Did the Russians Elect Trump? Or, We have Met the Enemy, and He is Us


It is January 14. As we count down toward Doomsday, the public conversation is dominated by two questions:

  1. Is it true, as Rep. John Lewis has claimed, that Trump would not have been elected but for Russian interference, and is his presidency therefore illegitimate?
  2. Why is Trump so publicly in love with Putin?

This post addresses the first of these two questions. By the way, Trump attacked Lewis this morning and Lewis has just responded by emailing the Aardvarks to ask for a monetary contribution. Dr. Aardvark and I are considering whether to click the $50 button or one of the others.

That said, Aardvark agrees with Kathleen Parker, who wrote today that we will probably never know whether Russian influence actually tipped the scale.

The fundamental question about the election is not does not involve the source of supply of fake news, it involves the source of demand for fake news. Think of it like this. Just up the road from Happy Acres, conveniently located, lies the Humongous Booze Barn, which offers a wide selection and highly competitive pricing to complement its geographic convenience.

Does the convenient location of the Humongous Booze Barn contribute to Aardvark’s consumption of strong drink? Yes, maybe a little. But despite the enticing selection of alcohol they offer, no one at the store forces Aardvark to buy the stuff. He buys it because some evenings sobriety is too painful to endure.

For many millions of our fellow citizens, reality itself has become too painful to bear. I suspect that a lot of them are aware, at least dimly, and in the back of the mind, that they are consuming fake news. But they go on pouring it down their gullets because it makes them feel good. And if they can’t get it from one source, they will get it from another.

What would happen if the Humongous Booze Barn ran out of Jack Daniels? Won’t happen, but what if it did? Would Aardvark be disappointed by the temporary absence of his favorite tipple? Yes, he would. Would he say to himself, “It’s Jack Daniels or nothing,” and leave the store? Or would he buy another brand? You know the answer.

If the National Enquirer runs out of fake news from Pravda it will get fake news somewhere else, and its customer base will keep on consuming the product.