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Donald Trump’s Reelection Campaign Compared Itself to the Death Star and We Have So Many Questions

Donald Trump looks confused in an Oval Office meeting.

Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, posted a tweet comparing their impending advertising campaign to the Death Star. Yes, that Death Star.

“For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star),” Parscale wrote. “It is firing on all cylinders. Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc. In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time.”

Oh boy, there’s so much happening here. First of all, it’s a weird choice to publicly brand your reelection campaign as a gigantic superweapon built and run by power-hungry villains with the ability and willingness to destroy an entire planet—especially in the middle of an actual global pandemic.

There’s also the fact that the Death Star was destroyed … twice.

Of course, it’s likely Parcale already knows this and is simply being the professional troll he’s always been.

That doesn’t mean it’s not still disturbing to see a presidential surrogate claim the Empire as the group that best represents them and their party–not that that’s anything new for them.

And remember, these are also the same people who thought it would be cool to superimpose Trump’s face onto the body of Thanos—another big-time villain who also lost.

It is pretty clear that Parscale is deliberately trolling here. He followed up his original tweet with a claim that they didn’t dub the marketing campaign the Death Star, “the media did.”

That is partly true. The term seems to have caught on for a while after it was used in an article in The Atlantic back in February. But the author, McKay Coppins, was quoting a Republican strategist who used the term “admiringly.”

It’s strange that Parscale would want to draw attention to the origins of this nickname, though, because that article (which is straight-up terrifying, by the way) doesn’t just portray Parscale’s work as a regular advertising campaign. All those things he tweeted about—”Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc.”—are what Coppins describes as parts of a “billion-dollar disinformation campaign.”

He writes,

What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world. Rather than shutting down dissenting voices, these leaders have learned to harness the democratizing power of social media for their own purposes—jamming the signals, sowing confusion. They no longer need to silence the dissident shouting in the streets; they can use a megaphone to drown him out. Scholars have a name for this: censorship through noise.

“The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives,” the article goes on to say. “These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.”

So yes, “Death Star” sounds like a pretty accurate nickname, though it’s still weird that Trump’s team is so eager to embrace it.

(image: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.