Please see the video that Arnold Schwarzenegger sent via social media to the people of Russia, here at The Hollywood Reporter. His invocations not only of his father’s history but also of the inspiration that he derived from the Russian weightlifter, Yuri Petrovich Vlasov, were brilliant.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is very popular in Russia and has a substantial following there. Credit to Mr. Schwarzenegger, then, for using his influence where he knows he has it.
I love the Russian people. That is why I have to tell you the truth. Please watch and share. pic.twitter.com/6gyVRhgpFV
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 17, 2022
I am reliably informed that Vladimir Putin has a Twitter account and that Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of only 22 Tweeters whom Putin follows. I am further informed that Mr. Schwarzenegger endeavored to get his video message, delivered in English with Russian subtitles, to Russians via as many social media channels to which he could have access.
Let us hope for the future of Russia that there is a meaningful “public opinion” within Russia; and let us hope that the efforts of Mr. Schwarzenegger and others will rouse it.
When I served President Reagan as the Chief of Staff and the General Counsel (two distinct hats that I wore at the same time) at USIA in the mid-1980s, we spent a lot of effort and money to measure “public opinion” such as it was throughout the USSR and its 15 constituent republics (Russia and Ukraine being two of them).
It was hard and dangerous work; one simply couldn’t commission a public opinion survey from a commercial sampling firm (e.g., Nielsen or Gallup) as one could in a free society such as Denmark, Ecuador, or Japan.
But the remarkable thing was, even then, we found public opinion in the USSR. It existed! It had a pulse! With great margins of error it could even be measured!
In one of his celebrated debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”
Mr. Lincoln’s view of the matter is as applicable to Russia’s future as it was to Illinois in the middle of the 19th century.