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Opinion | Willful American stupidity: How Russia rigged the U.S. election


By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

This is how Russia manipulated a U.S. presidential election.

On Tuesday, my Facebook feed began filling up with posts about the Florida high school students who are leading the gun reform charge following the deadly shooting on their campus last week. Most of those posts were people in awe of the stature and bravery of the kids.

But other posts were disgusting.

And stupid.

Really, really stupid.

They wondered whether the kids were actors. They posted conspiracy theories about the kids receiving coaching, saying that they were rehearsing lines before their speeches. There were screen-grabs from previous news interviews and a fake yearbook picture.

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None of it was surprising, I suppose. Facebook in 2018 is a cesspool of stupidity, with “friends” apparently willing to believe damn near anything that scrolls past on their phone screen.

But what was a tad bit surprising was who was sharing this particular information.

There was an attorney. A few school teachers. A politician. A lobbyist. A member of law enforcement.

Think about that.

And just so you’re clear in your thinking, know this: the conspiracy theories are 100-percent false, and easily provable.

In a matter of seconds, I found posts from David Hogg, the student who is the subject of most of the conspiracy theories, talking about news at Marjory Stoneman High, the school where the shooting took place and where Hogg is the student news director.

Now, fully consider the ramification of people like those above — people who have considerable influence over others, people who, because of their jobs and education, are considered reliable sources of information — spreading such absolutely fake BS.

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And now you know how Russia did it.

That’s how we ended up with an unintelligent, semi-literate, narcissist bigot in the White House. Because so many people who wanted to vote conservative/Republican were willing to believe that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of the non-existent basement of New York City pizza joint.

Because believing that bat-guano insane theory was easier than admitting the truth or voting for a candidate from the other party or not “losing” the election.

And that’s what this is all really about — never having to admit that you were wrong or that you backed the wrong candidate or that your argument for arming everyone all the time was a tad bit insane.

And so, like Elder Price, American conservatives have dug in and decided to just believe … anything.

To the point that facts and reality have no bearing on what they believe.

Consider the average conservative’s views on who’s the better Christian man — Trump or Obama.

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Poll after poll, using a variety of questions, have found that a large majority of conservatives would pick Trump — an awful human who has bragged of cheating poor people out of money and sexually assaulting women, who has been accused by multiple women of assault, who has been credibly accused of two affairs, and who has been married three times.

And they’ll pick him over a devoted family man, who never sniffed of personal scandal in 20-plus years of public life, who devoted his early life to helping the poor and whose biggest flaw in the eyes of most conservatives was making sure poor people received medical care.   

With marks like that, it was easy for the Russian trolls on social media.

I do wonder if they ever get tired of being wrong all the time. I mean, just consider all of the absolute BS you’ve believed over the past couple of years.

That Obama was coming for your guns. That Hillary was dying. That Obama was a secret terrorist. That Sandy Hook didn’t happen. That there was a war on cops. That Mexico would pay for a wall. That Trump would release his tax returns. That George Soros is funding everything liberal. That coal jobs would magically return.

And now, here some of you are believing that these kids — with histories that are easily researched — are paid actors hired by Soros to steal your guns.

For God’s sakes, these poor kids in Florida should be celebrated as heroes, no matter what you think of their positions on gun control. They went through a horrible, horrible ordeal — an ordeal that featured their friends and their teachers shot dead around them by a madman with a semi-automatic war rifle — and instead of curling up in the fetal position or slipping into a depression, they’re trying to force change.

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That’s something to be celebrated, not subjected to more of your intentional ignorance.

I don’t know what Robert Mueller’s investigation will ultimately find in terms of collusion. But I do know this: If a good chunk of our population doesn’t take more pride in receiving and vetting information from reliable, trusted sources of news, it won’t matter.

With our current level of willful stupidity, we’ll remain easy targets.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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