In the article by Michelle Malkin, “Will Illegal Foreign Voters Steal the Election”, we are invited to share a glimpse into a world where we are led to believe that the November 2016 elections and subsequently the fate of our country hinges of the votes of illegals. It is Malkin’s contention that the participation of these illegal voters will have a direct impact on the election based on the proposed supposition that the volume of illegal voters in certain “swing” states would sway the vote from one candidate to the next. Specifically, these votes would shift the balance in favor of the democratic candidates, and in the most important case, the Presidential election, to Senator Hillary Clinton.
Malkin weaves a seemingly impressive tale to her audience initially focusing on her home state of Colorado with her initial literary salvo of the article stating “It could all come down to Colorado.” and its significance as a swing state for the Presidential election. She continues by paralleling the importance that if enough key states were to effectively tilt the majority, then in fact illegal voters will have determined the overall election.
Throughout the article the reader is led to believe that illegal voting is rampant, widespread, unmitigated, and tolerated as the status quo. The claims are supported throughout the article, as we are inundated with statistical information, including the author’s home state where she cites the sheer volume of illegal voters in the prior 2010 general election. The article touches upon many instances of support and evidence to her position in a somewhat cohesive fashion that times can seem like ramblings as well as the author injects her opinion or makes statements such as “because God forbid public officials sworn to uphold the rule of law actually do anything to enhance the integrity of our election system!” in an attempt to garner favor and consensus from the reader throughout the article.
The article mentions various instances across the country that on the surface support her assertions such as the example in Kansas where their Secretary of State attempted to enforce state legislation require citizenship proof when voting at a motor vehicle facility, but was eventually blocked by a federal court. Similarly, other states such as North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin have effectively removed voter ID laws as well. At the penultimate piece in the article, the author brings her point of view full circle by introducing and attaching a prominent name, in this case, billionaire George Soros, a well-known liberal democrat as the protagonist not only supporting the current perceived inequities surrounding the issue but attempting to further exploit and capitalize on them. In conclusion, the author appeals to our sense of patriotism with the following statement, “Making American elections American again” whilst simultaneously paraphrasing the catch line for the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Throughout the article, the author, Michelle Malkin attempts to persuade the reader to accept her premise that illegal voters will decide the election and the fate of this country and that we should eliminate that possibility at all costs or suffer dire consequences. Unfortunately, Malkin’s article suffers from multiple types of fallacies in argument from a legal textbook perspective and therefore this article should be viewed as more political fodder then journalism in my humble opinion.
There are three general types of fallacies in argument, they are, fallacies in reason, fallacies of appeal, and fallacies of language. We can examine each type of fallacy as all three are present within the article.
Fallacies of reason occur when an individual’s usage of logic to make their respective case is flawed for a variety of reasons. Within the article there are a few examples of fallacies of reason including the introduction of the irrelevant argument fallacy also known as Non Sequiturs when discussing the group Mi Familia Vota who are working to naturalize and register their voters. In this case the group, Mi Familia Vota, is working clearly in the parameter of the law to accomplish their task and the argument holds no merit as they are not supporting illegal voters in any shape or form. In multiple sections of the article Malkin is also guilty of hasty generalization which basically is defined as jumping to conclusions on limited information. This was evident when attempting to use statistics such as “upwards of 12,000 noncitizens registered to vote” when discussing Colorado or “that 6.4 percent of noncitizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of noncitizens voted in 2010.” when citing a study done by Old Dominion University. In neither case is the data useful in the support of the article but used solely for effect. The statistics stand alone as there is no basis to support or refute the statistics but more importantly there is no statistical relevance and association to be made from them in support of the author’s position.
Fallacies of appeal occur when an individual’s argument is based on a particular characteristic of their audience that is shared amongst a particular group. This is no clearer then at the beginning and end of the article. In the opening parts of the article and even in the title of the article Malkin uses the appeal to emotion when using the “sky is falling” axiom when inferring that the fate (impending doom) of our country will occur if illegal voting is not stopped. At the end of the article Malkin’s statement of “Making American elections American again” appeals to our sense of patriotic duty to support her position and is referred to as an appeal to tradition. Fallacies in language are introduced when language is used to support the respective position rather than the facts. Through the use of emotionally loaded language such as “because God forbid public officials sworn to uphold the rule of law actually do anything to enhance the integrity of our election system!”. In this instance, Malkin interjects her own personal views on the subject to attempt to alter the comprehension and subsequent belief and behavior of the audience.
Given the abundance of fallacies in argument discussed above, it is clear that the article by Miss Malkin is less interested in providing a compelling argument for her position based on facts and sound logical reasoning, but instead has chosen to mirror the journalism one would find in say the NY Post.