What do you do when there’s an election coming up and your party doesn’t have any policies, your own members admit they’ve failed at everything, and you don’t even have a platform? If you’re the Republican National Congressional Committee, there is only one answer: Use AI-generated images to create a 1930s-style newsreel pitching a xenophobic threat that not only doesn’t exist, but can’t exist.
Republicans have no passed or even pending legislation to tout. There’s no health care plan. There’s no education plan. There’s no plan at all. Other than endless hearings in a wasted effort to find something they can pin on President Joe Biden, the only thing they have to show for their control of the House are vicious interparty fights. Republicans went 15 rounds of voting to make Kevin McCarthy speaker, then kicked out McCarthy and spent 22 days without a speaker before selecting someone whose only credentials are that no one knew who he was.
So what are they running on? Claims that without them, illegal immigrants will overrun the national parks. Even though that has never happened. And there are really good reasons why it can’t.
Nothing says “no, I’m not a Nazi” like recreating an old newsreel format and filling it with propaganda designed to create fear of the “other.”
The response to this should be … is that the best they can do? Really? Given enormously capable AI tools that can make any image they want, and a clear lack of anything resembling morality, an excess of tents in Yosemite is the issue that Republicans are genuinely running with as their lever to pry open vulnerable Democratic seats.
The problems with this are nearly infinite, but here’s a good place to start: National parks already have extremely strict (some hikers would even say draconian) rules about camping without a permit or in non-designated areas. Hikers and backpackers in national parks often have to seek permits to camp months in advance, and camping must be done in very specific areas. Just showing up and plopping down a tent is a fast route to serious fines and significant jail time.
Here’s the recent story of one hiker who dared camp in the wrong place for a single night, even though the camping followed a medical emergency in which one member of their party had to be evacuated.
In some parks, hikers are required to stay in designated shelters, and God help you if that shelter is full, heavy snow is falling, and it’s 19 miles to the next shelter. Park rangers are the original f**k and around find out guys.
But even without the laws that parks already have in place to limit the number of visitors and strictly control where people are allowed to camp, there’s a much better reason why the national parks aren’t already overrun with immigrants or with homeless people from right here in America: They’re parks.
As in, places like Yosemite or Yellowstone are largely wilderness by design. Camping there requires bringing in food, water, and anything else necessary to get through the day. Camping for an extended period takes extensive planning, is difficult, and is often expensive.
The best indicator of the inherent ridiculousness of this Republican fearmongering is how much this is not happening now. No one, but no one, is running into large groups of immigrants or homeless people in national parks.
But then, Republicans aren’t interested in reality. This isn’t even the first ad campaign in which they’ve used AI images to create a vision of a bleak dystopian future. Last spring, Republicans ran another ad campaign using AI images. Guess what that one was about.
To be fair, the first Republican fantasy-fest wasn’t all about immigrants. It also featured AI-generated images of cities burning and cities overrun with people who are simply … not white. All of it is designed around the horrible fears that dominate Republican minds. Fears like diversity, acceptance, equality, and progress.
Republicans are sure to do this again. They can’t find the images they need in reality, so they’re increasingly turning to AI to get that visceral thrill of seeing the dystopian future that’s sure to exist … if we don’t give all power to a single-party authoritarian government with a leader who has promised to gather up all the unsuitable people, put them in massive camps, and do away with the protections of law.
If the Republicans want a real challenge, they could try making a propaganda reel showing what things will be like if they win.
But then, that reel has already been done.