Longtime political activist and host of SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show,” Joe Madison has mastered the art of dealing with Russian trolls. “We were targeted by the Russians during the 2016 campaign,” he explains in an interview with LA Sentinel. “We started getting calls from all these Black folks who would try to encourage my audience not to vote. They’d say, ‘if your candidate doesn’t win the primary don’t vote. The political party that you are loyal to isn’t loyal to you, so don’t vote. The constitution doesn’t benefit you as a Black person so don’t vote.’ It was a constant barrage.”
Madison’s political instincts, well-honed over thirty plus years as an activist, told him this was a coordinated effort to prevent Blacks from voting. He instructed his staff to stop putting those calls through and his suspicions were later confirmed. “We found out that the Russians had actually hired African Americans to target social media and Black news talk programs.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia visited Madison’s show to let the audience know that Russia is planning to target them again leading up to the 2020 elections. Madison stated that he hopes consumers develop a more fine-tuned sense of when they are being manipulated by entities like Russia.
During his daily four-hour long political and cultural news talk show, Madison analyzes current events during the course of any given day. In addition, he explains, “We’re activist-oriented. One of my regular lines is to ask the audience, ‘Now that we’ve talked about it, what are you gonna do about it?’”
As many conservatives as liberals call into Madison’s show and he pulls no punches (or four-letter words) in telling them exactly what he thinks of their sometimes spurious arguments. “People are calling, challenging me and at the same time, seeking information that they’re not getting elsewhere. I challenge their beliefs, not their politics. I challenge them with facts and facts win.”
One of the things Madison acknowledges needs to be done, is to make voters more aware and more ready to take action to ensure fair elections. An activist who was running the Detroit branch of the NAACP when he was only twenty-four years old,” Madison revealed he wasn’t discouraged upon hearing the results of the last Presidential election. “I never gave up hope. More people voted against Donald Trump by the millions. But, we could have done better!” He acknowledges that voter suppression via gerrymandering of Congressional districts is what allowed Donald Trump to occupy the office of president.
He admits that not enough is being done by the media to alert everyday voters about voter suppression and Russian influence on the upcoming elections regardless of the willingness of people to turn out. “We have got to develop a keener sense of how we’re being infiltrated by what is commonly known today as ‘trolls.’ They use the various outlets, particularly in the Black community, to try to convince us that voting is not important or the candidates don’t address our needs.”
“We need to quit this analysis paralysis,” Madison states,“ and start planning what our role should be.” The mainstream media, he points out, fails by focusing on the actions of Trump almost to the exclusion of everything else. “We spend too much time worrying about what he’s going to do as opposed to what we need to do. For Madison, the first step is for voters to define their own narrative away from whatever mainstream media is discussing.
Though he believes the impeachment process will ultimately be successful in bringing the truth to all Americans, he cautions, “It will not be overnight; it will be a lengthy process.”
Further, he agrees that even if Trump were to be thrown out of office today, he has already potentially done immense damage to the country by nominating over one hundred and fifty judges; only two or three of which are people of color. Madison explains, “Many of his appointed judges have admitted they don’t support landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education and some have questioned the Civil Rights Amendments. Finally, they are all young and have lifetime appointments.”
The implications of this for the next generation or two are dire, but Madison is optimistic that it isn’t too late to turn the tide if we act quickly. “You must challenge the senators that have to confirm these judges,” he emphasizes.
As a blueprint for how to combat the Trump/McConnell judicial juggernaut, he cites the success of civic efforts in North Carolina to have Trump nominee Thomas Farr be denied a seat on the bench. “You had organizations like the NAACP, you had various local organizations, statewide organizations, busloads of people who came to Washington DC and lobby against this judge to the point that they weren’t able to confirm him. When people do something about it, when people get on buses, when people use the five call apps, when people email their senator, that’s how you turn this situation around.”