Timely reminder – when the Guardian's attempt to influence US politics backfired spectacularly

Embed from Getty Images

Owen Jones in the Guardian recently wrote an article entitled: “I signed an open letter to Donald Trump, and you should too”:

Trump’s unapologetic embrace of racism, xenophobia and misogyny vindicates all of those ugly prejudices the world over. And millions of Americans are horrified about Trump. They deserve our solidarity and support. There is, after all, another United States, one forged by immigrants and transformed by courageous Americans who fought racism, sexism and homophobia. That is a United States millions of us believe in. And that is why we should sign this letter.

I won’t be signing this letter. I remember 2004 and the Guardian’s “Operation Clark County” too clearly (which to be fair Owen Jones also does). That was when the Guardian urged its readers to write letters to residents in a key swing county in the USA (Clark County, Ohio) to ask people not to vote for George W Bush in order to save the world. (In retrospect, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz make George W Bush look like Goofy).

The operation was quite sophisticated. You went onto a website and were designated the name and address of a voter in Ohio. Then you wrote a letter to them, as a concerned global citizen, asking them not to vote for George W Bush. I wrote such a letter. In retrospect, how ridiculous it must have seemed to the person who received it! – Receiving a letter out of the blue from some twit in England. Indeed, the Guardian even recruited noted luvvies such as John le Carré, Lady Antonia Fraser and Richard Dawkins to write such letters.

I cannot help creasing up with laughter when I imagine the reaction of some blue collar worker in Springfield, Ohio as they opened a lavender envelope from Lady Antonia Fraser and read the first few lines quoting from Ogden Nash (who at least had the advantage of being American):

O duty

Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie … ?

Why art thou so different from Venus?

And why do thou and I have so few interests in common between us?

The reaction of Clark County residents to this avalanche of Guardian attention can be gauged from these reactions, perhaps beautifully epitomised by this one:

KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS … TOUGH SHIT!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!

It was even suggested that the Guardian’s campaign helped swing the election to Bush (“It was the Guardian wot won it”).

So, no, I won’t be signing an open letter to Donald Trump.

The photo above shows George W Bush speaking in Springfield, Ohio (part of Clark County) during the 2004 presidential election campaign.

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