Today I was visiting one of the “I hate Trump” Facebook pages when someone posted an article critical or positive about Bernie Sanders (I frankly don’t remember which). The post almost immediately started to attract the typical pro and con “let’s re-fight the Democratic primaries” responses. I started to type out a message saying something like, “Let’s not start this up again folks; with Trump in the White House we have bigger worries”. However, as I started to type I found it difficult because new replies were coming at such a rapid rate the response I was typing was continually being pushed off of the bottom of my computer screen. After scrolling up several times and having the same thing happen again and again, I gave up. Apparently there is still a great deal of interest in re-fighting the Democratic primaries.
My thought at the time was that I shouldn’t be concerned about the tendency of those on both sides of the progressive divide who want to live in the past and continue the primaries fight of an election that we lost to a heinous human being. If people don’t understand how ridiculous that is, there is no help for them. However, after giving the matter additional thought I begin to realize what this might mean in terms of the next Presidential election. If that happens again, our odds winning the general election will deteriorate and this country cannot afford anther Republican victory in 2020.
If Democrats and independent progressives are still riled up about the Sanders/Clinton battle, that doesn’t bode well for the 2020 Democratic primaries. That’s because that nasty split was more about fights between moderate Democrats and progressives much further to the left than anything else with the provocateurs on both sides intent on revving everyone else up. It is likely that we will have candidates for the 2020 nomination on both sides of that political divide. I again see a real potential for internal fights between those who think that a potential nominee is not progressive enough and those who claim that another candidate is too far to the left to be able to win the general election.
If it ended there, no harm would be done, but it probably won’t stop there; it could easily get personal and nasty again. There will again be complaints of foul play. People could again get pissed off if their favorite doesn’t win and might sit on their hands and not volunteer or contribute during the general election. They would probably still vote for the Democratic nominee if they have a half of a brain, but they will probably do no more. I don’t even know who the 2020 candidates will be. However, I think it is likely that the infighting will happen again if we are too stupid to understand that we should never put down any potential Democratic nominee, under any circumstances, because he/she is sure to be far superior than any candidate the GOP will nominate. It is time to wise up folks and understand that we can’t continue to undercut our cause if we want to win. And we must win.
If we don’t understand how vindictive the last primaries were and learn from that experience, then there truly is no hope us. If choosing our nominee in an open public election process automatically means that a large percentage of the most active and involved Democrats and other progressives will end up so pissed off they will essentially sit out the general election except for actually voting, then we are totally screwed.
First of all, I see no reason why the primary process has to be so nasty. Why can’t we back our favorites without pissing everyone else off? Is that really so hard? Second, why is it the Republicans can come together and we can’t? If Republicans could rally around a mentally disturbed asshole like Trump, why in the hell can’t we, the most active and involved Democrats and progressives, truly rally round our nominee and throw ourselves headlong into the fight?
I have concluded that social media is responsible for intensifying the battles within the progressive ranks during the primaries. The most fervent Democrats and independent progressives congregate on social media sites like Facebook pages, The Democratic Underground, etc. to discuss the primaries. Far too many are not content with supporting their candidate. They believe in the old saying, “the best defense is a good offense” and start to tear into the opposition candidate(s).
As usual, on social media there will be some on both sides who will resort hitting below the belt and trying to shut down everyone with opposing views by any means possible. These types will aggregate the hell out of those on the other side and the discussion will dissolve into a nasty brawl. Later, when the primaries are over, those on the losing side will be so aggravated that they will find it difficult to support the candidate who ultimately wins the nomination.
I have seen the affect of social media personally. In 2008 I didn’t engage in any other discussions on the internet about the primaries so I had no idea how contentious it was on social media between the Clinton and Obama supporters. I supported Hillary’s campaign by volunteering and making contributions, but I was never involved in the infighting so I wasn’t ticked off at Obama supporters or Obama himself.
When Hillary dropped out of the race and sent me an email asking to support Barack, I did so willingly and enthusiastically, contributing both my time and my money to his campaign. Later when I joined the Democratic Underground website in 2015 I learned from other members on the site that there was a lot of hard feelings on both sides after the 2008 primaries which made it much more difficult for Hillary Clinton people to switch their support to Barack Obama. I had no such problem because I was never involved in the social media infighting.
On the other hand during the 2016 primaries Sanders supporters on DU got under my skin big time. It was also quite clear that we, the Hillary supporters, pissed off a lot of Bernie’s people. The result was that regardless of which candidate became the nominee, it was going to be difficult for those whose candidate lost to support the winner enthusiastically.
I later realized in hindsight that the infighting we did on DU just plain stupid. Why should the most tuned in and enthusiastic Democrats involve themselves in anything that will ultimately make it difficult for half of them to support the ultimate nominee. I came to the conclusion that infighting was just plain stupid. Anyone who thinks otherwise is thinking with their emotions rather then being rational.
Those who are very experienced at playing the political game on social media assure me that nasty fights among those who are the most politically active during the Democratic primaries are inevitable along with the resulting hard feelings. I disagree. If enough of us are willing and able to break up fights on social media before things get too nasty, we can be a calming influence. First of all we cannot get caught up in the frenzy ourselves by remembering that any person nominated by the Democratic Party in this day and age will be vastly superior to the ultimate Republican nominee. Then we have to continually remind everyone else and point out the futility of tearing down any candidate who might ultimately represent us against a vastly inferior Republican.
Remember that usually those who can be most effective in countering disruptive posts are those who back the same candidate as the posters. People trying to stir up trouble are more likely to respect the opinions of those who also back their favorite candidate. In addition, folks on the other side of the primary contests will appreciate that there are decent people in the opposition and they will be more likely to try to continue keep the conversations civil. While we may be unable to agree on our choices of candidates, the majority can agree to keep the discussions positive.
We can do this folks. Remember, the ultimate goal is coming out of the primary process with all of us united behind the Democratic Party’s nominee. We are stronger together when all of us can enthusiastically support our ultimate candidate, whoever that is, whether that person is on the far left, or a moderate, or somewhere in between. If you, like I, believe that this is achievable, then it will be achievable. Please go forth and “make it so”.