Part of the task is also to get truthful information to Russians on the atrocities taking place in Ukraine.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For decades, Political Consultant Mike Madrid has helped Republicans get into office on the local, state, and national levels. In 2020, he helped now President Joe Biden.
Madrid is one of the founders of The Lincoln Project, which is a national organization created by Republicans who did not support former President Trump in the 2020 election and did not like the direction the party was headed in.
Madrid said many leaders credit the project, in part, for getting just enough Republicans to break away from Trump in order to help President Joe Biden win. That’s why he said his political consulting firm was approached for this upcoming mission. A mission, he says, is not too different: Convince just enough Russians that Putin is not their guy.
“This is the first war in the digital age,” Madrid said in an exclusive sit down with ABC10 Political Reporter Morgan Rynor.
One of the biggest challenges in this war, he said, is that Russians are getting their information through state-run media.
“People have been politicized, radicalized, into believing something that their own media narrative continues to tell them,” he said. “The challenge of breaking through that in whole or part, just the pieces at a time, is very challenging. It’s all the more challenging when there are less vehicles to do that with.”
A Russian court banned Facebook and Instagram and other social media platforms in the country. Without getting into too many details for safety reasons, Madrid said there are still other options they can utilize.
“There are platforms that do still exist,” he said. “There has been some really creative work done on things like dating site apps where people have consciously connected with people to kind of move information through the conversations happening on dating apps, for example, or on review platforms.”
It’s a targeted mission.
“You can’t convince everybody,” he said. “We shouldn’t try, but we should be able to find out who it is that is amenable to a different message, recognize that their country is doing something very wrong, and hopefully stand up and be part of the effort to work against that type of the atrocities.”
The bigger picture of his mission, however, is keeping democracy alive.
“The rebuild: What does democracy look like afterward? How are those institutions preserved when your cities are being decimated and destroyed and people are leaving?” Madrid said.
It’s not just a conflict between a democracy and an authoritarian regime, he said, but it speaks to a larger issue Western democracies face.
“It’s really serving as a bulwark between a broader fight between not just the east and the west, but also the capability of democracies to survive in the digital age. We’re really coming out of this very interesting time post-pandemic, where democracies didn’t do terribly well in response to a communicable disease to a pandemic. The division within our own country really highlighted some of the weaknesses that democracy has with the free flow of information and how it can literally harm our public health. It can literally kill hundreds of 1000s of us if we don’t have or believe in the same information.”
Madrid said there’s a group of at least 200 people in the marketing, technology, and communications sectors that are all working on this issue together. The group does not have a name.