There are a lot of reasons that Donald Trump’s Big Lie about voter fraud in the 2020 election is among the most despicable political acts in U.S. history.
It’s poisoned the minds of millions of Americans—very likely permanently—into believing our elections can’t be trusted (unless Republicans win). It was the impetus for the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. It was the excuse to break the previously sacrosanct American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.
It’s tragic that this democracy-threatening hoax was perpetrated by a known compulsive liar—a corrupt businessman from a privileged upbringing, infamous for stiffing his working-class contractors. Trump had already falsely claimed a conspiracy of voter fraud in 2016 (the election he actually won), and then again for the entire 2020 presidential cycle when he blathered about unnamed forces conspiring to steal the election from him.
Both times he sent the implicit message to his supporters: No election result is valid unless I win. And they believed this incoherent charlatan.
The new documentary 2000 Mules (a Dinesh D’Souza Joint), is barely more credible than your average rando conspiracy theory video on YouTube, but its production values attach to it a superficial seriousness. The film’s intended audience will see a rational “just asking questions” kinda guy (D’Souza) talking with some ideological allies (like Charlie Kirk, Dennis Prager, Sebastian Gorka, and Larry Elder) who are merely concerned about voter integrity in the America they love.
But the bulk of the film consists of D’Souza’s highly dramatized explainer sessions with a couple of technological “experts” (also credited as executive producers) whose claims that they’ve used geotracking data to uncover thousands of vote-harvesting mules fall apart under the barest of scrutiny.
Surveillance footage of people taking selfies after dropping their votes in dropboxes is presented as “A-ha!” evidence—while ignoring the fact that people taking voter selfies was a mundanely common thing to do in 2020 (and for quite a few years prior).
Video clips of people dropping off a few ballots are presented as unimpeachable evidence of voter fraud, even though dropping ballots for family members was also common. And despite the repeated claims by the “experts” that they’ve tracked literally thousands of vote-dropping “mules”—not a single one of these supposed professional voter fraud foot soldiers is shown on screen making more than one drop.
These are all things that even D’Souza later admitted don’t actually don’t prove anything.
In a withering interview with The Washington Post’s Philip Bump, who told D’Souza his entire indictment of the election is based on speculation and that he’s “not making a persuasive case,” D’Souza replied, “I’m making a case that is completely persuasive to an independent observer who is not clouded, who is not trying to play defense attorney as you are for the Biden administration.”
And that gives away the whole game. Anyone who isn’t convinced by his evidence-bereft narrative that the election was stolen is either a “Biden defense attorney” or a cowardly Republican. (Early in the film, Dennis Prager is literally called a “coward” by one of his fellow right-wing panelists for saying he’s “agnostic” about voter fraud in the 2020 election.)
D’Souza complains throughout the film about Republicans who just want to “move on”—which includes all the Republican election officials who investigated voter fraud claims in critical swing states… and found absolutely nothing of note. He also whines about the Supreme Court (with a 6-3 majority and three Trump appointees) refusing to hear already-debunked claims of voter fraud.
But after making his case, through relentless repetition of innuendo and almost no verifiable facts, the MAGA brain trust (Prager, Kirk, et al) reappears near the end of the film. All of them are aghast (especially Prager), breathing heavily after absorbing all of D’Souza’s supposedly unimpeachable evidence of a vast, multi-state conspiracy carried out on a granular level by thousands of paid agents—none of whom have leaked their involvement to anyone, at all.
D’Souza’s whining extends beyond the film itself, and into coverage of the film. Or in the case of Fox News and Newsmax, the lack of coverage around 2000 Mules—likely because both networks have already been sued for pushing potentially slanderous Big Lie accusations against voting technology companies. (D’Souza’s white knight, Donald Trump, came to the film’s defense when he slammed Fox for ignoring “the greatest & most impactful documentary of our time.”)
But even a Trump-supporting right-wing firebreather like Ben Shapiro can’t bring himself to say D’Souza made a persuasive case with 2000 Mules, because the film’s central thesis simply isn’t backed by any supporting evidence—much less an overwhelming amount of verifiable, unimpeachable data.
There’s no reason to watch 2000 Mules, unless you really are looking to be well-equipped to argue with your MAGA relatives at Thanksgiving. The film isn’t meant to persuade anyone, it’s meant to reinforce the already passionate certainty in people who believe in something that simply does not exist.
It is a vile piece of agit-prop, pushing a falsehood that could very well tear our country apart. It’s also a very stupid movie, packaged as smart, fearless muckraking. In a sense, it’s a 90-minute safe space for MAGA snowflakes who can’t accept the fact that their hero is a loser.