Brace yourself for the Next Big Liberal Meme, a logical extension of their ‘Trump Voters are Racist’, ‘Trump is a fascist’, and ‘Russians Hacked the Election’ memes. “How the Internet Threatens Democracy” is the title of Thomas Edsall’s latest column, featuring a picture of a Trump supporter, of course.
One can smell a coalescing on the Left, as they attempt to build cultural momentum toward some form of ‘oversight’ over political content in social media and, perhaps even more widely, the internet as a whole.
Edsall’s piece begins:
As the forces of reaction outpace movements predicated on the ideal of progress, and as traditional norms of political competition are tossed aside, it’s clear that the internet and social media have succeeded in doing what many feared and some hoped they would. They have disrupted and destroyed institutional constraints on what can be said, when and where it can be said and who can say it…
… They are contributing — perhaps irreversibly — to the decay of traditional moral and ethical constraints in American politics.
Edsall speaks to Scott Goodstein, the C.E.O. of Revolution Messaging, who has run online messaging for the campaigns of both Obama and Sanders. Goodstein first points out the virtues of the internet, which has been:
a great thing for getting additional layers of transparency. It was true for Donald Trump as it was for Bernie Sanders; the internet ended smoke-filled back rooms, deal-cutting moved from back room to a true campaign, with a more general population. Maybe an unwashed population, but that’s the beauty of American politics with 350 million people.
Okay, sounds rational and empirical, given the increasingly sharpened, political polarization (and dissipation of ‘centrism’) happening in the U.S. and Europe.
But HRC lost… so here comes the huge BUT…
There was a “horrible development on the internet” last year, says Goodstein:
In this cycle you saw hate speech retweeted and echoed, by partisan hacks, the Jewish star used in neo-Nazi posts. There is no governing body, so I think it’s going to get worse, more people jumping into the gutter.
In other words, back in ’08 and even 2012, when OFA’s Big Data online messaging & voter-targeting operations dwarfed anything the Republicans had, everything was kosher. But now that the Alt-Right is exceeding even the Dems in terms of memetics, we need a ‘governing body’ over online political content.
Edsall interviews several professors, most of them appearing to be paranoid Tribe members, such as NYU Law Professor Samuel Issacharoff:
In a phone interview, Issacharoff cited the emergence of internet-based methods of communication as a major contributing factor in the deterioration of political parties.
“Technology has overtaken one of the basic functions you needed political parties for in the past, communication with voters,” he said. “Social media has changed all of that, candidates now have direct access through email, blogs and Twitter,” along with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms.
A candidate can go around the MSM (who naturally filter events to fit their Narrative) and speak directly to the people!? Oh, the humanity!
We then get the usual ‘Russians hacked our election’ discussion, before Edsall asks:
The question now is who benefits more from the digital revolution and the ubiquity of social media, the left or the right?
Ah, to the heart of the matter. Who benefits? If the evidence suggested the Left was benefiting (as they did in the pre-internet days, when a Leftist MSM filtered all of our news information), Edsall probably wouldn’t be writing this column. After speaking to a couple of other scholars, Edsall concludes:
There is good reason to think that the disruptive forces at work in the United States — as they expand the universe of the politically engaged and open the debate to millions who previously paid little or no attention — may do more to damage the left than strengthen it.
Edsall quotes Sam Greene of King’s College London, who writes:
Our politics are vulnerable to nefarious influences — whether of the Kremlin variety or the Breitbart variety — not because our information landscape is open and fluid, but because voters’ perceptions have become untethered from reality.
So… now it becomes clearer why Edsall and the NYT Editorial Board is so anxious: