WTF is the problem? Democratic exercises are there to be influenced. Influencing them is part of the democratic process. How do we exclude influences without the very grave risk of undermining democracy?
WTF does anybody think the British establishment was doing during Scotland’s first independence referendum if not trying to influence the outcome? WTF do you think the British media is doing day in day out if not trying to influence a constitutional debate that is Scotland’s alone?
I’m sure certain regimes, not least the British and Russian ones, would be salivating at the thought of being able to restrict access to voters. I’m perfectly certain they’d love to be able to pick and choose which influences voters are subject to. But I’m not sure democracy would be served were this possible.
And it’s not possible. Barring some Draconian measures such as would make North Korea look like an open, democratic society, it simply isn’t possible to prevent open, democratic media being used to exert political influence; just as traditional media has done for as long as there has been media. Which is as long as there have been people and language and stories.
It’s just one more thing we have to cope with if we want to maintain our democratic freedoms. The influences that some are getting in such a knicker-twisting, pant-wetting turmoil about are just another facet of the democratic process. If people engage with and participate in that process, they will be able to deal appropriately with the influences. They will learn how to detect and evaluate those influences. Just as they must learn how to handle the pernicious influence of mainstream media, which lie to us all the time in an effort to influence us.
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