One thing you have to get used to in Russia and Ukraine is the paid rally. It’s not just the government that does it. Opposition parties, both real and fake, will often pay people to come to their rallies. In Russia, you can find out about paid demonstrations on sites like Massovki, for example. It’s easy to dismiss this as a typical tactic of dictators, but really it’s largely due to a populace that has long been depoliticized. In the case of Russia, atomization and distrust often prevents people from getting involved in any sort of cause far more effectively than government repression.
Given this sorry state of affairs, you can imagine my reaction to this story about a company which provides professional actors to create fake crowds at political rallies. Here’s a list of the services this company provides.
“I have found our approach has led to increased poll numbers and, in many case made the margin of victory for a few reasons:
A) Photo-ops at rallies. Having a diverse group of people (race/gender/age) around the candidate is critical especially for those who are constantly followed by reporters but even for those who only get a couple pieces per day.
B) Enthusiastic crowds bring more media attention and shift the narrative onto grassroots supporters. Press always want to understand why people support candidate x or candidate y. Giving them great footage of enthusiastic supporters speaking about their love for the candidate provides great quotations.
C) Gives a sense of legitimacy for the candidate among their existing supporters. When they see lots of enthusiastic folks at rallies, they feel like they’re backing the right horse.
D) Bolsters the candidates’ self-confidence. Some candidates knew about the paid crowds and other times we have been hired by outside organizations. In both cases, seeing more supporters gave them the confidence to up their game on stage.”
If you’re an American that should infuriate you. We have enough problems with political lobbying (lobbyists, by the way, often hire ordinary people as placeholders to wait in line for them at the Capitol), we don’t need our political system distorted any further by tactics like this.
This is exactly the kind of thing Americans should be up in arms about. Not immigration, not “ethics in gaming journalism,” not ultra-specific, minute examples of sexism in popular movies or comic books, not chemtrails, not vaccines, not GMOs (which are in fact delicious). This is something that can be addressed and could probably be easily regulated out of existence if people just organized and did a little legwork to find out how they can influence their local politicians. With organization and discipline, a grassroots movement could get such companies banned (and yes, this kind of thing should be banned, at least in politics).
But of course that won’t happen, because Americans are too busy screaming about how the gay socialist tyrant is oppressing them via illegal immigration, and the American left is either obsessed with creating safe spaces for every new and contrived identity group they can imagine, or they’re too busy regurgitating Russian propaganda about Ukraine.