Are we on the verge of the worst online political fight in the history of the medium? Certainly the nastiest one that has real consequences: in this case, the leadership of the most powerful country in the world. Donald Trump has already escalated his battle against a Democratic impeachment inquiry, making it deeply personal and feeding red meat to his supporters daily. As I lay out in Campaigns & Elections today, his latest tweets and Facebook ads are only the beginning of what’s likely to be a digital battle royale, which he’ll wage with no restraints:
Any Democrat, Republican or other public figure who supports impeachment should expect to be brutalized online, whether through Trump’s tweets, Facebook memes or direct messages from supporters via social media. Past misdeeds might not stay quiet for long, and it may not matter whether the dirt is real, since Trump supporters on social media and in the conservative press have shown little appetite for fact-checking in the past. We might not get to the level of deepfake videos, but based on experience, we can expect Trump to do everything he can drag his opponents down into the mud. In his eyes, his survival depends on it.
Looking beyond the social media for which his campaign is best known, expect Trump to mobilize his base to show up in person, with all the attendant potential for confrontation and violence. Will digital fundraising also support a TV blitz aimed at vulnerable Dems or wavering Republicans? Read the piece to explore these ideas and more. Meanwhile, I’ll be digging a foxhole — this thing is about to get real.