When identifying reasons for Trump’s win last week, there have been a legion of articles written. Many focus on topics such as a generalized anger and dissatisfaction with the elite, or the alienation of the working class. Some have pointed to Trump’s winning the white vote, with Van Jones famously complaining of a “whitelash.”
One overlooked factor, in my opinion, is social media. I believe that without the assistance of 4chan, Reddit, and Trump supporters on Twitter, we might not have won the election.
It’s a testimony to how nasty the ongoing ideological purges on the left have gotten that a place like 4chan would have ended up siding with the Republican Party. 4chan was originally created as an anonymous anime image board, and quickly morphed into a wild west of “shitposting” with some of the craziest people on the internet finding a home there. The board set up for politics, /pol/, become a haven for white nationalists, Neo-Nazis (both American and European), libertarians, anarchists, conspiracy theorists, and crazy people – those who couldn’t speak out about their beliefs in polite company could always rely on /pol/ to be there for them.
In my opinion, 4chan’s current political activism began with Gamergate and 4chan’s first serious encounter with SJWs. You will want to read my post which discusses SJW behavior to better understand why SJWs do what they do. When SJWs began trying to control and inject political content into video games while smearing gamers as sexist right wing bigots, gamers organized on 4chan and fought back, conducting mass emailing campaigns to the advertisers of SJW mouthpieces like Gawker, which led the charge against gamers.
Gamergate was very similar in many respects to the Tea Party movement – an unorganized, leaderless grassroots uprising. While there were prominent figures within Gamergate, it was impossible to “take down” the movement because it was made up of thousands of angry anonymous people. As a result of Gamergate, many gaming press outlets suffered serious reputational damage and Gawker admitted they lost a significant amount from problems with advertisers caused by Gamergate (though exact amounts were disputed).
It’s also worth noting that Gamergate was a direct cause of several “new media” figures rising to prominence. Cernovich, Milo, and Youtuber “Sargon of Akkad,” all gained a following as a result of Gamergate, and were able to use that following to move into more traditional political punditry and activism. “Kotaku in Action,” the Gamergate subreddit, became a noteworthy subreddit dedicated to criticism of the media and free speech.
The last thing to note about Gamergate, in my opinion, was how unnecessary and stupid it all was. Most of the innocent people the left tried to destroy as “right-wing haters” and “bigots” and “sexists” were apolitical gamers or even moderate liberals who wanted to be left alone to enjoy their hobby.
I have come to believe the SJW movement was likely a “made” thing – something engineered by the left rather than an organic movement – and an effort by the left to control all speech on the internet by scaring people into compliance or silence. But it’s backfiring horribly, because ordinary people don’t like it when crazed ideologues engage in sadistic social destruction of completely innocent people.
Over and over again, I saw shellshocked and confused gamers say things like, “I’m a liberal. I voted for Obama twice! I don’t understand. Why are they doing this to us?” These weren’t horrible “right wing bigots” SJWs were attacking, they were insufficiently zealous Democrats!
The culture of censorship the left was trying to foster, as Gamergate made clear, was not sitting well with libertarian-minded internet traditionalists. Many moderate liberals were alienated by their extremist “brethren” on the left. This resulted in a great opening for Donald Trump. I still remain unsure whether Trump knew exactly what he was doing or whether this was a stroke of great good luck for him, but in October 2015, he made a tweet which changed the dynamics of the race:
@codyave: @drudgereport @BreitbartNews @Writeintrump “You Can’t Stump the Trump” https://t.co/0xITB7XeJV http://t.co/iF6S05se2w
This tweet earned Trump the adoration of /pol/, which went on to become one of his most enthusiastic backers on the internet. /pol/ provided advertising as good as, or better, than anything that could be bought with money. 4chan quickly began churning out pro-Trump memes and spreading them on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The_Donald, Trump’s subreddit, was also instrumental in amplifying the effect of these memes. One of the most devastating memes was the #DraftOurDaughters campaign:
I do not think it’s possible to quantify Hillary’s advertising against Trump’s, because their advertising was so different, with Hillary far more reliant on “old media” strategies like massive ad buys. Saying that “Hillary spent more” does not really help to define the depth of the ad campaign. 4chan and Twitter were also instrumental in spreading the word about major Clinton scandals like “Spirit Cooking” and all the other dirt to emerge from the Podesta emails.
You might be skeptical about my assertion that all this pro-Trump activity on social media helped him, but social media analysts believed it was a major indicator Trump was about to win:
“Analysts monitoring the social media activity of both campaigns on the major social media channels saw the outcome of this election coming months ago, and kept talking about the massive silent voter base that was forming around the Republican nominee,” said Phil Ross, a social media analyst at Socialbakers.
“Social media analysts continually sounded the alarm that all of the polls were not reflecting the actual situation on the ground in the pre-election landscape,” he added.
Clinton outspent Trump on TV ads, set up more field offices, and sent staff to swing states earlier, but Trump simply better leveraged social media to both reach and grow his audience.
It seems, too, that Trump benefitted from that old adage, “any press is good press.”
While the October 7th leak of the Access Hollywood tape was reported as a low moment in the Trump campaign, it expanded his social media audience more than any other until Election Day, Socialbakers found.
While it’s not possible to quantify how critical social media was to the Trump victory, I think that given Twitter and Facebook’s increasing fixation on managing and and controlling free speech, the Democrats clearly feel that Trump’s social media operations were a major contributing factor to their defeat. Hopefully the Republicans understand just how crucial places like 4chan were.
As I previously stated, none of this had to happen to the Democrats. Most of our gains have come from their losses of both communities like 4chan and Reddit, and America’s working class. As they’ve purged their moderates from positions of power, they’ve now turned to purging moderate liberal voters as well. All they need to to do to win these people back is stop enabling mentally ill social justice warriors to terrorize innocent people, but instead, they’re going to double down.