… if you are doing what a lot of people are doing on the Internet. Being wrong!!!!
The Russian organized and operated trolls that will attempt to ruin the 2020 election will use this technique: They will sow divisions among Democrats so that the process of selecting the best candidate to go up against Trump will be so badly damaged that they can’t win.
How will they do this? By declaring particular candidates as not electable. By declaring that this or that candidate’s positions are entirely different than they actually are, in a way that makes potential supporters turn away. By causing friction among those who are otherwise allies or friends so that social networking communities are ripped asunder, and so on.
The thing is, something like 1 in 5 or maybe far fewer such apparent operatives are not actually Putin-deployed trolls. Rather, they are you, or others like you, who have fallen into this pattern. Time will tell if this pattern has been promulgated in small or large part as an arm of the Russian attack on our democracy, or if people are just acting this way because it is human nature. But it does not matter. Employing these and similar tactics in our public conversation about our candidates looks and works the same, and has the same effect, whether the act is bought and paid for by the Republican-Trump-Putin axis, or whether it happens all by itself.
Don’t be confused for a Putin Troll. Being like a Putin Troll is the same exact thing as being a Russian troll.
All the bad things people say
You can’t fairly judge a candidate based on what people on Facebook or Twitter tell you. Such comments are more often than not inaccurate, often purposefully so.
Claim: Candidate X thinks America is not ready for healthcare for all! Next!
Truth: Candidate X makes a clear statement that we need universal single payer healthcare. The same candidate then lists several possible steps to get there.
Claim: Candidate X is the only candidate that can beat Trump.
Truth: Most people can’t even name most of the candidates, and there has not been a single debate. There are candidates that haven’t even declared yet. There is simply no way to say who can beat whom. As a matter of fact, there is a pretty darn good chance Trump isn’t going to be the guy to beat anyway. He’ll be pushed out or removed or in some other way unavailable.
Please consider this strategy:
The election is so early that not all the candidates have even declared,and most are in fact unknown with respect to position or abilities, regardless of what you may think. So:
1) Wait to declare a candidate you prefer the best. If you like one candidate above the others, do go ahead and say nice things about that individual, but please do not write off the other candidates or attack people who have a different opinion.
2) Wait to write off individual candidates that you really don’t like. There is nothing wrong with having such an opinion, but for now, please do what your mother tried to teach you: If you have nothing good to say about someone, keep your stupid mouth shut for now (I’m sure she was thinking it that way, though she may have used other words).
3) Don’t repeat the trollish comments you hear. They are not hard to identify. A very smart and thoughtful friend of mine did this recently, the first example above is based on that. A candidate was attacked by a troll on twitter. The attack was very inaccruate. My friend simply repeated the attack. Don’t do that, makes you look like an idiot, and it amplifies the trollish message.
4) Don’t BELIEVE the trollish comments you hear. In the case mentioned above in Number 3, virtually no one seems to have responded to the recycled attack by questioning it. Make up your own damn mind with facts you have obtained from good sources and verified. It isn’t that hard. It is your responsibility, your job, to do this.
5) Remember where we are. We are at present BEFORE the beginning. This is not the time to weed out candidates. Take your time. Remember, there is a Democratic debate (probably two) in June. Wait until at least the debate to start weeding out candidates, and even then, be fucking civilized about it, not trollish. Please.
6) Please make the distinction between the process of selecting a nominee and running for president. There are important differences at many levels. A full third, in my estimation, of the embarrassingly stupid things people said during the 2018 race came out of ignorance of the difference.
7) Part of your message, your public opinion, should always be how you will support the nominee no matter what. Note that you can’t really say that now if you also say “I will never vote for Candidate X no matter what.” So stop saying the latter, always include the former. As part of this, please do not let the perfect stand in the way of the pretty darn good.
8) Do not complain about the system of selecting a nominee unless you are willing to spend at least a little time helping to select the nominee other than just showing up like a drone on Primary day. Stand up and do something. You are needed.