The Playbook for the 2020 Election Interference Operation: Part I

The immediate future of our country hinges upon the 2020 election. As I have discussed in my series Division, Inc, disrupting the 2020 election and propagating division is the intent of various actors both online and offline. I have been studying live influence ops for over two years. Back on September 9, 2019, I posted commentary online about a specific tactic I had been observing, time and again.

At the time, I had witnessed numerous cases where a multitude of bogus accounts were pushing conspiracies built around the Democratic National Committee. They were doing so on Reddit, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

The rhetoric would occasionally be stuck in 2016. They would use current events and twist them until they could be loosely connected to the DNC Wikileaks dumps from the previous presidential election. They are doggedly determined to use those Russian hacks to sow division. At the same time, some accounts would take rather innocuous events and allege that a DNC conspiracy was behind it.

Michael Tracey did the same, when he claimed, “DNC has rigged the primary such that Bernie can’t even get a glass of water.” This clearly does not make sense. But it does not matter if it makes sense. It doesn’t have to add up. The only thing that matters is that they put it in people’s heads. We’re over a year out from the election and they are already banging this drum very loudly. They had been subtly banging it since 2016 and are now being far noisier.

When the DNC cancelled the virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada over serious security concerns, a chorus of automated cries of “rigged” rang out. I imagine this spoiled their plans to use VPNs to exploit that system. But they can still exploit it from a different direction, if Democratic voters don’t understand their game plan.

When certain candidates didn’t make the cut for one of the debates, again their cries of conspiracy reverberated across the internet. Make no mistake, they will continue to push this narrative through the 2020 election. Why? Because their goal is to discourage potential Democratic voters from voting in the general election and to continue creating a massive fissure in the party, which only further divides our country.

And this is where Tulsi Gabbard can lend her voice, to legitimize the claims of Tracey, Maté and the many anon accounts spreading these messages. And October 10th, she did just that, by issuing an empty threat of a boycott (which she would decide against later) in order to relay a divisive message to the American people. She plainly stated that this was precisely what she was doing on her website.

In order to bring attention to this serious threat to our democracy, and ensure your voice is heard, I am giving serious consideration to boycotting the next debate on October 15th.

Her message legitimized all those previous messages that were being pushed online. She alleged:

In this 2020 election, the DNC and corporate media are rigging the election again, but this time against the American people in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

-Tulsi gabbard

She is plainly an agent of division and she is not working for the American people, as I discussed in this article. She is working hard to sow distrust among Democratic voters. She’s not offering solutions. There are no solutions offered in her statement. She’s not doing what she used to be so dedicated to doing in 2014, treating people with respect and working together to solve issues.

This is one of the ways hostile actors intend to suppress voter turnout or convert people into third-party voters, thus working to ensure two things: the continued division of our country and the reelection of Donald Trump. As Donald Trump is also an agent of division, his reelection would ensure that Americans continue to be driven apart, day by day.

This is part of the ongoing influence operation I have been writing about. It is not benign. It is slowly spreading, every day. And whether you are or are not a Gabbard supporter, if you heard her message, you are a target of that influence op. In the same way you are being targeted every time you see messaging on the internet that pushes this idea.

There is a reason this messaging works. It is because it plays into the biases of many potential voters. If your preferred candidate happens to not be the nominee and you’ve been repeatedly hearing about how this was all rigged for months, you might be inclined to believe that. It might make you so upset that you decide to stay home or vote for a third party. Or perhaps it might make you apathetic. It might make you think, “The whole system is rigged and what I want doesn’t even matter. Screw it.” Either way, the hostile influence op wins.

The only way it cannot win is if people know the tricks that are being used against them. Only when people understand the way that these ops are exploiting their pride and their biases can they see the illusion for what it is.

Before I delve into these next points, bear in mind that I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary and voted for Clinton in the general election. And I would gladly vote for a sentient mop to replace the mess that is currently occupying our White House.

These hostile ops will never remind you of the simple fact that Clinton was preferred by Democratic primary voters by a margin of over 3 million votes. Superdelegates could not even play a factor, unless we expected them to overturn the will of the people. And they will never point out that the superdelegate non-issue was remedied in 2018.

They want to replay 2016 and achieve the same outcome. They believe it worked, or else they would not be running that play again. The specific players can change, but the play works the same. And they surely believe it will work even better now, because they’ve had almost 3 more years to drive this message into people’s heads. This influence op has thus far been wildly successful. Look around and you’ll see many of your fellow Democratic supporters who have been influenced by it. They are not to blame. Influence operations are effective because they prey on known psychological tricks to achieve their aims. And with the help of legitimate people like Michael Tracey, Aaron Maté , and Tulsi Gabbard, among others, they become even more effective. Simply by checking in on these three people, you will be able to spot if their tactics are changing. They will tell you exactly how they intend to divide us, via their divisive rhetoric.

I will pick this back up in Part II.



Related: WHAT’S A MATÉ?