How the establishment has worked to discredit Sanders’ movement
Conor Lynch writes in Salon:
Back in April, the Hillary Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record, which is helmed by the former right-wing attack dog David Brock, announced that it would be spending $1 million to “engage in online messaging both for Secretary Clinton and to push back against attackers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.” In other words, the political action committee would spend a cool million on paid internet trolls to pounce on anyone who dared to criticize their presidential candidate.
This announcement was part of a bigger story about the 2016 presidential election: the powerful and far-reaching presence the Bernie Sanders campaign has on social media, and the enthusiasm of young Sanders supporters online, many of whom have been labeled trolls, “Bernie Bros,” “BernieBots,” and — more egregiously — sexists and racists by Democratic partisans and the corporate media over the past year. Sanders has such a passionate online base that David Brock and the Clinton campaign felt it necessary not only to pay legitimate trolls to attack them, but to make bogus generalizations intended to discredit the entire movement.
Throughout the primary season, a narrative has formed — thanks in large part to an uncritical media’s willingness to accept unsubstantiated reports (like chair-throwing and other violence in Nevada) — that Sanders supporters are a bunch of sexist, brutish, violent, and even racist white male trolls and serial harassers (the last charge, which has been exploited by influential journalists and establishment figures to evade any substantive criticisms, is perhaps the most troubling, for the very reason that it undermines people who are genuinely harassed online — which is a very real problem, especially for women and people of color).
Of course, there are indeed anti-Clinton/pro-Bernie trolls on social media — you’d be hard pressed to find any political movement that doesn’t have its share of trolls and assholes, and anyone who thinks their side is troll-free is either naive or self-absorbed. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald recently put it on Twitter: “Self-centered people always think their own group is free of trolls because they’re never targeted by them.”
Interestingly enough, polling data indicates that Clinton supporters have been more aggressive than Sanders supporters on social media and the internet, while — not surprisingly — Trump supporters have been the most aggressive by a long shot. A poll supported by Craigslist.com founder Craig Newmark found that 57 percent of Americans say Trump supporters are very aggressive and/or threatening online, 30 percent say the same for Clinton supporters, and 16 percent for Sanders supporters (while 68 percent say Sanders supporters are not that aggressive, 52 percent for Clinton supporters, and 30 percent for Trump supporters).
Unfortunately, “troll” and “harassment” have become terms that are now impulsively hurled by Democratic partisans at anyone who criticizes or disputes their opinion or a claim they’ve made, whether on social media or in a publication. Accusing someone of harassment — even when the person is making a valid argument (admittedly, sometimes substantive arguments can be made in a rude or condescending manner, but is being rude or impolite harassment?) — is an easy way to avoid their argument and discredit them in the future. . .
Later in the article:
. . . One constant narrative throughout the primaries has been that Sanders just can’t gain the support of women or people of color, and that his supporters are overwhelmingly white males who back him for the simple reason that he is a man (e.g. Walsh’s “angry white male cult”). But again, this is complete hogwash. Sanders has actually done better with young women than young men — a USA Today poll taken in the midst of the primaries found that Millennial women backed “Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.” Similarly, while Clinton has dominated with African American voters overall, young black and Hispanic voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Clinton, according to a Gallup survey from May. Indeed, Sanders is viewed even more favorably among black millennials than white millennials. The survey also found that Sanders is viewed more favorably among millennial women than millennial men, and that millennials were the most left-leaning generation.
This seems to validate the notion that the youngest generation is the most progressive generation and that they like Bernie Sanders because he’s the most progressive candidate (I know, it’s crazy that voters would support a politician because of his or her politics and ideas rather than his or her gender or ethnicity). . .