Russia’s interference in political affairs across the world has morphed into a conspiracy that has captivated viewers in the western hemisphere. Many people think it’s a hoax designed by the “deep state.” Others believe it’s a true threat to democracy as we know it. The problem lies in the denial of truth when evidence is presented. The introduction and implementation of identity politics have created an atmosphere where confirmation bias thrives, and truth dies. What’s worst of all is our inability to detect deception when it’s delivered on our doorstep.
There’s an ongoing investigation into the Russian interference in both the US and French elections. While there isn’t any strong evidence suggesting the literal infiltration of the voting booths, there’s undeniable evidence that the Kremlin is actively seeking to mold the ideology of trans-Atlantic voters. Making the case becomes difficult as many producers of fake news and denial and deception tactics hide behind the walls of onion routing and VPNs. This makes it incredibly difficult to trace the origin of the content produced. Despite technologies designed to cloak these masters of puppets, various intelligence agencies have concluded that almost all of these attempts have Russian origins or ties.
In the United States, the first appearance of interference showed up in the hacking of the DNC and releasing of emails of many of their top officials. This sparked an FBI investigation that had a dramatic effect on the US election in 2016. Voters were constantly tuning into the talking heads on 24-hour news networks to hear the latest gaffs of Donald Trump and the latest scandals of Hillary Clinton. In the end, people preferred gaffs over scandals. But the scandals didn’t stop with Hillary Clinton. Just days after Trump’s inauguration, many Trump scandals began to emerge as well. Various “sources” reported through main stream media of one leak after another. This was met with one completely ridiculous response by the Trump administration after another. All the while, the congressional floor was working to pass a bill increasing the sanctions on the Kremlin in response to the election.
After Donald Trump signed the sanctions bill, though criticizing it, a new wave a fake news began to emerge. Intelligence agencies in the United States stated that over 600 Twitter accounts, said to be Russian bots and trolls, are directly responsible for two trending hashtags targeting the Trump administration. The first, #firemcmaster, quickly rose to be one of the top 10 hashtags on Twitter. In an interesting, yet unsurprising response, Trump supporters blamed the hashtag on the “Deep State” disregarding the information provided to them by trained professionals in the intelligence community that stated otherwise. This fake news campaign is designed to further disrupt and divide an already divided nation. It’s also designed to trigger a response by the Trump administration, creating a mainstream media feedback loop that is bound to cement the identity politics the US democracy has slid into. Additionally, it targets a member of Trump’s cabinet that was previously seen as an incredibly qualified selection on both sides of the aisle.
If the #firemcmaster tweet wasn’t enough, another hashtag appeared on Twitter shortly after. This one, #resignpaulryan, has gained even more attraction. With the latest news of Donald Trump’s proposed ‘legal immigration’ policy, many members of the GOP have presented opposition. Among those individuals is Paul Ryan. The Speaker of the House now faces opposition from the left and Trump’s base of supporters. With a Republican majority in the House and Senate, criticism of the Speaker sows major discontent within the GOP. While a few GOP representatives, John McCain and Lindsey Graham among them, are opposing almost every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth, the cracks in the GOP are destined to grow and whither the party within.
What many Trump supporters don’t understand is how short sighted their thinking is. Donald Trump will most likely be a one term president. Due to his age and lack of support among many moderates and Democrats, the likelihood of him even running, much less winning in 2020 is slim. If this portion of the population continues to succumb to the deceptive tactics of fake news and social media, they will effectively destroy the party that is the last man standing between them and the Democratic Party taking power. Many technologies with capabilities including voice manipulation and video manipulation are just over the horizon. If you can’t identify a fake news article online, what makes you think you’ll be able to spot a fake speech or video?