The mandarins have to maintain at least a sham of “democracy” to keep the plebs from burning things. They’re pretty bad at it now, but that’s because they’re stupid, out-of-touch, and old. Kids these days are better at working the Google machine than they are, so embarrassments like this, or supposed paragon-of-principled-conservatism Bill Kristol donating to Coonman the Babykiller over Gillespie (he of the $13 million in “single-issue” money), keep coming out. Eventually it will dawn on the mandarins that they have to be a bit smarter about covering their tracks, airbrushing away old photos and the like. Zuckerberg has already gotten a good start; they just have to capitalize.
In fact, Caesarism might well be the best case scenario, in that it’s always possible that the plebs will see through the sham and riot. The other possibility — the one I consider likeliest, natch — is that some of these seemingly ham-fisted ops are actually designed to get us into a state of learned helplessness. Does anyone, anywhere, think Ed Gillespie would ever have been allowed to run for anything if the situation had been reversed? These days, Twitter mobs form up over things college athletes tweeted when they were 14 years old; I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid ends up going undrafted — costing him millions of dollars — because teams don’t want to deal with the PR disaster of something he did when he was a freshman in high school. If there were photos of Ed Gillespie in blackface out there, they would’ve been found within 24 hours of him declaring his candidacy.
In other words, the message is: No one could possibly be squeaky-clean enough to escape punishment, if We decide you must be punished. Similarly, if We decide We like you, you can rise to a life of affluence beyond your wildest dreams, no matter what you did in the past.
Hey, it worked for Stalin, and he didn’t even have Facebook.
Or Twitter, where the following Stalinesque conditions prevail: the people who tweet the hashtag don’t decide what’s trending, the people who count the tweets do.