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Democrats seek a return to pre-internet politics

By Rich Danker 

“They’re killing people,” Joe Biden said, when asked about social media’s role in vaccine hesitancy.  

For once, Biden didn’t stumble through his talking points. He doubled down on a Democratic plot to force the tech companies to censor negative information about the Covid vaccine, just like they did with Hunter Biden’s laptop

Thanks to a Republican-led legal challenge to Google’s ad duopoly with Facebook, Democrats sense leverage. They’re confident they can compel Facebook to do their bidding on vaccines and pave the way for the surging economy they badly need going into next year’s midterm elections.  

Hours before Biden dropped the hammer, his spokesperson Jen Psaki warned that Facebook and Twitter censorship alone wouldn’t be enough: 

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others,” she said. Psaki effectively mandated corporate collusion. 

LinkedIn – until recently a backwater of corny career self-promotion – got ahead of this when it suspended Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of mRNA vaccines, for his skeptical posts about Covid vaccines. He was reinstated a week later with an apology from the company, but it was a shot across the bow to other credentialed people more prone to embarrassment.  

Democrats are forcing the tech companies to make a choice: get on board with the party’s talking points or lose protection from populist Republicans looking to break up their business models. 

Now, Facebook and the rest will probably yield to this demand. Politics is a tranche of their content they can afford to spare, and it isn’t particularly helpful in attracting advertisers. They’re also afraid to cross Democrats, at least as long as they control Congress and the White House.  

There’s a larger idea behind this censorship campaign, and it stems from a political realignment over the last ten years that ultimately hurt Democrats. As smartphones quickly expanded from a luxury to mass market product starting last decade, voters became more knowledgeable about politics with the internet in their pocket. 

One by one, rural states threw out long-serving Democrats and replaced them with Republicans. Conservative voters were suddenly aware, thanks to friends’ Facebook posts, that they’d been represented for years by liberals pretending to agree with them.  

This poses a serious problem for Democrats because rural states have more proportional voting power. The Constitution grants every state the same two Senate seats that also convey electoral college votes. This is how Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 by a margin of ten states while losing the national popular vote by three million.  

In 2016, Democrats found the media was no longer their safety net in elections. Information was too hard to contain via smartphones and social media networks. Also, voters were far less pliable. Hillary Clinton admitted this in a rare moment of candor in an interview with Howard Stern

This strategy of pressuring Big Tech and reasserting control over traditional news media was hatched out of Trump’s surprise victory. The major newspapers and TV networks – needing support in Washington for their takeovers by political liabilities like Jeff Bezos and AT&T – went along with the effort to bring millions of runaway voters back into the fold. 

In 2020, to some extent, it worked. A chunk of married male voters flocked to Biden from Trump. Trump’s margin of victory with the bloc slid from 30 percentage-points down to 10 points. 

But the nonwhite voter groups less dependent on traditional media moved toward Trump in record numbers. These same groups are now in the crosshairs of the Biden Administration’s mass vaccination insistence. This has led to the White House to scapegoat their online news sources as purveyors of the plague of “misinformation.”  

Now, Democrats seek to restore the pre-internet age of politics when voters’ limited sources of information left them relatively uninformed. The internet, through the spread of smartphones, obliterated those boundaries. Voters willing to venture beyond the walled gardens of Facebook and Twitter can become as informed as they wish on topics like toxic spiked proteins within vaccines.  

Frustrated by the bounds of censorship, the left tries to turn the internet into a pre-internet construct. What else is woke culture but a surge of authoritarianism against novel expression? The left seeks total war against the internet because that’s the only way to neutralize it.  

This strategy requires single-minded thinking, constant policing, and exploitation of fear. Democrats have weaponized the human concern over losing one’s status in life into a culture unto its own. They dangle a safe harbor against cancellation, so voters abide by pre-internet limits of political discovery.

In that case, it’s no surprise that married men who have the most at risk professionally swung the hardest away from Trump.  

This pre-internet strategy of politics will fail because it’s inherently elitist. The networked public that arose out of the smartphone era has the Arab Spring, Brexit, and Trump to remind itself of the heady power that voters can exert over their establishment. 

It won’t give that back.  

Even against a walking, talking embodiment of the pre-internet era hectoring them from the White House.

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Rich Danker


Rich Danker worked in politics from 2010-2019 before entering the business world. He served in the Trump administration as a senior advisor at the U.S. Treasury and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission after running several federal election and advocacy campaigns. His writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and he was a columnist for Forbes.com.

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