cited often by Christians seeking to prove the Trinity. In the King James Bible, it reads:
“Serve the L-rd with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
But the verse is mistranslated. The word rendered “the Son” is “bar”. In Hebrew, the word means “pure” and is correctly translated in Psalm 24 (“clean hands and a pure heart”). The Hebrew word for “son” is “ben”.
Confusion results from the fact that the word does mean “son” in Aramaic; but there is no Aramaic in any of the Psalms. In fact, verse 2:7, just a few verses before this passage, reads, “I will declare the decree: the L-rd hath said unto me, Thou art my Son [beni]; this day have I begotten thee”, proving that the word “ben” was known and used by the composer of Psalm 2. Verses 11 and 12 should read, “Serve the L-rd with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Desire what is pure, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
This rendering makes it clear that the pronouns in verse 12 all refer to the L-rd, with no hint of a Trinity.
Even if we assume that “bar” means “son” here, that still doesn’t give us a Trinity. G-d has many sons. Israel is G-d’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22; see also Hosea 11:1). The sons of G-d took wives from among the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-2). The sons of G-d appeared before His throne, and Satan was among them (Job 1:6; 2:1).
Even Jesus says, “Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of G-d” (Matthew 5:9). There is nothing in Psalm 2 which makes the “bar” any more G-d’s son than the sons mentioned above.
Isaiah 53:8 in the Christian bible reads “…for the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
Is this the correct translation from the Hebrew bible?
No. The correct translation of Isaiah 53:8 (from the Hebrew bible) is: “as a result of the transgression of my people, they were afflicted.”
The correct translation is THEY, not He! This Hebrew word for “they” appears over 40 times in the Hebrew bible – always translated as “they”!
As all of my fellow Jews will no doubt agree, if there is one part of the Tanakh that many Christians use to ‘prove’ to us that Jesus is mentioned/referenced, it is this!
The problem is, they are not only mistranslating but also misinterpreting it.
Isaiah 53 actually starts with Chapter 52:13. In Hebrew, the scripture portions are divided by “stumas.” A space of several letters can be found at the closing of a passage before the next passage begins.
This can ***only*** be found in a Hebrew Bible. A Torah scribe has to strictly follow these rules. By reading the passage in its entirety, you learn that God is speaking to his servant and that the servant shall prosper and be exalted and be very high (Isaiah 52:13).
And who is the ‘suffering servant’?
Christianity claims it is Jesus.
But in fact, it is Israel, as clearly shown in Isaiah 41:8 & 44:1-2 & 45:4. These verses continue to describe the amazement of the world when they see the Jewish people redeemed. In particular, they are written in an exclamatory fashion to describe how the nations “despised” the Jewish people and gave “no regard” for them. The reason it is written in the singular is because the Jews are regarded as one body, called “Israel.” There are many instances of the Jewish people being referred to with a singular pronoun throughout the Torah.
It’s also interesting to compare what is said in the Christian bible, *about* the Tanakh, to what is actually written in the Tanakh.
We find things that contradict the Tanakh:
Matthew 1:2-15 – His list of generations does not agree with Torah l Chronicles Ch. 1-3
Matthew 1:16 – he forgot Jewish law. The Jewish Scriptures state that a person’s genealogy and tribal membership is transmitted exclusively through the **biological** father (Numbers 1:18 Jeremiah 33:17)
Matthew 5:43 – Jesus says: “thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy which You have heard that it hath been said”.
But in the Tanakh, Leviticus 19:18 does not mention any ‘enemy’.
Matthew 1511 – ‘Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.’ Contradicted by all the dietary laws in the Tanakh.
Matthew on Isaiah:
Matt 1:23 – Mistakenly uses the Septuagint word for virgin instead of Hebrew “Almah” (young woman)
Matthew 1:23 – Misquotes Isaiah 7:14, “they” will call Jesus Immanuel, whereas Isaiah wrote “his mother” would call him Immanuel – not “they”.
Matthew 3:3 – Misinterprets and alters Isaiah 40:3 – “Prepare the way of the Lord”. Not so.
Matt 4:15 – Added “Galilee of the Gentiles” to Isaiah 9:1-2. Not in the Hebrew Tanakh.
Matt 8:17 – Took Isaiah 53:4 out of context – Isaiah was relating to a leper (nagua).
Matt 12:17-21 – Taking Isaiah 42:1-4 out of context – the Servant was Israel 4 times
Matt. 13.14-15 – Took out of context Isaiah 6:9-10 of people being “blind”
Matthew also misinterprets the Jewish Prophets:
Matthew 2:5-6 – Misinterprets Micah 5:2 – the Messiah coming from Bethlehem. It was David a Bethlemite, born in Bethlehem and from his seed would come the messiah.
Matthew 2:15 –Taking Hosea 11:1 out of context, Jesus being called out of Egypt
Matthew 2:17-18 – Distorts meaning of Jeremiah 31:1-17 of Rachel weeping.
Matthew 11.10: By changing the pronoun in Malachi 3.1 “before me” or “before you”?
Matthew 13:35 – The Christ will speak in parables – distorting Psalm 78:2
Matthew 21:1-7 – Jesus riding on two donkeys at the same time – ???????? – (Zechariah 9:9)
Matthew 22:43-44 – Capitalizes the second lord – altering the meaning of Psalm 110:1
Matthew 23:35 Mistakenly gave Zechariah’ father the wrong son. Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada, not Barachiah. II Chronicles 24:20–21
Matthew 27:9 – Quoted the wrong prophet – was not Jeremiah but Zechariah
Matthew 27:9 – Book of Zechariah was never about any “potter’s field”
Are the ‘covenant’ and the ‘testament’ synonymous? Remember that Jeremiah wrote in Hebrew. So when Greeks–not fully understanding the correct Hebrew definition of the word “Bereeth–interpreted the Hebrew word “Bereeth”, they interpreted it as Covenant and also Testament,” They failed to realize that “Bereeth” also means a “promise.”
The Hebrew word “BEREETH” or covenant signifies a promise between God and the Jewish people. It may be made official by any number of symbolic acts such as circumcision (bris), offerings (sacrifice), etc. Bereeth binds living persons to certain behaviour. In the case of the ‘new’ Contract (Covenant), the parties involved were God, Israel, and Judah. The New Covenant is to be made with both Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31).
‘Bereeth’ is a promise from God that he will never abandon the Jews as is revealed over and over again in His Torah and Tanakh.
Christianity statesJeremiah says that God replaced the old covenant with a new one. “Behold the days are coming says the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the House of Judah”.(Jer 31:30-31 quoted in Heb 8:8-12, 10:16).
Christians claim this clearly proves that the old covenant will be abolished for the new one of Jesus. Well, maybe, if you stop right there with verse 32. But continue: The very next verse 33 says,
“I will put my Torah within them.”
It does not say new Torah – instead, it is the same Torah which will become a permanent part and will not be forgotten as in the past. Verse 32 in the Jewish Bible says;
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My Torah in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The game is rigged by a cabal of powerful elites to ensure the winner of our election was their preferred winner. And that is not my opinion, its the claim by TIME Magazine
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SHADOW CAMPAIGN THAT SAVED THE 2020 ELECTION
BY MOLLY BALL FEBRUARY 4, 2021
A weird thing happened right after the Nov. 3 election: nothing.
The nation was braced for chaos. Liberal groups had vowed to take to the streets, planning hundreds of protests across the country. Right-wing militias were girding for battle. In a poll before Election Day, 75% of Americans voiced concern about violence.
Instead, an eerie quiet descended. As President Trump refused to concede, the response was not mass action but crickets. When media organizations called the race for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, jubilation broke out instead, as people thronged cities across the U.S. to celebrate the democratic process that resulted in Trump’s ouster.
A second odd thing happened amid Trump’s attempts to reverse the result: corporate America turned on him. Hundreds of major business leaders, many of whom had backed Trump’s candidacy and supported his policies, called on him to concede.[FALSE] To the President, something felt amiss. “It was all very, very strange,” Trump said on Dec. 2. “Within days after the election, we witnessed an orchestrated effort to anoint the winner, even while many key states were still being counted.”
In a way, Trump was right.
There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain–inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests–in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.
The handshake between business and labor was just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and uncorrupted. For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors. The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.
Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears. They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction. After Election Day, they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result. “The untold story of the election is the thousands of people of both parties who accomplished the triumph of American democracy at its very foundation,” says Norm Eisen, a prominent lawyer and former Obama Administration official who recruited Republicans and Democrats to the board of the Voter Protection Program.
For Trump and his allies were running their own campaign to spoil the election. The President spent months insisting that mail ballots were a Democratic plot and the election would be “rigged.” His henchmen at the state level sought to block their use, while his lawyers brought dozens of spurious suits to make it more difficult to vote–an intensification of the GOP’s legacy of suppressive tactics. Before the election, Trump plotted to block a legitimate vote count. And he spent the months following Nov. 3 trying to steal the election he’d lost–with lawsuits and conspiracy theories, pressure on state and local officials, and finally summoning his army of supporters to the Jan. 6 rally that ended in deadly violence at the Capitol.
The democracy campaigners watched with alarm. “Every week, we felt like we were in a struggle to try to pull off this election without the country going through a real dangerous moment of unraveling,” says former GOP Representative Zach Wamp, a Trump supporter who helped coordinate a bipartisan election-protection council. “We can look back and say this thing went pretty well, but it was not at all clear in September and October that that was going to be the case.”
This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”
That’s why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system’s fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures.
THE ARCHITECT Sometime in the fall of 2019, Mike Podhorzer became convinced the election was headed for disaster–and determined to protect it.
This was not his usual purview. For nearly a quarter-century, Podhorzer, senior adviser to the president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation, has marshaled the latest tactics and data to help its favored candidates win elections. Unassuming and professorial, he isn’t the sort of hair-gelled “political strategist” who shows up on cable news. Among Democratic insiders, he’s known as the wizard behind some of the biggest advances in political technology in recent decades. A group of liberal strategists he brought together in the early 2000s led to the creation of the Analyst Institute, a secretive firm that applies scientific methods to political campaigns. He was also involved in the founding of Catalist, the flagship progressive data company.
The endless chatter in Washington about “political strategy,” Podhorzer believes, has little to do with how change really gets made. “My basic take on politics is that it’s all pretty obvious if you don’t overthink it or swallow the prevailing frameworks whole,” he once wrote. “After that, just relentlessly identify your assumptions and challenge them.” Podhorzer applies that approach to everything: when he coached his now adult son’s Little League team in the D.C. suburbs, he trained the boys not to swing at most pitches–a tactic that infuriated both their and their opponents’ parents, but won the team a series of championships.
Trump’s election in 2016–credited in part to his unusual strength among the sort of blue collar white voters who once dominated the AFL-CIO–prompted Podhorzer to question his assumptions about voter behavior. He began circulating weekly number-crunching memos to a small circle of allies and hosting strategy sessions in D.C. But when he began to worry about the election itself, he didn’t want to seem paranoid. It was only after months of research that he introduced his concerns in his newsletter in October 2019. The usual tools of data, analytics and polling would not be sufficient in a situation where the President himself was trying to disrupt the election, he wrote. “Most of our planning takes us through Election Day,” he noted. “But, we are not prepared for the two most likely outcomes”–Trump losing and refusing to concede, and Trump winning the Electoral College (despite losing the popular vote) by corrupting the voting process in key states. “We desperately need to systematically ‘red-team’ this election so that we can anticipate and plan for the worst we know will be coming our way.”
It turned out Podhorzer wasn’t the only one thinking in these terms. He began to hear from others eager to join forces. The Fight Back Table, a coalition of “resistance” organizations, had begun scenario-planning around the potential for a contested election, gathering liberal activists at the local and national level into what they called the Democracy Defense Coalition. Voting-rights and civil rights organizations were raising alarms. A group of former elected officials was researching emergency powers they feared Trump might exploit. Protect Democracy was assembling a bipartisan election-crisis task force. “It turned out that once you said it out loud, people agreed,” Podhorzer says, “and it started building momentum.”
He spent months pondering scenarios and talking to experts. It wasn’t hard to find liberals who saw Trump as a dangerous dictator, but Podhorzer was careful to steer clear of hysteria. What he wanted to know was not how American democracy was dying but how it might be kept alive. The chief difference between the U.S. and countries that lost their grip on democracy, he concluded, was that America’s decentralized election system couldn’t be rigged in one fell swoop. That presented an opportunity to shore it up.
THE ALLIANCE On March 3, Podhorzer drafted a three-page confidential memo titled “Threats to the 2020 Election.” “Trump has made it clear that this will not be a fair election, and that he will reject anything but his own re-election as ‘fake’ and rigged,” he wrote. “On Nov. 3, should the media report otherwise, he will use the right-wing information system to establish his narrative and incite his supporters to protest.” The memo laid out four categories of challenges: attacks on voters, attacks on election administration, attacks on Trump’s political opponents and “efforts to reverse the results of the election.”
Then COVID-19 erupted at the height of the primary-election season. Normal methods of voting were no longer safe for voters or the mostly elderly volunteers who normally staff polling places. But political disagreements, intensified by Trump’s crusade against mail voting, prevented some states from making it easier to vote absentee and for jurisdictions to count those votes in a timely manner. Chaos ensued. Ohio shut down in-person voting for its primary, leading to minuscule turnout. A poll-worker shortage in Milwaukee–where Wisconsin’s heavily Democratic Black population is concentrated–left just five open polling places, down from 182. In New York, vote counting took more than a month.
Suddenly, the potential for a November meltdown was obvious. In his apartment in the D.C. suburbs, Podhorzer began working from his laptop at his kitchen table, holding back-to-back Zoom meetings for hours a day with his network of contacts across the progressive universe: the labor movement; the institutional left, like Planned Parenthood and Greenpeace; resistance groups like Indivisible and MoveOn; progressive data geeks and strategists, representatives of donors and foundations, state-level grassroots organizers, racial-justice activists and others.
In April, Podhorzer began hosting a weekly 2½-hour Zoom. It was structured around a series of rapid-fire five-minute presentations on everything from which ads were working to messaging to legal strategy. The invitation-only gatherings soon attracted hundreds, creating a rare shared base of knowledge for the fractious progressive movement. “At the risk of talking trash about the left, there’s not a lot of good information sharing,” says Anat Shenker-Osorio, a close Podhorzer friend whose poll-tested messaging guidance shaped the group’s approach. “There’s a lot of not-invented-here syndrome, where people won’t consider a good idea if they didn’t come up with it.”
The meetings became the galactic center for a constellation of operatives across the left who shared overlapping goals but didn’t usually work in concert. The group had no name, no leaders and no hierarchy, but it kept the disparate actors in sync. “Pod played a critical behind-the-scenes role in keeping different pieces of the movement infrastructure in communication and aligned,” says Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party. “You have the litigation space, the organizing space, the political people just focused on the W, and their strategies aren’t always aligned. He allowed this ecosystem to work together.”
Protecting the election would require an effort of unprecedented scale. As 2020 progressed, it stretched to Congress, Silicon Valley and the nation’s statehouses. It drew energy from the summer’s racial-justice protests, many of whose leaders were a key part of the liberal alliance. And eventually it reached across the aisle, into the world of Trump-skeptical Republicans appalled by his attacks on democracy.
SECURING THE VOTE The first task was overhauling America’s balky election infrastructure–in the middle of a pandemic. For the thousands of local, mostly nonpartisan officials who administer elections, the most urgent need was money. They needed protective equipment like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. They needed to pay for postcards letting people know they could vote absentee–or, in some states, to mail ballots to every voter. They needed additional staff and scanners to process ballots.
In March, activists appealed to Congress to steer COVID relief money to election administration. Led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, more than 150 organizations signed a letter to every member of Congress seeking $2 billion in election funding. It was somewhat successful: the CARES Act, passed later that month, contained $400 million in grants to state election administrators. But the next tranche of relief funding didn’t add to that number. It wasn’t going to be enough.
Private philanthropy stepped into the breach. An assortment of foundations contributed tens of millions in election-administration funding. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative chipped in $300 million. “It was a failure at the federal level that 2,500 local election officials were forced to apply for philanthropic grants to fill their needs,” says Amber McReynolds, a former Denver election official who heads the nonpartisan National Vote at Home Institute.
McReynolds’ two-year-old organization became a clearinghouse for a nation struggling to adapt. The institute gave secretaries of state from both parties technical advice on everything from which vendors to use to how to locate drop boxes. Local officials are the most trusted sources of election information, but few can afford a press secretary, so the institute distributed communications tool kits. In a presentation to Podhorzer’s group, McReynolds detailed the importance of absentee ballots for shortening lines at polling places and preventing an election crisis.
The institute’s work helped 37 states and D.C. bolster mail voting. But it wouldn’t be worth much if people didn’t take advantage. Part of the challenge was logistical: each state has different rules for when and how ballots should be requested and returned. The Voter Participation Center, which in a normal year would have deployed canvassers door-to-door to get out the vote, instead conducted focus groups in April and May to find out what would get people to vote by mail. In August and September, it sent ballot applications to 15 million people in key states, 4.6 million of whom returned them. In mailings and digital ads, the group urged people not to wait for Election Day. “All the work we have done for 17 years was built for this moment of bringing democracy to people’s doorsteps,” says Tom Lopach, the center’s CEO.
The effort had to overcome heightened skepticism in some communities. Many Black voters preferred to exercise their franchise in person or didn’t trust the mail. National civil rights groups worked with local organizations to get the word out that this was the best way to ensure one’s vote was counted. In Philadelphia, for example, advocates distributed “voting safety kits” containing masks, hand sanitizer and informational brochures. “We had to get the message out that this is safe, reliable, and you can trust it,” says Hannah Fried of All Voting Is Local.
At the same time, Democratic lawyers battled a historic tide of pre-election litigation. The pandemic intensified the parties’ usual tangling in the courts. But the lawyers noticed something else as well. “The litigation brought by the Trump campaign, of a piece with the broader campaign to sow doubt about mail voting, was making novel claims and using theories no court has ever accepted,” says Wendy Weiser, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. “They read more like lawsuits designed to send a message rather than achieve a legal outcome.”
In the end, nearly half the electorate cast ballots by mail in 2020, practically a revolution in how people vote. About a quarter voted early in person. Only a quarter of voters cast their ballots the traditional way: in person on Election Day.
THE DISINFORMATION DEFENSE Bad actors spreading false information is nothing new. For decades, campaigns have grappled with everything from anonymous calls claiming the election has been rescheduled to fliers spreading nasty smears about candidates’ families. But Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories, the viral force of social media and the involvement of foreign meddlers made disinformation a broader, deeper threat to the 2020 vote.
Laura Quinn, a veteran progressive operative who co-founded Catalist, began studying this problem a few years ago. She piloted a nameless, secret project, which she has never before publicly discussed, that tracked disinformation online and tried to figure out how to combat it. One component was tracking dangerous lies that might otherwise spread unnoticed. Researchers then provided information to campaigners or the media to track down the sources and expose them.
The most important takeaway from Quinn’s research, however, was that engaging with toxic content only made it worse. “When you get attacked, the instinct is to push back, call it out, say, ‘This isn’t true,’” Quinn says. “But the more engagement something gets, the more the platforms boost it. The algorithm reads that as, ‘Oh, this is popular; people want more of it.’”
The solution, she concluded, was to pressure platforms to enforce their rules, both by removing content or accounts that spread disinformation and by more aggressively policing it in the first place. “The platforms have policies against certain types of malign behavior, but they haven’t been enforcing them,” she says.
Quinn’s research gave ammunition to advocates pushing social media platforms to take a harder line. In November 2019, Mark Zuckerberg invited nine civil rights leaders to dinner at his home, where they warned him about the danger of the election-related falsehoods that were already spreading unchecked. “It took pushing, urging, conversations, brainstorming, all of that to get to a place where we ended up with more rigorous rules and enforcement,” says Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who attended the dinner and also met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and others. (Gupta has been nominated for Associate Attorney General by President Biden.) “It was a struggle, but we got to the point where they understood the problem. Was it enough? Probably not. Was it later than we wanted? Yes. But it was really important, given the level of official disinformation, that they had those rules in place and were tagging things and taking them down.”
SPREADING THE WORD Beyond battling bad information, there was a need to explain a rapidly changing election process. It was crucial for voters to understand that despite what Trump was saying, mail-in votes weren’t susceptible to fraud and that it would be normal if some states weren’t finished counting votes on election night.
Dick Gephardt, the Democratic former House leader turned high-powered lobbyist, spearheaded one coalition. “We wanted to get a really bipartisan group of former elected officials, Cabinet secretaries, military leaders and so on, aimed mainly at messaging to the public but also speaking to local officials–the secretaries of state, attorneys general, governors who would be in the eye of the storm–to let them know we wanted to help,” says Gephardt, who worked his contacts in the private sector to put $20 million behind the effort.
Wamp, the former GOP Congressman, worked through the nonpartisan reform group Issue One to rally Republicans. “We thought we should bring some bipartisan element of unity around what constitutes a free and fair election,” Wamp says. The 22 Democrats and 22 Republicans on the National Council on Election Integrity met on Zoom at least once a week. They ran ads in six states, made statements, wrote articles and alerted local officials to potential problems. “We had rabid Trump supporters who agreed to serve on the council based on the idea that this is honest,” Wamp says. This is going to be just as important, he told them, to convince the liberals when Trump wins. “Whichever way it cuts, we’re going to stick together.”
The Voting Rights Lab and IntoAction created state-specific memes and graphics, spread by email, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, urging that every vote be counted. Together, they were viewed more than 1 billion times. Protect Democracy’s election task force issued reports and held media briefings with high-profile experts across the political spectrum, resulting in widespread coverage of potential election issues and fact-checking of Trump’s false claims. The organization’s tracking polls found the message was being heard: the percentage of the public that didn’t expect to know the winner on election night gradually rose until by late October, it was over 70%. A majority also believed that a prolonged count wasn’t a sign of problems. “We knew exactly what Trump was going to do: he was going to try to use the fact that Democrats voted by mail and Republicans voted in person to make it look like he was ahead, claim victory, say the mail-in votes were fraudulent and try to get them thrown out,” says Protect Democracy’s Bassin. Setting public expectations ahead of time helped undercut those lies.
The alliance took a common set of themes from the research Shenker-Osorio presented at Podhorzer’s Zooms. Studies have shown that when people don’t think their vote will count or fear casting it will be a hassle, they’re far less likely to participate. Throughout election season, members of Podhorzer’s group minimized incidents of voter intimidation and tamped down rising liberal hysteria about Trump’s expected refusal to concede. They didn’t want to amplify false claims by engaging them, or put people off voting by suggesting a rigged game. “When you say, ‘These claims of fraud are spurious,’ what people hear is ‘fraud,’” Shenker-Osorio says. “What we saw in our pre-election research was that anything that reaffirmed Trump’s power or cast him as an authoritarian diminished people’s desire to vote.”
Podhorzer, meanwhile, was warning everyone he knew that polls were underestimating Trump’s support. The data he shared with media organizations who would be calling the election was “tremendously useful” to understand what was happening as the votes rolled in, according to a member of a major network’s political unit who spoke with Podhorzer before Election Day. Most analysts had recognized there would be a “blue shift” in key battlegrounds– the surge of votes breaking toward Democrats, driven by tallies of mail-in ballots– but they hadn’t comprehended how much better Trump was likely to do on Election Day. “Being able to document how big the absentee wave would be and the variance by state was essential,” the analyst says.
PEOPLE POWER The racial-justice uprising sparked by George Floyd’s killing in May was not primarily a political movement. The organizers who helped lead it wanted to harness its momentum for the election without allowing it to be co-opted by politicians. Many of those organizers were part of Podhorzer’s network, from the activists in battleground states who partnered with the Democracy Defense Coalition to organizations with leading roles in the Movement for Black Lives.
The best way to ensure people’s voices were heard, they decided, was to protect their ability to vote. “We started thinking about a program that would complement the traditional election-protection area but also didn’t rely on calling the police,” says Nelini Stamp, the Working Families Party’s national organizing director. They created a force of “election defenders” who, unlike traditional poll watchers, were trained in de-escalation techniques. During early voting and on Election Day, they surrounded lines of voters in urban areas with a “joy to the polls” effort that turned the act of casting a ballot into a street party. Black organizers also recruited thousands of poll workers to ensure polling places would stay open in their communities.
The summer uprising had shown that people power could have a massive impact. Activists began preparing to reprise the demonstrations if Trump tried to steal the election. “Americans plan widespread protests if Trump interferes with election,” Reuters reported in October, one of many such stories. More than 150 liberal groups, from the Women’s March to the Sierra Club to Color of Change, from Democrats.com to the Democratic Socialists of America, joined the “Protect the Results” coalition. The group’s now defunct website had a map listing 400 planned postelection demonstrations, to be activated via text message as soon as Nov. 4. To stop the coup they feared, the left was ready to flood the streets.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS About a week before Election Day, Podhorzer received an unexpected message: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wanted to talk.
The AFL-CIO and the Chamber have a long history of antagonism. Though neither organization is explicitly partisan, the influential business lobby has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaigns, just as the nation’s unions funnel hundreds of millions to Democrats. On one side is labor, on the other management, locked in an eternal struggle for power and resources.
But behind the scenes, the business community was engaged in its own anxious discussions about how the election and its aftermath might unfold. The summer’s racial-justice protests had sent a signal to business owners too: the potential for economy-disrupting civil disorder. “With tensions running high, there was a lot of concern about unrest around the election, or a breakdown in our normal way we handle contentious elections,” says Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. These worries had led the Chamber to release a pre-election statement with the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based CEOs’ group, as well as associations of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, calling for patience and confidence as votes were counted.
But Bradley wanted to send a broader, more bipartisan message. He reached out to Podhorzer, through an intermediary both men declined to name. Agreeing that their unlikely alliance would be powerful, they began to discuss a joint statement pledging their organizations’ shared commitment to a fair and peaceful election. They chose their words carefully and scheduled the statement’s release for maximum impact. As it was being finalized, Christian leaders signaled their interest in joining, further broadening its reach.
The statement was released on Election Day, under the names of Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and the heads of the National Association of Evangelicals and the National African American Clergy Network. “It is imperative that election officials be given the space and time to count every vote in accordance with applicable laws,” it stated. “We call on the media, the candidates and the American people to exercise patience with the process and trust in our system, even if it requires more time than usual.” The groups added, “Although we may not always agree on desired outcomes up and down the ballot, we are united in our call for the American democratic process to proceed without violence, intimidation or any other tactic that makes us weaker as a nation.”
SHOWING UP, STANDING DOWN Election night began with many Democrats despairing. Trump was running ahead of pre-election polling, winning Florida, Ohio and Texas easily and keeping Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania too close to call. But Podhorzer was unperturbed when I spoke to him that night: the returns were exactly in line with his modeling. He had been warning for weeks that Trump voters’ turnout was surging. As the numbers dribbled out, he could tell that as long as all the votes were counted, Trump would lose.
The liberal alliance gathered for an 11 p.m. Zoom call. Hundreds joined; many were freaking out. “It was really important for me and the team in that moment to help ground people in what we had already known was true,” says Angela Peoples, director for the Democracy Defense Coalition. Podhorzer presented data to show the group that victory was in hand.
While he was talking, Fox News surprised everyone by calling Arizona for Biden. The public-awareness campaign had worked: TV anchors were bending over backward to counsel caution and frame the vote count accurately. The question then became what to do next.
The conversation that followed was a difficult one, led by the activists charged with the protest strategy. “We wanted to be mindful of when was the right time to call for moving masses of people into the street,” Peoples says. As much as they were eager to mount a show of strength, mobilizing immediately could backfire and put people at risk. Protests that devolved into violent clashes would give Trump a pretext to send in federal agents or troops as he had over the summer. And rather than elevate Trump’s complaints by continuing to fight him, the alliance wanted to send the message that the people had spoken.
So the word went out: stand down. Protect the Results announced that it would “not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary.” On Twitter, outraged progressives wondered what was going on. Why wasn’t anyone trying to stop Trump’s coup? Where were all the protests?
Podhorzer credits the activists for their restraint. “They had spent so much time getting ready to hit the streets on Wednesday. But they did it,” he says. “Wednesday through Friday, there was not a single Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident like everyone was expecting. And when that didn’t materialize, I don’t think the Trump campaign had a backup plan.”
Activists reoriented the Protect the Results protests toward a weekend of celebration. “Counter their disinfo with our confidence & get ready to celebrate,” read the messaging guidance Shenker-Osorio presented to the liberal alliance on Friday, Nov. 6. “Declare and fortify our win. Vibe: confident, forward-looking, unified–NOT passive, anxious.” The voters, not the candidates, would be the protagonists of the story.
The planned day of celebration happened to coincide with the election being called on Nov. 7. Activists dancing in the streets of Philadelphia blasted Beyoncé over an attempted Trump campaign press conference; the Trumpers’ next confab was scheduled for Four Seasons Total Landscaping outside the city center, which activists believe was not a coincidence. “The people of Philadelphia owned the streets of Philadelphia,” crows the Working Families Party’s Mitchell. “We made them look ridiculous by contrasting our joyous celebration of democracy with their clown show.”
The votes had been counted. Trump had lost. But the battle wasn’t over.
THE FIVE STEPS TO VICTORY In Podhorzer’s presentations, winning the vote was only the first step to winning the election. After that came winning the count, winning the certification, winning the Electoral College and winning the transition–steps that are normally formalities but that he knew Trump would see as opportunities for disruption. Nowhere would that be more evident than in Michigan, where Trump’s pressure on local Republicans came perilously close to working–and where liberal and conservative pro-democracy forces joined to counter it.
It was around 10 p.m. on election night in Detroit when a flurry of texts lit up the phone of Art Reyes III. A busload of Republican election observers had arrived at the TCF Center, where votes were being tallied. They were crowding the vote-counting tables, refusing to wear masks, heckling the mostly Black workers. Reyes, a Flint native who leads We the People Michigan, was expecting this. For months, conservative groups had been sowing suspicion about urban vote fraud. “The language was, ‘They’re going to steal the election; there will be fraud in Detroit,’ long before any vote was cast,” Reyes says.
He made his way to the arena and sent word to his network. Within 45 minutes, dozens of reinforcements had arrived. As they entered the arena to provide a counterweight to the GOP observers inside, Reyes took down their cell-phone numbers and added them to a massive text chain. Racial-justice activists from Detroit Will Breathe worked alongside suburban women from Fems for Dems and local elected officials. Reyes left at 3 a.m., handing the text chain over to a disability activist.
As they mapped out the steps in the election-certification process, activists settled on a strategy of foregrounding the people’s right to decide, demanding their voices be heard and calling attention to the racial implications of disenfranchising Black Detroiters. They flooded the Wayne County canvassing board’s Nov. 17 certification meeting with on-message testimony; despite a Trump tweet, the Republican board members certified Detroit’s votes.
Election boards were one pressure point; another was GOP-controlled legislatures, who Trump believed could declare the election void and appoint their own electors. And so the President invited the GOP leaders of the Michigan legislature, House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey, to Washington on Nov. 20.
It was a perilous moment. If Chatfield and Shirkey agreed to do Trump’s bidding, Republicans in other states might be similarly bullied. “I was concerned things were going to get weird,” says Jeff Timmer, a former Michigan GOP executive director turned anti-Trump activist. Norm Eisen describes it as “the scariest moment” of the entire election.
The democracy defenders launched a full-court press. Protect Democracy’s local contacts researched the lawmakers’ personal and political motives. Issue One ran television ads in Lansing. The Chamber’s Bradley kept close tabs on the process. Wamp, the former Republican Congressman, called his former colleague Mike Rogers, who wrote an op-ed for the Detroit newspapers urging officials to honor the will of the voters. Three former Michigan governors–Republicans John Engler and Rick Snyder and Democrat Jennifer Granholm–jointly called for Michigan’s electoral votes to be cast free of pressure from the White House. Engler, a former head of the Business Roundtable, made phone calls to influential donors and fellow GOP elder statesmen who could press the lawmakers privately.
The pro-democracy forces were up against a Trumpified Michigan GOP controlled by allies of Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, and Betsy DeVos, the former Education Secretary and a member of a billionaire family of GOP donors. On a call with his team on Nov. 18, Bassin vented that his side’s pressure was no match for what Trump could offer. “Of course he’s going to try to offer them something,” Bassin recalls thinking. “Head of the Space Force! Ambassador to wherever! We can’t compete with that by offering carrots. We need a stick.”
If Trump were to offer something in exchange for a personal favor, that would likely constitute bribery, Bassin reasoned. He phoned Richard Primus, a law professor at the University of Michigan, to see if Primus agreed and would make the argument publicly. Primus said he thought the meeting itself was inappropriate, and got to work on an op-ed for Politico warning that the state attorney general–a Democrat–would have no choice but to investigate. When the piece posted on Nov. 19, the attorney general’s communications director tweeted it. Protect Democracy soon got word that the lawmakers planned to bring lawyers to the meeting with Trump the next day.
Reyes’ activists scanned flight schedules and flocked to the airports on both ends of Shirkey’s journey to D.C., to underscore that the lawmakers were being scrutinized. After the meeting, the pair announced they’d pressed the President to deliver COVID relief for their constituents and informed him they saw no role in the election process. Then they went for a drink at the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. A street artist projected their images onto the outside of the building along with the words THE WORLD IS WATCHING.
That left one last step: the state canvassing board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans. One Republican, a Trumper employed by the DeVos family’s political nonprofit, was not expected to vote for certification. The other Republican on the board was a little-known lawyer named Aaron Van Langevelde. He sent no signals about what he planned to do, leaving everyone on edge.
When the meeting began, Reyes’s activists flooded the livestream and filled Twitter with their hashtag, #alleyesonmi. A board accustomed to attendance in the single digits suddenly faced an audience of thousands. In hours of testimony, the activists emphasized their message of respecting voters’ wishes and affirming democracy rather than scolding the officials. Van Langevelde quickly signaled he would follow precedent. The vote was 3-0 to certify; the other Republican abstained.
After that, the dominoes fell. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the rest of the states certified their electors. Republican officials in Arizona and Georgia stood up to Trump’s bullying. And the Electoral College voted on schedule on Dec. 14.
HOW CLOSE WE CAME There was one last milestone on Podhorzer’s mind: Jan. 6. On the day Congress would meet to tally the electoral count, Trump summoned his supporters to D.C. for a rally.
Much to their surprise, the thousands who answered his call were met by virtually no counterdemonstrators. To preserve safety and ensure they couldn’t be blamed for any mayhem, the activist left was “strenuously discouraging counter activity,” Podhorzer texted me the morning of Jan. 6, with a crossed-fingers emoji.
Trump addressed the crowd that afternoon, peddling the lie that lawmakers or Vice President Mike Pence could reject states’ electoral votes. He told them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” Then he returned to the White House as they sacked the building. As lawmakers fled for their lives and his own supporters were shot and trampled, Trump praised the rioters as “very special.”
It was his final attack on democracy, and once again, it failed. By standing down, the democracy campaigners outfoxed their foes. “We won by the skin of our teeth, honestly, and that’s an important point for folks to sit with,” says the Democracy Defense Coalition’s Peoples. “There’s an impulse for some to say voters decided and democracy won. But it’s a mistake to think that this election cycle was a show of strength for democracy. It shows how vulnerable democracy is.”
The members of the alliance to protect the election have gone their separate ways. The Democracy Defense Coalition has been disbanded, though the Fight Back Table lives on. Protect Democracy and the good-government advocates have turned their attention to pressing reforms in Congress. Left-wing activists are pressuring the newly empowered Democrats to remember the voters who put them there, while civil rights groups are on guard against further attacks on voting. Business leaders denounced the Jan. 6 attack, and some say they will no longer donate to lawmakers who refused to certify Biden’s victory. Podhorzer and his allies are still holding their Zoom strategy sessions, gauging voters’ views and developing new messages. And Trump is in Florida, facing his second impeachment, deprived of the Twitter and Facebook accounts he used to push the nation to its breaking point.
As I was reporting this article in November and December, I heard different claims about who should get the credit for thwarting Trump’s plot. Liberals argued the role of bottom-up people power shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly the contributions of people of color and local grassroots activists. Others stressed the heroism of GOP officials like Van Langevelde and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, who stood up to Trump at considerable cost. The truth is that neither likely could have succeeded without the other. “It’s astounding how close we came, how fragile all this really is,” says Timmer, the former Michigan GOP executive director. “It’s like when Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff–if you don’t look down, you don’t fall. Our democracy only survives if we all believe and don’t look down.”
Democracy won in the end. The will of the people prevailed. But it’s crazy, in retrospect, that this is what it took to put on an election in the United States of America.
–With reporting by LESLIE DICKSTEIN, MARIAH ESPADA and SIMMONE SHAH
Correction appended, Feb. 5: The original version of this story misstated the name of Norm Eisen’s organization. It is the Voter Protection Program, not the Voter Protection Project. The original version of this story also misstated Jeff Timmer’s former position with the Michigan Republican Party. He was the executive director, not the chairman.
This appears in the February 15, 2021 issue of TIME.
President Trump gave the following address at the March to Save America at the on January 6 about noon.
Media will not show the magnitude of this crowd, even I when I turned on today, I looked and I saw thousands of people here.
But you don’t see hundreds of thousands of people behind you because they don’t want to show that we have hundreds of thousands of people here. And I just want them to be recognized by the fake news media.
Turn your cameras, please, and show what’s really happening out here, because these people are not going to take it any longer. They’re not going to take it any longer.
Go ahead. Turn your cameras, please. Would you show they came from all over the world, actually, but they came from all over the country. I just really want to see what they do.
I just want to see how they cover it. I’ve never seen anything like it, but, it would be really great if we could be covered fairly by the media, the media is the biggest problem we have as far as I’m concerned, single biggest problem, the fake news and the big tech, big tech is now coming into their own. We beat them four years ago. We surprised them. We took them by surprise and this year they rigged it election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before. And by the way, last night, they didn’t do a bad job either, if you notice. I’m honest and I just again, I want to thank you. It’s just a great honor to have this kind of crowd and to be before you and hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic. All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they’re doing and stolen by the fake news media.
That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen.
You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.
Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will ‘stop the steel.’ Today, I will lay out just some of the evidence proving that we won this election and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election. You know, I say sometimes jokingly, but there’s no joke about it. I’ve been in two elections. I won them both. And the second one, I won much bigger than the first. OK. Almost seventy five million people voted for our campaign, the most of any incumbent president by far in the history of our country, 12 million more people than four years ago.
And I was told by the real pollsters, we do have real pollsters, they know that we were going to do well and we were going to win.
Well. I was told if I went from sixty three million, which we had four years ago, to sixty six million, there was no chance of losing. Well, we didn’t go to sixty six, we went to seventy five million and they say we lost. We didn’t lose.
And by the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes? does anybody believe that?
He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that. You could take Third World countries, just take a look, take third world countries. Their elections are more honest than what we’ve been going through in this country.
It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace.
Even when you look at last night, they’re all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes and nobody knows what the hell is going on.
There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen, not going to let it happen.
And I’d love to have if those tens of thousands of people would be allowed — the military, the Secret Service that we want to thank you and the police, law enforcement, great, you’re doing a great job — but I’d love it if they could be allowed to come up here with us.
Is that possible? Can you just let them come up, please?
And Rudy, you did a great job.
He’s got guts, you know what, he’s got guts, unlike a lot of people in the Republican Party. He’s got guts, he fights, he fights.
And I’ll tell you. Thank you very much, John. Fantastic job. I watched… that’s a tough act to follow those two.
John is one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country, and he looked at this and he said, ‘What an absolute disgrace that this can be happening to our Constitution.’ And he looked at Mike Pence, and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing.
I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All he has to do, all this is from the number one or certainly one of the top constitutional lawyers in our country, he has the absolute right to do it — we’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our constitution and protect our Constitution — states want to revoke, the state’s got defrauded, they were given false information, they voted on it.
Now they want to recertify, they want it back.
All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president, and you are the happiest people. And I actually I just spoke to Mike, I said, Mike, that doesn’t take courage.
What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage.
And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that for four more years.
We’re just not going to let that happen. Many of you have traveled from all across the nation to be here.
And I want to thank you for the extraordinary love — that’s what it is, there’s never been a movement like this ever, ever — for the extraordinary love for this amazing country and this amazing movement. Thank you.
By the way, this goes all the way back past the Washington Monument, you believe this? Look at this.
Unfortunately, they gave the press the prime seats, I can’t stand. But you look at that behind, I wish they’d flip those cameras and look behind you.
That is the most amazing sight. When they make a mistake, you get to see it on television. Amazing. Amazing. All the way back.
And don’t worry, we will not take the name off the Washington Monument. We will not cancel culture. You know, they wanted to get rid of the Jefferson Memorial, either take it down or just put somebody else in there. I don’t think that’s going to happen. It damn well better not.
Although with this administration, if this happens, it could happen. You’ll see some really bad things happen. They’ll knock out Lincoln, too, by the way, they’ve been taking his statue down. But then we signed a little law. You hurt our monuments, you hurt our heroes. You go to jail for 10 years and everything stopped. You notice that it stopped.
It all stopped.
And they could use Rudy back in New York City. Rudy, they could use you. Your city is going to hell. They want Rudy Giuliani back in New York. We’ll get a little younger version of Rudy. Is that OK, Rudy?
We gathered together in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.
You know, most candidates on election evening and of course, this thing goes on so long, they still don’t have any idea what the votes are.
We still have congressional seats under review. They have no idea. They’ve totally lost control. They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election.
But, you know, you know, when you see this and when you see what’s happening, number one, they all say, sir, we will never let it happen again.
I said, that’s good, but what about eight weeks ago? You know, they try and get you to go.
They say, sir, in four years, you’re guaranteed. I said, I’m not interested right now. Do me a favor. Go back eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let’s go back eight weeks.
We want to go back and we want to get this right because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there and our country will be destroyed and we’re not going to stand for that.
For years, Democrats have gotten away with election fraud and weak Republicans, and that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans and we have great ones – Jim Jordan and some of these guys, they’re out there fighting, the House guys are fighting. But it’s incredible. Many of the Republicans I helped them get in. I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected.
I helped… I could name twenty four of them, let’s say. I won’t bore you with it. And then all of a sudden you have something like this and it’s like, oh, gee, maybe I’ll talk to the president sometime later.
No, it’s amazing, they’re weak Republicans, they’re pathetic Republicans. And that’s what happens.
If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on.
There’d be hell all over the country. But just remember this: you’re stronger, you’re smarter, you’ve got more going than anybody. And they try and demean everybody having to do with us. And you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation.
You’re not the people that tore down our nation.
The weak Republicans, and that’s it, I really believe it, I think I’m going to use the term the weak Republicans, you got a lot of them and you got a lot of great ones, but you’ve got a lot of weak ones. They’ve turned a blind eye even as Democrats enacted policies that chipped away our jobs, weakened our military, threw open our borders and put America last. Did you see the other day where Joe Biden said, ‘I want to get rid of the America first policy?’ What’s that all about? Get rid of? How do you say I want to get rid of America first?
Even if you’re going to do it, don’t talk about it. Right?
Unbelievable what we have to go through.
What we have to go through and you have to get your people to fight, and if they don’t fight, we have to ‘primary’ the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them.
We’re going to, we’re going to let you know who they are.
I can already tell you, frankly. But this year, using the pretext of the China virus and the scam of mail-in ballots, Democrats attempted the most brazen and outrageous election theft — and there’s never been anything like this — so, pure theft in American history. Everybody knows it, that election, our election was over at 10 o’clock in the evening. We’re leading Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia by hundreds of thousands of votes. And then late in the evening or early in the morning, boom, these explosions of bullshit.
And all of a sudden, all of a sudden, it started to happen.
Don’t forget when Romney got beat, Romney, hey, did you see his I wonder if he enjoyed his flight in last night, but when Romney got beaten, you know, he stands up like, you’re more typical, ‘well, I’d like to congratulate the victor.’ The victor? Who is the victor, Mitt? I’d like to congratulate… They don’t go and look at the facts. Now, I don’t know. He got he got slaughtered. Probably, maybe, it was OK. Maybe it was…that’s what happened. But we look at the facts and our election was so corrupt that in the history of this country, we’ve never seen anything like it.
You can go all the way back. You know, America is blessed with elections. All over the world, they talk about our elections. You know what the world says about us now. They said we don’t have free and fair elections. And you know what else? We don’t have a free and fair press.
Our media is not free. It’s not fair. It suppresses thought. It suppresses speech. And it’s become the enemy of the people. It’s become the enemy of the people. It’s the biggest problem we have in this country.
No third world countries would even attempt to do what we caught them doing. And you’ll hear about that in just a few minutes. Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people.
And we’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.
Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.
And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down anyone you want. But I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol.
And we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen-and-women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.
I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four year period. We’ve set it on a much straighter course, a much…and I thought, you know, four more years. I thought it would be easy. We created the greatest economy in history. We rebuilt our military. We get you the biggest tax cuts in history, right? We got you the biggest regulation cuts.
There’s no president, whether it’s four years, eight years or in one case, more, got anywhere near the regulation cuts. [It] used to take 20 years to get a highway approved. Now we’re down to two. I want to get it down to one, but we’re down to two.
And it may get rejected for environmental or safety reasons, but we got it down to safety. We created Space Force. Look at what we did.
Our military has been totally rebuilt. So we create Space Force, which by and of itself is a major achievement for an administration. And with us, it’s one of so many different things. Right to try everybody know about, right to try. We did things that nobody ever thought possible. We took care of our vets, our vets. The VA now has the highest rating, ninety one percent, the highest rating that it’s had from the beginning.
Ninety one percent approval rating. Always you watch the VA, it was on television every night, people living in a horrible, horrible manner. We got that done. We got accountability done. We got it so that now in the VA, you don’t have to wait for four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, four months to see a doctor. If you can’t get a doctor, you go outside. You get the doctor, you have them taken care of, and we pay the doctor. And we’ve not only made life wonderful for so many people, we’ve saved tremendous amounts of money, far secondarily, but we’ve saved a lot of money and now we have the right to fire bad people in the VA. We had 9000 people that treated our veterans horribly. In primetime, they would not have treated our veterans badly, but they treated our veterans horribly and we have what’s called the VA Accountability Act. And the accountability says, if we see somebody in there that doesn’t treat our vets well or they steal, they rob, they do things badly, we say, Joe, you’re fired. Get out of here. Before you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t do that before. So we’ve taken care of things. We’ve done things like nobody’s ever thought possible.
And that’s part of the reason that many people don’t like us because we’ve done too much, but we’ve done it quickly. And we were going to sit home and watch a big victory and everybody had us down for a victory. It was going to be great. And now we’re out here fighting. I said to somebody I was going to take a few days and relax after our big electoral victory. Ten o’clock it was over. But I was going to take a few days, and I can say this: Since our election, I believe — which was such a catastrophe when I watch and even these guys knew what happened, they know what happened. They’re saying, wow, Pennsylvania is insurmountable. Wow. Wisconsin, look at the big leads we had, right — even though the press said we could lose Wisconsin by 17 points, even though the press said Ohio’s going to be close, we set a record.
Florida is going to be close. We set a record. Texas is going to be close.
Texas is going to be close, we set a record and we set our record with Hispanic, with the black community, we set a record with everybody. Today we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event going to take place and I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did, never forget.
We should never, ever forget.
With only three of the seven states in question, we win the presidency of the United States. And by the way, it’s much more important today than it was twenty four hours ago because, and don’t…I spoke to David Perdue, what a great person, and Kelly Loeffler, two great people. But it was a setup and, you know, I said, we have no backline anymore. The only backline, the only line of demarcation, the only line that we have is the veto of the President of the United States.
So this is now what we’re doing, a far more important election than it was two days ago.
I want to thank the more than one hundred and forty members of the House – those are warriors, they’re over there working like you’ve never seen before. Studying, talking. Actually going all the way back, studying the roots of the Constitution because they know we have the right to send the bad vote that was illegally gotten, they gave these people bad things to vote for and they voted because what did they know? And then when they found out a few weeks later, again, it took them four years to devise this screed. And the only unhappy person in the United States, single most unhappy is Hillary Clinton, because she said, why didn’t you do this for me four years ago?
Why didn’t you do this for me four years ago? Change the votes, 10000 in Michigan.
You could have changed the whole thing, but she’s not too happy, you notice you don’t see her anymore. What happened? Where’s Hillary? Where is she?
But I want to thank all of those congressmen-and-women. I also want to thank our 13 most courageous members of the US Senate, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Ron Johnson, Senator Josh Hawley, Kelly Loeffler and Kelly Loeffler, I’ll tell you, she has been, she’s been so great, she’s worked so hard, so let’s give her and David a little special hand because it was rigged against him. Let’s give her and David, Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue.
They fought a good race. They never had a shot. That equipment should never have been allowed to be used.
And I was telling these people, don’t let them use this stuff. Marsha Blackburn, terrific person, Mike Braun, Indiana, Steve Daines, great guy, Bill Hagerty, John Kennedy, James Lankford, Cynthia Lummis, Tommy Tuberville, to the coach, and Roger Marshall, we want to thank them, Senators who have stepped up. We want to thank them.
I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up, and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out and you better start looking at your leadership because your leadership has led you down the tubes.
You know, [they said] ‘we don’t want to give two thousand dollars to people.’
We want to give them six hundred dollars.’ Oh, great. How does that play politically? Pretty good? and this has nothing to do with politics.
But how does it play politically? China destroyed these people, we didn’t destroy. China destroyed them, totally destroyed them. ‘We want to give them six hundred dollars.’ And they just wouldn’t change. I said give them two thousand dollars, we’ll pay it back, will pay it back fast. You already owe twenty six trillion. Give them a couple of bucks, let them live.
But I just say, look, you got to let people live. And how does that play, though? OK, number one, it’s the right thing to do, but how does that play politically?
I think it’s the primary reason, one of the primary reasons, the other was just pure cheating, that was the primary, super primary, reason. But you can’t do that. Got use your head.
As you know, the media has constantly asserted the outrageous lie that there was no evidence of widespread fraud. You ever see these people? ‘While there is no evidence of fraud’… Oh, really. I’m going to read you pages. I hope you don’t get bored listening to it. Promise? Don’t get bored listening to it. All those hundreds of thousands of people back there. Move them up, please. All these people, don’t get bored, don’t get angry at me because you’re going to get bored because it’s so much, the American people do not believe the corrupt fake news anymore. They have ruined their reputation. But, you know, it used to be that they’d argue with me, I’d fight. So I’d fight, they’d fight, I’d fight, they’d fight, bop, bop. You’d believe me, you’d believe them, somebody comes out, you know, they had their point of view. I had my point of view. But you’d have an argument. Now, what they do is they go silent. It’s called suppression, and that’s what happens in a communist country. That’s what they do, they suppress. You don’t fight with them anymore unless it’s a bad story. They have a little bad story about me. They make it ten times worse and it’s a major headline. But Hunter Biden, they don’t talk about him. What happened to Hunter? Where is Hunter? Where is Hunter? They don’t talk about him.
Now watch, all the sets will go off. Well, they can’t do that because they get good ratings. The ratings are too good. Now, where’s Hunter? You know, and how come Joe is allowed to give a billion dollars of money to get rid of the prosecutor in Ukraine? How does that happen? I’d ask you that question. How does that happen? Can you imagine if I said that? If I said that it would be a whole different ball game? And how come Hunter gets three and a half million dollars from the mayor of Moscow’s wife? And gets, hundreds of thousands of dollars to sit on an energy board, even though he admits he has no knowledge of energy. And millions of dollars up front and how come they go into China and they leave with billions of dollars to manage? ‘Have you managed money before?’ ‘No, I haven’t.’ ‘Oh, that’s good. Here’s about three billion.’ No, they don’t talk about that. No, we have a corrupt media, they’ve gone silent, they’ve gone dead. I now realize how good it was if you go back 10 years, I realize how good, even though I didn’t necessarily love them, I realized how good it was, it was like a cleansing motion, right? But we don’t have that anymore. We don’t have a fair media anymore. It’s suppression. And you have to be very careful with that. And they’ve lost all credibility in this country.
We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we’ve been forced to believe. Over the past several weeks we’ve amassed overwhelming evidence about a fake election. This is the presidential election. Last night was a little bit better because of the fact that we had a lot of eyes watching one specific state, but they cheated like hell anyway. You have one of the dumbest governors in the United States. And, you know, when I endorsed him — I didn’t know this guy— at the request of David Perdue, he said, he’s a friend of mine is running for governor. ‘What’s his name?’ And you know, the rest. He was in fourth place. Fifth place, I don’t know. He was way [down], he was doing poorly. I endorsed him. He went like a rocket ship and he won.
And then I had to beat Stacey Abrams with this guy, Brian Kemp. I had to beat Stacey Abrams and I had to beat Oprah. Used to be a friend of mine. You know, I was on her last show her last week. She picked the five outstanding people. I don’t think she thinks that anymore. Once I ran for president, I didn’t notice there were too many calls coming in from Oprah. Believe it or not, she used to like me, but I was one of the five outstanding people. And I had a campaign against Michelle Obama and Barack Hussein Obama against Stacy and I had Brian Kemp — he weighs one hundred and thirty pounds — he said he played offensive line and football. I’m trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to figure that out. He said the other night ‘I was an offensive lineman.’ I’m saying really, that must have been a very small team. But I look at that and I look at what’s happened, and he turned out to be a disaster.
This stuff happens, you know. Look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. I picked three people.
I fought like hell for them, one in particular, I fought. They all said, sir, cut him loose, he’s killing the senators, you know, very loyal senators. They’re very loyal people. Sir, cut him loose. He’s killing us, Sir. Cut him loose, Sir. I must have gotten half of the senators.
I said, no, I can’t do that. It’s unfair to him and it’s unfair to the family. He didn’t do anything wrong. They made up stories, they’re all made up stories, he didn’t do anything wrong. Cut him loose, Sir. I said, no, I won’t do that. We got him through. And you know what, they couldn’t give a damn, they couldn’t give a damn. Let him rule the right way. But it almost seems that they’re all going out of their way to hurt all of us and to hurt our country, to hurt our country.
You know, I read a story in one of the newspapers recently how I control the three Supreme Court justices.
I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me. And I said, you know, it really is genius because what they do is that…and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory because all of a sudden, Bill Barr changed, if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr, but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney. And the Supreme Court, they rule against me so much. You know why? Because the story is — I haven’t spoken to any of them, any since virtually they got in — but the story is that they’re my puppet, right?
That they’re puppets. And now the only way they can get out of that, because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit, that the only way they get out is to rule against Trump.
So let’s rule against Trump and they do that. So I want to congratulate them. But it shows you the media’s genius. In fact, probably if I was the media, I’d do it the same way. I hate to say it, but we got to get them straightened out. Today for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of our Constitution and for the sake of our children, we lay out the case for the entire world to hear.
Do you want to hear it? In every single swing state, local officials, state officials, almost all Democrats made illegal and unconstitutional changes to election procedures without the mandated approvals by the state legislatures. That these changes pave the way for fraud on a scale never seen before, and I think we can go a long way outside of our country when I say that.
So just in a nutshell, you can’t make a change on voting for a federal election unless the state legislature approves it. No judge can do it. Nobody can do it. Only a legislature. So as an example, in Pennsylvania or whatever, you have a Republican legislature, you have a Democrat mayor, and you have a lot of Democrats all over the place. They go to the legislature. The legislature laughs at them, says we’re not going to do that. They say thank you very much. And they go and make the changes themselves. They do it anyway. And that’s totally illegal. That’s totally illegal. You can’t do that.
In Pennsylvania, the Democrat secretary of state and the Democrat state Supreme Court justices illegally abolished the signature verification requirements just 11 days prior to the election. So think of what they did. No longer is there signature verification. Oh, that’s OK. We want voter ID, by the way, but no longer is there signature verification. 11 days before the election, they say we don’t want it. You know why they don’t want it? Because they want to cheat. That’s the only reason. Who would even think of that? We don’t want to verify a signature? There were over two hundred and five thousand more ballots counted in Pennsylvania. Now, think of this. You had two hundred and five thousand more ballots, then you had voters. That means you had two…where did they come from? You know, where they came from, somebody’s imagination, whatever they needed. So in Pennsylvania, you had two hundred and five thousand more votes than you had voters. And the number is actually much greater than that now. That was as of a week ago and this is a mathematical impossibility unless you want to say it’s a total fraud. So Pennsylvania was defrauded. Over 8000 ballots in Pennsylvania were cast by people whose names and dates of birth match individuals who died in 2020 and prior to the election. Think of that. Dead people. Lots of dead people, thousands and some dead people actually requested an application. That bothers me even more. Not only are they voting, they want an application to vote. One of them was twenty nine years ago died. It’s incredible. Over 14000 ballots were cast by out-of-state voters, so these are voters that don’t live in the state. And by the way, these numbers are what they call outcome determinative, meaning these numbers far surpass, I lost by a little bit. These numbers are massive, massive. More than 10000 votes in Pennsylvania were illegally counted even though they were received after Election Day.
In other words, they were received after Election Day. Let’s count them anyway. And what they did in many cases is they did fraud. They took the date and they moved it back so that it no longer is after Election Day.
And more than 60000 ballots in Pennsylvania were reported received back. They got back before they were ever supposedly mailed out. In other words, you got the ballot back before you mailed it.
Which is also logically and logistically impossible, right? Think of that one.
You got the ballot back. Let’s send the ballots so they’ve already been so. But we got the ballot back before they were sent. I don’t think that’s too good, right. Twenty five thousand ballots in Pennsylvania were requested by nursing home residents, all in a single giant batch, not legal, indicating an enormous illegal ballot harvesting operation. You’re allowed to do. It’s against the law. The day before the election, the state of Pennsylvania reported the number of absentee ballots that had been set out. Yet this number was suddenly and drastically increased by four hundred thousand people.
It was increased. Nobody knows where it came from by four hundred thousand ballots, one day after the election. It remains totally unexplained. They said, well, we can’t figure that. Now, that’s many, many times what it would take to overthrow the state. Just that what element.
Four hundred thousand ballots appeared from nowhere right after the election. By the way, Pennsylvania has now seen all of this. They didn’t know because it was so quick.
They had a vote. They voted, but now they see all this stuff. It’s all come to light. Doesn’t happen that fast.
And they want to recertify their votes. They want to recertify. But the only way that can happen is if Mike Pence agrees to send it back.
Mike Pence has to agree to send it back.
And many people in Congress want to send it back. And think of what you’re doing. Let’s say you don’t do it, somebody says, well, we have to obey the Constitution and you are because you’re protecting our country and you’re protecting the Constitution. So you are. But think of what happens. Let’s say they’re stiffs and they’re stupid people and they say, well, we really have no choice.
Even though Pennsylvania and other states want to redo their votes, they want to see the numbers, they already have the numbers, go very quickly and they want to redo. Their legislature, because many of these votes were taken, as I said, because it wasn’t approved by the legislature, you know. That in itself is like…and then you have the scam and that’s all of the things that we’re talking about. But think of this. If you don’t do that, that means you will have a president of the United States for four years with his wonderful son. You will have a president who lost all of these states or you will have a president, to put it another way, who was voted on by a bunch of stupid people who lost all of these states. You will have an illegitimate president, that’s what you’ll have, and we can’t let that happen.
These are the facts that you won’t hear from the fake news media. It’s all part of the suppression effort. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to talk about it. In fact, when I started talking about that, I guarantee you a lot of the television sets and a lot of those cameras went off and that’s a lot of cameras back there, but a lot of them went off. But these are the things you don’t hear about. You don’t hear what you just heard. I’m going to go over a few more states, but you don’t hear it by the people who want to deceive you and demoralize you and control you — big tech media — just like the suppression polls that said we’re going to lose Wisconsin by 17 points.
Well, we won Wisconsin. They don’t have it that way because I lost by just a little sliver. But they had me down the day before — Washington Post ABC poll — down 17 points. I called up a real pollster. I said, what is that? Sir, that’s called a suppression poll. I think you’re going to win Wisconsin, Sir. I said, but what are they? Make it four or five points because then people vote. But when you’re down 17, they say, hey, I’m not going to waste my time. I love the president, but there’s no way.
Despite that, despite that, we won Wisconsin. You’ll see. But that’s called suppression, because a lot of people, when they see that, it’s very interesting. This pollster said, Sir, if you’re down three, four or five people vote. When you go down 17, they say, let’s save, let’s go and have dinner and let’s watch the presidential defeat tonight on television, darling. And just like the radical left tries to blacklist you on social media, every time I put out a tweet, even if it’s totally correct, totally correct, I get a flag. I get a flag and they also don’t let you get out. You know, on Twitter, it’s very hard to come on to my account. It’s very hard to get out a message. They don’t let the message get out nearly like they should. But I’ve had many people say, I can’t get on your Twitter. I don’t care about Twitter. Twitter’s bad news. They’re all bad news. But you know what? If you want to get out a message and if you want to go through a big tech social media, they are really, if you’re a conservative, if you’re a Republican, if you have a big voice, I guess they call it a shadowban, right? Shadowban, they shadowban you.
And it should be illegal. I’ve been telling these Republicans, get rid of Section 230. And for some reason, Mitch and the group, they don’t want to put it in there and they don’t realize that that’s going to be the end of the Republican Party as we know it, but it’s never going to be the end of us, never. Let them get out.
Let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength. They also want to indoctrinate your children in school by teaching them things that aren’t so, they want to indoctrinate your children. It’s all part of the comprehensive assault on our democracy. And the American people are finally standing up and saying, no. This crowd is again a testament to it. I did no advertising. I did nothing. You do have some groups that are big supporters. I want to thank that, Amy and everybody. We have some incredible supporters. Incredible. But we didn’t do anything. This just happened. Two months ago, we had a massive crowd come down to Washington. I said, what are they there for? Sir, they’re there for you. We have nothing to do with it. These groups they’re forming all over the United States. And we got to remember, in a year from now, you’re going to start working on Congress and we got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheney’s of the world. We got to get rid of them.
We got to get rid.
You know, she never wants a soldier brought home. Twenty, I brought a lot of our soldiers home, I don’t know, somewhat like it. They’re in countries that nobody even knows the name. Nobody knows where they are. They’re dying. They’re great, but they’re dying. They’re losing their arms, their legs, their face. I brought them back home, largely back home. Afghanistan, Iraq. Remember I used to say in the old days, don’t go in Iraq, but if you go in, keep the oil. We didn’t keep the oil. So stupid, so stupid. These people. And Iraq has billions and billions of dollars now in the bank.
And what did we do? We got nothing. We never get…but we do actually. We kept the oil here. We did good. We got rid of the ISIS caliphate. We got rid of plenty of different things that everybody knows and the rebuilding of our military in three years.
People said it couldn’t be done and it was all made in the USA, all made in the USA. Best equipment in the world. In Wisconsin, corrupt Democrat-run cities deployed more than five hundred illegal, unmanned, unsecured drop boxes, which collected a minimum of ninety one thousand unlawful votes, it was razor-thin the loss. One thing alone is much more than we would need. But there are many things.
They have these lock boxes and you know, that pick them up and they disappear for two days. People would say, where’s that box that disappeared? Nobody even knew where the hell it was. In addition, over one hundred and seventy thousand absentee votes were counted in Wisconsin without a valid absentee ballot application. So they had a vote, but they had no application. And that’s illegal in Wisconsin, meaning those votes were blatantly done in opposition to state law. And they came one hundred percent from Democrat areas such as Milwaukee, and Madison, one hundred percent. In Madison, seventeen thousand votes were deposited in so-called human drop boxes, you know what that is, right, where operatives stuffed thousands of unsecured ballots into duffel bags on park benches across the city in complete defiance of cease and desist letters from state legislature.
Your state legislature said, don’t do it. They’re the only ones that can approve it.
They gave tens of thousands of votes. They came in and duffel bags. Where the hell did they come from? According to eyewitness testimony, Postal Service workers in Wisconsin were also instructed to illegally backdate approximately 100000 ballots. The margin of difference in Wisconsin was less than 20 thousand votes, each one of these things alone wins us the state, great state. We love the state. We won the state. In Georgia, your secretary of state, who I can’t believe this guy is a Republican, he loves recording telephone conversations, you know, that was a…I thought it was a great conversation personally, so did a lot of others, people loved that conversation because it says what’s going on. These people are crooked. They’re one hundred percent, in my opinion, one of the most corrupt, between your governor and your secretary of state, and now you have it again last night. Just take a look at what happened. What a mess. And the Democrat Party operatives entered into an illegal and unconstitutional settlement agreement that drastically weakened signature verification and other election security procedures.
Stacey Abrams. She took them to lunch. And I beat her two years ago with a bad candidate, Brian Kemp. But they took…the Democrats, took the Republicans to lunch because the secretary of state had no clue what the hell was happening, unless he did have a clue.
That’s interesting. Maybe he was with the other side, but we’ve been trying to get verifications of signatures in Fulton County.
They won’t let us do it. The only reason they won’t is because we’ll find things in the hundreds of thousands. Why wouldn’t they let us verify signatures in Fulton County, which is known for being very corrupt? They won’t do it. They go to some other county where you would live. I said that’s not the problem. The problem is Fulton County, home of Stacey Abrams.
She did a good job. I congratulate her. But it was done in such a way that we can’t let this stuff happen. We won’t have a country if it happens.
As a result, Georgia’s absentee ballot rejection rate was more than 10 times lower than previous levels because the criteria was so off. Forty eight counties in Georgia with thousands and thousands of votes, rejected zero ballots. There wasn’t one ballot. In other words, in a year in which more mail-in ballots were sent than ever before and more people were voting by mail for the first time, the rejection rate was drastically lower than it had ever been before. The only way this can be explained is if tens of thousands of illegitimate votes were added to the tally.
That’s the only way you could explain it. By the way, you’re talking about tens of thousands.
If Georgia had merely rejected the same number of unlawful ballots as in other years, they should have been approximately forty five thousand ballots rejected, far more than what we needed to win just over 11000.
They should find those votes. They should absolutely find that. Just over 11000 votes, that’s all we need. They defrauded us out of a win in Georgia and we’re not going to forget it.
There’s only one reason the Democrats could possibly want to eliminate signature matching oppose voter I.D. and stop citizenship confirmation. Are you a citizen? You’re not allowed to ask that question. Because they want to steal the election. The radical left knows exactly what they’re doing, they’re ruthless, and it’s time that somebody did something about it.
And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now, I’m not hearing good stories.
In Fulton County, Republican poll watchers rejected, in some cases physically, from the room under the false pretense of a pipe burst — water main burst, everybody leave — which we now know was a total lie. Then election officials pulled boxes, Democrats and suitcases of ballots out from under a table — you all saw it on television, totally fraudulent — and illegally scanned them for nearly two hours, totally unsupervised, tens of thousands of votes. This act coincided with a mysterious vote dump of up to one hundred thousand votes for Joe Biden, almost none for Trump. Oh, that sounds fair. That was at 1:34 a.m. The Georgia secretary of state and pathetic governor of Georgia average…although he says I’m a great president, you know, I sort of maybe have to change, he said the other day. Yes, I do. I disagree with the president, but he’s been a great president. Oh, good, thanks, thank you very much. Because of him and others, yeah, Brian, can’t vote him the hell out of office, please. Well, his rates are so low, you know, his approval rating now, I think it just reached a record low. They’ve rejected five separate appeals for an independent and comprehensive audit of signatures in Fulton County. Even without an audit, the number of fraudulent ballots that we’ve identified across the state is staggering. Over ten thousand three hundred ballots in Georgia were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth matched Georgia residents who died in 2020 and prior to the election. More than two thousand five hundred ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match incarcerated felons in Georgia prison, people who are not allowed to vote. More than four thousand five hundred illegal ballots were cast by individuals who do not appear on the state’s own voter rolls. Over eighteen thousand illegal ballots were cast by individuals who registered to vote using an address listed as vacant, according to the Postal Service. At least eighty eight thousand ballots in Georgia were cast by people whose registrations were illegally backdated. Sixty six thousand votes, each one of these is far more than we need.
Sixty six thousand votes in Georgia were cast by individuals under the legal voting age, and at least 15000 thousand ballots were cast by individuals who moved out of the state prior to the November 3rd election. They say they moved right back. They move right back. Oh, they moved out. They moved right back. OK, they missed Georgia’s that much. I do. I love Georgia, but it’s a corrupt system.
Despite all of this, the margin in Georgia is only eleven thousand seven hundred and seventy nine votes. Each and every one of these issues is enough to give us a victory in Georgia, a big, beautiful victory. Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you, from me and from the country, and not a single swing state has conducted a comprehensive audit to remove the illegal ballots. This should absolutely occur in every single contested state before the election is certified. In the state of Arizona, over thirty six thousand ballots were illegally cast by non-citizens. 2000 ballots were returned with no address. More than twenty two thousand ballots were returned before they were ever supposedly mailed out. They returned, but we haven’t mailed them yet. Eleven thousand six hundred more ballots and votes were counted more than there were actual voters. You see that? So you have more votes again than you have voters. One hundred and fifty thousand people registered in Maricopa County after the registration deadline. One hundred and three thousand ballots in the county were sent for electronic adjudication with no Republican observers. In Clark County, Nevada, the accuracy settings on signature verification machines were purposely lowered before they were used to count over one hundred and thirty thousand ballots. If you sign your name as Santa Claus, it would go through.
There were also more than forty two thousand double votes in Nevada, over one hundred and fifty thousand people were hurt so badly by what took place, and fifteen hundred ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match Nevada residents who died in 2020 prior to the November 3rd election. More than a thousand votes were cast by individuals who had no address and probably didn’t live there. The margin in Nevada is down at a very low number. Any of these things would have taken care of the situation. We would have won Nevada also. Every one of these were going over. We win. In Michigan quickly, the secretary of state, a real great one, flooded the state with unsolicited mail-in ballot applications sent to every person on the rolls in direct violation of state law. More than seventeen thousand Michigan ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match people who were deceased.
In Wayne County, that’s a great one, that’s Detroit, one hundred and seventy four thousand ballots were counted without being tied to an actual registered voter. Nobody knows where they came from. Also in Wayne County, poll watchers observed canvassers re-scanning batches of ballots over and over again, up to three or four or five times. In Detroit, turnout was 139 percent of registered voters. Think of that. So you had 139 percent of the people in Detroit voting. This is in Michigan. Detroit, Michigan. A career employee of the Detroit, city of Detroit, testified under penalty of perjury that she witnessed city workers coaching voters to vote straight Democrat while accompanying them to watch who they voted for. When a Republican came in, they wouldn’t talk to them. The same worker was instructed not to ask for any voter I.D. and not to attempt to validate any signatures if they were Democrats. She also [was] told to illegally and was told [to] backdate ballots received after the deadline and reports that thousands and thousands of ballots were improperly backdated. That’s Michigan. Four witnesses have testified under penalty of perjury that after officials in Detroit announced the last votes had been counted, tens of thousands of additional ballots arrived without required envelopes. Every single one was for a Democrat. I got no votes. At 6:31 a.m. in the early morning hours after voting had ended, Michigan suddenly reported one hundred and forty seven thousand votes. An astounding 94 percent went to Joe Biden, who campaigned brilliantly from his basement. Only a couple of percentage points went to Trump. Such gigantic and one-sided vote dumps were only observed in a few swing states and they were observed in the states where it was necessary. You know, it’s interesting, President Obama beat Biden in every state other than the swing states where Biden killed them, but the swing states were the ones that mattered. They’re always just enough to push Joe Biden barely into the lead. We were ahead by a lot and within a number of hours we were losing by a little.
In addition, there is the highly troubling matter of Dominion voting systems. In one Michigan county alone, 6000 votes were switched from Trump to Biden, and the same systems are used in the majority of states in our country. Senator William Ligon, a great gentleman, chairman of Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, Senator Ligon, highly respected on elections, has written a letter describing his concerns with Dominion in Georgia. He wrote, and I quote, ‘The Dominion voting machines employed in Fulton County had an astronomical and astounding 93.67 percent error rate’ — it’s only wrong 93 percent of the time — ‘in the scanning of ballots requiring a review panel to adjudicate or determine the voter’s interest in over one hundred and six thousand ballots out of a total of one hundred and thirty thousand.’ Think of it: you go in and you vote and then they tell people who you’re supposed to be voting for, they make up whatever they want. Nobody’s ever even heard. They adjudicate your vote. They say, well, we don’t think Trump wants to vote for Trump. We think he wants to vote for Biden. Put it down for Biden. The national average for such an error rate is far less than one percent, and yet you’re at 93 percent. ‘The source of this astronomical error rate must be identified to determine if these machines were set up or destroyed to allow for a third party to disregard the actual ballot cast by the registered voter.’ The letter continues:
‘There is clear evidence that tens of thousands of votes were switched from President Trump to former Vice President Biden in several counties in Georgia. For example, in Bibb County, President Trump was reported to have twenty nine thousand three hundred ninety one votes at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time, while simultaneously Vice President Joe Biden was reported to have seventeen thousand two thirteen. Minutes later’ — just minutes — ‘at the next update, these vote numbers switched with President Trump going way down to seventeen thousand and Biden going way up to twenty nine thousand three ninety one.’ — and that was very quick — ‘a twelve thousand vote switch, all in Mr Biden’s favor.’
So, I mean, I could go on and on about this fraud that took place in every state. And all of these legislatures want this back.
I don’t want to do it to you because I love you and it’s freezing out here. But I could just go on forever. I can tell you this. So when you hear, when you hear, while there is no evidence to prove any wrongdoing, this is the most fraudulent thing anybody said. This is a criminal enterprise. This is a criminal enterprise, and the press will say, and I’m sure they won’t put any of that on that because that’s not good. And, did you ever see, ‘while there is no evidence to back President Trump’s assertion’ – I could go on for another hour reading this stuff to you and telling you about it. There’s never been anything like it. Think about it. Detroit had more votes than it had voters. Pennsylvania had two hundred and five thousand more votes than it had more. But you don’t have to go any…between that, I think that’s almost better than dead people, if you think, right? More votes than they had voters, and many other states also. It’s a disgrace that the United States of America, tens of millions of people, are allowed to go vote without so much as even showing identification. In no state is there any question or effort made to verify the identity, citizenship, residency or eligibility of the votes cast.
The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher.
They want to play so straight. They want to play so ‘Sir, yes, the United States the Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the States.’ Well, I say yes, it does, because the Constitution says you have to protect our country and you have to protect our Constitution and you can’t vote on fraud.
And fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it?
When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he does listen to the rhinos and the stupid people that he’s listening to. It is also widely understood that the voter rolls are crammed full of non-citizens, felons and people who have moved out of state and individuals who are otherwise ineligible to vote. Yet Democrats oppose every effort to clean up their voter rolls. They don’t want to clean them up. They’re loaded. And how many people here know other people that when the hundreds of thousands and then millions of ballots got sent out, got three, four, five, six, and I heard one who got seven ballots? And then they say, ‘you didn’t quite make it, Sir.’
Ah, we won in a landslide. This was a landslide.
They said it’s not American to challenge the election. This is the most corrupt election in the history maybe of the world. You know, you could go third world countries, but I don’t think they had hundreds of thousands of votes, and they don’t have voters for them, I mean, no matter where you go, nobody would think this, in fact it’s so egregious, it’s so bad that a lot of people don’t even believe it. It’s so crazy that people don’t even believe it. ‘It can’t be true.’ So they don’t believe it. This is not just a matter of domestic politics. This is a matter of national security. So today, in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on Congress and the state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms and you better do it before we have no country left.
Today is not the end. It’s just the beginning. With your help over the last four years, we built the greatest political movement in the history of our country and nobody even challenges that. I say that over and over. And I never get challenged by the fake news, and they challenge almost everything we say. But our fight against the big donors, big media, big tech and others is just getting started. This is the greatest in history. There’s never been a movement like that. You look back there all the way to the Washington Monument, it’s hard to believe. We must stop the steal and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again. But we’re going forward. We’ll take care of going forward. We got to take care of going back. Don’t let them talk, ‘OK, well, we promise.’ I’ve had a lot of people, ‘Sir, you’re at 96 percent for four years.’
I said I’m not interested right now. I’m interested in right there. With your help, we will finally pass powerful requirements for voter ID. You need an ID to cash a check. You need an ID to go to a bank, to buy alcohol, to drive a car. Every person should need to show an ID in order to cast your most important thing, a vote.
We will also require proof of American citizenship in order to vote in American elections.
We just had a good victory in court on that one, actually. We will ban ballot harvesting and prohibit the use of unsecured drop boxes to commit rampant fraud. These drop boxes are fraudulent. They disappear and then all of a sudden they show up, it’s fraudulent. We will stop the practice of universal unsolicited mail-in balloting. We will clean up the voter rolls that ensure that every single person who cast a vote is a citizen of our country, a resident of the state in which they vote and their vote is cast in a lawful and honest manner. We will restore the vital civic tradition of in-person voting on Election Day so that voters can be fully informed when they make their choice.
We will finally hold big tech accountable. And if these people had courage and guts, they would get rid of Section 230, something that no other company, no other person in America, in the world, has.
All of these tech monopolies are going to abuse their power and interfere in our elections, and it has to be stopped and the Republicans have to get a lot tougher and so should the Democrats. They should be regulated, investigated, and brought to justice under the fullest extent of the law.
They’re totally breaking the law.
Together, we will drain the Washington swamp and we will clean up the corruption in our nation’s capital. We have done a big job on it. But you think it’s easy. It’s a dirty business. It’s a dirty business. You have a lot of bad people out there. Despite everything we’ve been through looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds, although this I think is our all-time record, I think you have two hundred and fifty thousand people, two hundred and fifty thousand, looking out at all the amazing patriots here today, I have never been more confident in our nation’s future.
Well, I have to say, we have to be a little bit careful, that’s a nice statement, but we have to be a little careful with that statement.
If we allow this group of people to illegally take over our country, because it’s illegal when the votes are illegal, when the way they got there is illegal, when the states that vote are given false and fraudulent information.
We are the greatest country on earth, and we are headed and we’re headed in the right direction, you know, the wall is built, we’re doing record numbers at the wall now, they want to take down the wall, ‘let’s let everyone flow in. Let’s let everybody flow in.’
We did a great job in the wall. Remember the wall? They said it could never be done, one of the largest infrastructure projects we’ve ever had in this country. And it’s had a tremendous impact. We’ve got rid of catch and release. We got rid of all of the stuff that we had to live with.
But now the caravan’s — they think Biden’s getting in — the caravans of forming again. They want to come in again and rip off our country. Can’t let it happen. As this enormous crowd shows, we have truth and justice on our side. We have a deep and enduring love for America in our hearts. We love our country. We have overwhelming pride in this great country and we have a deep in our souls. Together, we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our brightest days are before us, our greatest achievements still await. I think one of our great achievements will be election security, because nobody until I came along had any idea how corrupt our elections were.
And again, most people would stand there at nine o’clock in the evening and say, I want to thank you very much. And they go off to some other life.
But I said something’s wrong here. Something’s really wrong. Can’t have happened. And we fight. We fight like hell.
And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.
Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun.
My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children and for our beloved country, and I say this despite all that’s happened, the best is yet to come.
So we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they’re never voting for anything. Not even one vote — but we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all.
God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all for being here. This is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.
“And God said, let there be… And there was… and God saw that it was good.”
Thus unfolds the most revolutionary as well as the most influential account of creation in the history of the human spirit.
In Rashi’s commentary, he quotes Rabbi Isaac who questioned why the Torah should start with the story of creation at all. Given that it is a book of law – the commandments that bind the children of Israel as a nation – it should have started with the first law given to the Israelites, which does not appear until the twelfth chapter of Exodus.
Rabbi Isaac’s own answer was that the Torah opens with the birth of the universe to justify the gift of the Land of Israel to the People of Israel. The Creator of the world is ipso facto owner and ruler of the world. His gift confers title. The claim of the Jewish people to the land is unlike that of any other nation. It does not flow from arbitrary facts of settlement, historical association, conquest or international agreement (though in the case of the present state of Israel, all four apply). It follows from something more profound: the word of God Himself – the God acknowledged, as it happens, by all three monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is a political reading of the chapter. Let me suggest another (not incompatible, but additional) interpretation.
One of the most striking propositions of the Torah is that we are called on, as God’s image, to imitate God. “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2):
The sages taught: “Just as God is called gracious, so you be gracious. Just as He is called merciful, so you be merciful. Just as He is called holy, so you be holy.” So too the prophets described the Almighty by all the various a tributes: long-suffering, abounding in kindness, righteous, upright, perfect, mighty and powerful and so on – to teach us that these qualities are good and right and that a human being should cultivate them, and thus imitate God as far as we can.
Implicit in the first chapter of Genesis is thus a momentous challenge: Just as God is creative, so you be creative. In making man, God endowed one creature – the only one thus far known to science – with the capacity not merely to adapt to his environment, but to adapt his environment to him; to shape the world; to be active, not merely passive, in relation to the influences and circumstances that surround him:
The brute’s existence is an undignified one because it is a helpless existence. Human existence is a dignified one because it is a glorious, majestic, powerful existence…Man of old who could not fight disease and succumbed in multitudes to yellow fever or any other plague with degrading helplessness could not lay claim to dignity. Only the man who builds hospitals, discovers therapeutic techniques, and saves lives is blessed with dignity…Civilised man has gained limited control of nature and has become, in certain respects, her master, and with his mastery he has attained dignity as well. His mastery has made it possible for him to act in accordance with his responsibility.
The first chapter of Genesis therefore contains a teaching. It tells us how to be creative – namely in three stages. The first is the stage of saying “Let there be.” The second is the stage of “and there was.” The third is the stage of seeing “that it is good.”
Even a cursory look at this model of creativity teaches us something profound and counter-intuitive: What is truly creative is not science or technology per se, but the word. That is what forms all being.
Indeed, what singles out Homo sapiens among other animals is the ability to speak. Targum Onkelos translates the last phrase of Genesis 2:7, “God formed man out of dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature,” as “and man became ruaĥ memallelah, a speaking spirit.” Because we can speak, we can think, and therefore imagine a world different from the one that currently exists.
Creation begins with the creative word, the idea, the vision, the dream. Language – and with it the ability to remember a distant past and conceptualise a distant future – lies at the heart of our uniqueness as the image of God. Just as God makes the natural world by words (“And God said…and there was”) so we make the human world by words, which is why Judaism takes words so seriously: “Life and death are in the power of the tongue,” says the book of Proverbs (18:21). Already at the opening of the Torah, at the very beginning of creation, is foreshadowed the Jewish doctrine of revelation: that God reveals Himself to humanity not in the sun, the stars, the wind or the storm but in and through words – sacred words that make us co-partners with God in the work of redemption.
“And God said, let there be…and there was” – is, the second stage of creation, is for us the most difficult. It is one thing to conceive an idea, another to execute it. “Between the imagination and the act falls the shadow.” Between the intention and the fact, the dream and the reality, lies struggle, opposition, and the fallibility of the human will. It is all too easy, having tried and failed, to conclude that nothing ultimately can be achieved, that the world is as it is, and that all human endeavour is destined to end in failure.
This, however, is a Greek idea, not a Jewish one: that hubris ends in nemesis, that fate is inexorable and we must resign ourselves to it. Judaism holds the opposite, that though creation is difficult, laborious and fraught with setbacks, we are summoned to it as our essential human vocation: “It is not for you to complete the work,” said Rabbi Tarfon, “but neither are you free to desist from it.” There is a lovely rabbinic phrase: maĥashva tova HaKadosh barukh Hu meztarfah lema’aseh.
This is usually translated as “God considers a good intention as if it were the deed.” I translate it differently: “When a human being has a good intention, God joins in helping it become a deed,” meaning – He gives us the strength, if not now, then eventually, to turn it into achievement.
If the first stage in creation is imagination, the second is will. The sanctity of the human will is one of the most distinctive features of the Torah. There have been many philosophies – the generic name for them is determinisms – that maintain that the human will is an illusion. We are determined by other factors – genetically encoded instinct, economic or social forces, conditioned reflexes – and the idea that we are what we choose to be is a myth. Judaism is a protest in the name of human freedom and responsibility against determinism. We are not pre-programmed machines; we are persons, endowed with will. Just as God is free, so we are free, and the entire Torah is a call to humanity to exercise responsible freedom in creating a social world which honours the freedom of others. Will is the bridge from “Let there be” to “and there was.”
What, though, of the third stage: “And God saw that it was good”? This is the hardest of the three stages to understand. What does it mean to say that “God saw that it was good”? Surely, this is redundant. What does God make that is not good? Judaism is not Gnosticism, nor is it an Eastern mysticism. We do not believe that this created world of the senses is evil. To the contrary, we believe that it is the arena of blessing and good.
Perhaps this is what the phrase comes to teach us: that the religious life is not to be sought in retreat from the world and its conflicts into mystic rapture or nirvana. God wants us to be part of the world, fighting its battles, tasting its joy, celebrating its splendour. But there is more.
In the course of my work, I have visited prisons and centres for young offenders. Many of the people I met there were potentially good. They, like you and me, had dreams, hopes, ambitions, aspirations. They did not want to become criminals. Their tragedy was that often they came from dysfunctional families in difficult conditions. No one took the time to care for them, support them, teach them how to negotiate the world, how to achieve what they wanted through hard work and persuasion rather than violence and lawbreaking. They lacked a basic self-respect, a sense of their own worth. No one ever told them that they were good.
To see that someone is good and to say so is a creative act – one of the great creative acts. ere may be some few individuals who are inescapably evil, but they are few. Within almost all of us is something positive and unique, but which is all too easily injured, and which only grows when exposed to the sunlight of someone else’s recognition and praise. To see the good in others and let them see themselves in the mirror of our regard is to help someone grow to become the best they can be. “Greater,” says the Talmud, “is one who causes others to do good than one who does good himself.” To help others become what they can be is to give birth to creativity in someone else’s soul. This is done not by criticism or negativity but by searching out the good in others, and helping them see it, recognise it, own it, and live it.
“And God saw that it was good” – this too is part of the work of creation, the subtlest and most beautiful of all. When we recognise the goodness in someone, we do more than create it, we help it to become creative. This is what God does for us, and what He calls us to do for others.