When I was a little girl, I adored Santa Claus. Despite my friends’ logical arguments to the contrary, I refused to surrender the myth. There was a sort of comfort, a naive sense of security and hope, in thinking there was a powerful being out there that could make all things right with the world. I did not want to give that up, not even when directly presented with the truth.
One Christmas Eve, I rolled over in bed and saw my dad coming down from the attic carrying a small table in his hands. He closed the attic door and descended the stairs to the living room. I thought nothing of it and went back to sleep. On Christmas morning, I discovered Santa had brought me a little table and chair to go with my play dishes and dolls. Clearly, this was the table I had seen my father carrying out of the attic. My friends were right about Santa; the proof was staring me in the face, but I didn’t see it. I happily played with the gifts Santa Claus had brought and gave no thought whatsoever to what I had seen the night before. You could have beaten me over the head with the table and chair, and I still would not have acknowledged the truth. On some level, I just didn’t want to. The magic world of Santa Claus was real; I believed it, and that was that.
The mind is a powerful thing. Often, we believe what we want to believe despite conflicting evidence. There’s even a technical term for this human tendency: selective perception bias. We pay close attention to evidence and arguments that support our own conclusions, and we discount evidence to the contrary. We make up our minds about someone or something and stubbornly resist opposing thought. My Christmas experience so long ago is a clear example of selective perception bias.
And so is a certain Republican president refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
It is, perhaps, less than seasonally benevolent to draw a parallel between Christmas and politics, but as President Trump has stated, “it is what it is.” Indeed, but selective perception bias prevents Trump and his supporters from seeing what it is. They don’t want to believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election; therefore, in their minds, the election was fraudulent. However, despite selective perception bias and fervent desire for a personally favorable outcome, truth is NOT subjective. The time has come to forego naivete and accept reality.
People can “speak their truth” freely in this country, but one’s personal truth, though very real to oneself, is not necessarily THE truth, supported by facts and evidence. Back in 2016, the Democrats’ truth was that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly have won the election. Fact: he did. In 2020, the Republicans’ truth is that Biden “stole” the election. Fact: he didn’t. Many, many years ago, a little girl’s truth was the existence of a magical man in a red suit. The little girl matured and accepted the evidence that disproved her personal truth. It’s time for the GOP to do the same.
At some point or another, we are all victims of our own minds and resist what we don’t want to be true. There comes a time, however, when existing in our own little worlds is detrimental to our health, and in this case, detrimental to our democracy. It’s time for the GOP to mature and cease playing mind games with their constituents. Like it or not, the evidence shows Joe Biden is the president-elect. Grow up already, and let’s get on with it.