If you’ve ever been registered to vote as a member of any political party, and chances are that you’ve received documents in the mail labeled “Official Congressional District Census.” If you work at Facebook, you might have been gullible enough to confuse it with the official U.S. Census form.
Anybody who can claim even a passing familiarity with either U.S. politics, the decennial U.S. Census or even just had a modicum of common sense, probably just chuckled to themselves at the very idea that anyone could succumb to such confusion. The “Official Congressional District Census” that reliably shows up at least once during every election cycle is a political survey put out by party organizations to help them fine-tune their local messaging strategies. The U.S. Census, on the other hand, is conducted far less frequently, and is thoroughly unconcerned with people’s opinions about anything.
If one is ever in doubt as to which document is which, one need only consider whether the form is asking how many people live in the household — in which case it’s safe to assume that it’s the U.S. Census — or how you feel about President Trump — in which case it’s definitely a political survey. If that doesn’t work, there’s also a backup litmus test: if there’s a donkey or an elephant at the top of the page, it sure as heck ain’t the U.S. Census.
Facebook, however, doesn’t trust Americans to make such complicated distinctions. The social media giant removed ads from the Trump campaign this week, ostensibly to “prevent confusion around the official US census.”
The ads in question asked viewers to fill out an “Official Congressional District Census,” calling their responses “ESSENTIAL to our team’s 2020 campaign strategy,” explaining that “we need Patriotic Americans like YOU to respond to this census, so we can develop a winning strategy for YOUR STATE.”
Only the sort of people who bought into the evidence-free “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory hook, line, and sinker could lack such common sense to possibly see any ambiguity there. The ad makes explicitly clear that it’s seeking input on “campaign strategy.” Obviously, Facebook thinks the problem is that the ad also uses the word “census” — but then, the U.S. government has not trademarked that term, which has been used since Roman times to describe an official enumeration of a population. Just because the word is commonly associated with the official U.S. Census doesn’t mean it has no other legitimate uses.
Facebook’s latest act of censorship perfectly combines two of the most prominent qualities of the contemporary political left: irrational hatred of Donald Trump and elitist disdain for the American people. Liberals have decided that the President wants to undermine the 2020 Census, so in their minds that’s the only plausible explanation for conducting an “Official Congressional District Census.” They’ve also convinced themselves that Facebook ads are what actually determine the outcomes of U.S. presidential elections, which requires them to believe that the vast majority of Americans are unredeemable rubes incapable of making independent assessments.
It’s a good thing liberals are wrong about the intellectual capacity of the average American, because otherwise Facebook’s latest act of censorship might have actually been effective. Instead, the left is just betraying its own growing desperation, fueled by deep-seated fears that no amount of election meddling from their friends in Silicon Valley or propaganda from their allies in the media will be enough to keep Americans from giving Donald Trump another four years in the Oval Office.
Andrew Surabian is a former Special Assistant to President Trump and Deputy Strategist inside the White House, who also worked on his campaign.