Saving Democracy with @LOLGOP

Jason Sattler wants "to feed democracy in the most nourishing and effective possible ways." You can help.

Saving Democracy with @LOLGOP

When I first interviewed Jason Sattler (aka @LOLGOP) for this newsletter in 2020, I noted that he had established itself as a “political influencer” in the early days of Twitter when reaching 10,000 followers was considered a massive platform.

I also highlighted his prescient USA Today op-ed of August 2020 titled: "Trump has a plan to steal the election and it’s not clear Democrats have a plan to stop him."

In December 2022, I invited @LOLGOP back to discuss what staying on Twitter meant in the age of Elon Musk.

Today, Sattler's still tweeting to more than 300,000 @LOLGOP followers but also branching out on Twitter alternatives such as Bluesky.

In 2024, Sattler is also launching a new effort to save democracy called earlyworm, a political news and activism-oriented site intended "to feed democracy in the most nourishing and effective possible ways."

What's this all about? Clearly, it was time to check in with Jason again.

Q&A with @LOLGOP

How are you, a social media legend, feeling about social media in 2024?

As a social media legend, if such a thing exists, I’m feeling very much not like one.

Like everyone, I now have to post on ten different Twitters to reach a tenth of the people I used to reach while dealing with ten times the Nazis. This may sound like whining. Because it is. 

I lucked into an undeserved yet fantastic Twitter following, filled with people who were funnier, smarter, and more charming than myself. But it turns out that something that I thought I built for myself was the equivalent of a high score on one 80s arcade game. That game was bought by a nerve-fried Apartheid heir bent on dominating the universe while impregnating as many of his employees as possible. And he put it into his Nazi bar.

Ok, I’m still whining. There’s no right to an audience. We had no right to a funny, vibrant, and problematic app where normals, celebrities, and Kevin Sorbo all screwed around, annoying and enlightening each other, allowing whole movements to be built along with careers, including mine. But we had that. And now it’s just the opposite of that.

I’m not trying to overblow it. I don’t think we lost the Library of Alexandria. But we have lost the bathroom where everyone went to smoke in the Library of Alexandria.

Twitter, as it was for more than a decade, was an anomaly. It allowed individuals and movements to break into mainstream consciousness solely on the strength of their ideas and/or audacity. This was astounding. And it also gave us Trump. So maybe it wasn’t worth it. And now it is giving us Elon. Which definitely isn’t worth it.

Elon saw the power of this platform and knew it was his best way to force his vision of reality onto society. That vision is rigorously hierarchical, without consequences for the rich, driven by the need of white men to reproduce, the opposite of funny… He sort of tricked himself into overpaying for it with the opposite of a funny joke by jamming 420 in the offer price. And he’s destroyed more than half, probably nearly all, of the company’s value. 

But it has been a massive success for him. He’s empowering all the worst people on the site and in the world. Even worse, he’s enabling other social media platforms to abandon the slight controls on disinformation they applied in 2020.

How screwed are we as a nation?

TBD in November.

The polls look bad. All the special elections look good. And I still live in constant fear of Trump outperforming the polls, which he did here in Michigan and in Pennsylvania both times he ran. 

But it’s also hard to not feel a bit optimistic when we just repealed Right to Work in Michigan and Wisconsin now has something resembling fair legislative maps, two things that seemed impossible not long ago.

Why is journalism failing us? What should we be still reading and supporting?

I debate with myself. Is journalism bad? Or are the forces of the right just so overwhelming that we’re expecting too much from journalism by hoping it will ward off society-wide authoritarian inclinations and forces?

A big part of it is that tech and consolidation have just murdered the business model of “the news.” And a bigger part of it is that the right wing media is so massive, well-funded, and intentional that it’s a planet of its own with gravity that warps everything.

Worst of all, the right has become masterful at laundering its best attacks on Democrats through the government, even when they aren’t in power. Look at the recent Hur report that just smeared Biden like an attack ad for no justifiable reason. But even in the 90s, before the dominance of Fox, the consolidation of the media and social media, they were able to do similar with the Whitewater investigation which lasted most of decade and discovered what everyone knew from the beginning, the Clintons bought some land and lost money on it. That bled into other scandals that led to the special counsel and then the impeachment that sort of began the fact-free, consequence-free era that we now have become accustomed to. 

The sad fact is that there’s basically no way for smaller (and even most larger) publications to sustain themselves – either online or off – without subscriptions. If you want to write for the public, you are all in the “pleading with strangers for our sustenance” business, even if you are lucky enough to have other people begging for you.

So we have to convince society that journalism is a valuable and essential budget item, like streaming or cable. But the problem is, most people – 70-80% – don’t want the news. They actively avoid it. Yet most of them still vote. Which leads us to…

What—and who—is earlyworm? 

The 20-30% of Americans who want to know about the news matter more than ever because they are the most trusted news source for their friends and families. 

We call these people early birds. And in that group there’s a smaller sliver of folks, passionate and obsessively, who elevate the stories that everyone will be talking about next. We call this group of extremely influential newslovers “the earlyworms.” 

And we’re trying to figure out how to unite them, empower them, and give them the stuff they love in a way that helps save democracy.

earlyworm comes out of a collaboration between Nick Marquez and me. Nick and I met working at the legal (boring) version of Napster twenty years ago. I always thought he was a genius, like the John Frusciante of design. And when he said he’d help me build a site, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to try – work on politics full-time. I gave myself a job that only I would give me, CEO (Chief earlyworm officer).

Our focus is on news that nourishes our belief in democracy or illuminates the threats against it, paired with actions almost everyone can take to fight for our freedoms. We believe earlyworms can turn news junkies into democracy junkies. We want to make that happen.

We’ll at least give you an action you can consider taking, every day. Even weekends.

We’re also launching a podcast called “How are you feeling about democracy?” that asks experts in democracy how they feel about it. And it gets awkward.

What else are you doing that's new in 2024—and why?

earlyworm is the big thing. But I’ve been contributing to George Lakoff and Gil Duran’s FrameLab newsletter, which is an honor for me as someone who thinks the work they do to explain framing to the masses is one the most necessary and lacking parts of political journalism. And I have a new newsletter on Ghost called “I Know How Much Your Care” for people who just want words and not actions.

What should people stop doing in 2024 and start doing instead?

You’ve caught me in the middle of this nonsense where people are imagining there’s some possibility that an extremely successful president who has wanted to be president his whole life is going to not run again. And key to this fantasy is that somehow these tribulations wouldn’t detonate the Democratic Party. (Though, I think the goal for most people discussing this is to detonate the Democratic Party.)

So I say, “Don’t do what I just did.” 

Don’t engage in nonsense. It’s like the classic story apocryphally attributed to LBJ about calling an opponent a “pig f*cker.” Why did LBJ call him that, knowing his opponent had f*cked no pigs? “I want him to have to deny it.” Don’t help spread the stink or the lie. Don’t quote Trump without context. Don’t devote much energy to dunking on terrible opinions you don’t want to see in the world.

In fact, don’t debate online at all. It generally does the opposite of helping. Only thing worse is shaming people in a red state for not leaving when the Republicans in their gerrymandered legislatures pass awful laws.

Instead? Do something for democracy. Give, volunteer, pester lawmakers or regulators. And let people know that you’re doing that. 

And whatever you do, don’t donate to whoever is running against Marjorie Taylor Greene, who lives in a district that no Republican could ever lose, unless you live there and/or have given to the thousands of winnable races that are lacking attention and support.

Where can people find, read, and support your work?

The internet, ideally.


You can keep up with earlyworm on Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

You can also support the effort on Patreon here:

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