by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jim Geraghty offers National Review Online readers a realistic take on duplicitous Russian social media ads and their impact in the 2016 American elections.
You may recall that most of the social-media materials the Russians were posting were not sophisticated messages or images. If anything, they were so over-the-top that they seemed too ridiculous to be genuinely persuasive. I mean, if you’re swayed by an image that suggests that Hillary Clinton is the devil and she wants to get into a boxing match with Jesus Christ. . . I’m pretty sure you were probably leaning against her already. The woman’s gotten into a heck of a lot of scandals, but I don’t think she’s ever explicitly challenged the Son of God to get into the UFC Octagon with her.
And if Hillary Clinton supporters really want to argue that they lost the votes of a segment of progressives because Bernie Sanders supporters were persuaded by muscular-Bernie cartoons. . . look, if that’s really the case, then it’s not Russia’s, Trump’s, or the Republicans’ fault that a part of the Democratic base is a bunch of easily-distracted shallow idiots. If your voters are getting deterred by doodles, they never really were “your” voters.
How do you get someone to believe a lie? It’s much easier if the mark wants to believe before the con begins. Right now, we have a lot of Americans who are quite eager to believe the worst about prominent figures on the other side. They choose not to distinguish between “I strongly disagree with this person’s political views” and “this person is terrible in every conceivable way.” That’s why we have Americans convinced that Obama was born overseas, and why we have Americans who believe the “pee tape” and evidence of Trump conspiring with Vladimir Putin is out there somewhere.