From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Trolls Are Sowing Discord Between Sanders and Warren Supporters
Date October 11, 2019 2:10 AM
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[ At the debates, Sanders and Warren have stood shoulder to
shoulder, defending Medicare for All from tepid centrists. The two are
longtime political allies. Its time for their supporters to do the
same, and not get baited into flame wars.] [[link removed]]

TROLLS ARE SOWING DISCORD BETWEEN SANDERS AND WARREN SUPPORTERS  
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Joel Bleifuss
October 4, 2019
In These Times
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_ At the debates, Sanders and Warren have stood shoulder to shoulder,
defending Medicare for All from tepid centrists. The two are longtime
political allies. It's time for their supporters to do the same, and
not get baited into flame wars. _

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren stand side by side at a
press conference July 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C., highlighting the
danger Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination poses to the
rights of historically marginalized communities., Photo by Tasos
Katopodis/Getty Images // In These Times

 

As the Democratic primaries approach, relationships between supporters
of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the
two most viable progressive presidential contenders to ever face off
in the Democratic primaries, are beginning to fray. Though, in
general, goodwill continues to prevail—Warren’s campaign team sent
dinner and cookies to Sanders’ campaign staff following his heart
procedure—lately tempers have been heating up, ignited by
injudicious comments and outright nasty jibes that take on a life of
their own in social media. Consider these recent examples.

It is unclear how many of the attacks on Working Families staff were
sent by bots or covert agitators, but Time reports that many of the
attacks were “accompanied with the hashtag #BernieorBust,” which
was commonly used in 2016 by Russian trolls.

On CNN in September, Emily Tisch Sussman, a former vice president at
the Center for American Progress, attempted to shame progressives who
support Sanders: “If you are still supporting Sanders as opposed to
Warren, it’s kind of showing your sexism. Because she has more
detailed plans, and her plans have evolved.”

On the Bernie side of the fence, you have political commentator
Benjamin Studebaker, who, in a critique
[[link removed]] of
progressive media coverage of the race, had this to say about Warren:

She’s as bad as Hillary. She’s worse, because Hillary made it
obvious, and she hides it so well that for months, the left press has
gone easy on her. No more. Don’t give her an inch, because she’ll
take a mile. Be relentless. She’s Harris. She’s Biden. She’s
Booker. Make it so.

Aimee Terese, who cohosts the “What’s Left?
[[link removed]]” podcast with Studebaker,
likewise gives Warren no quarter, tweeting: 

Then there was the brouhaha that erupted when the Working Families
Party (WFP), which in 2016 backed Sanders, voted in September to
endorse Warren.

WFP polled two groups of people, what it described as “tens of
thousands” of supporters (party members and/or subscribers to the
party’s online newsletter) and the 56 members of the party’s
national committee. The votes of each of the two groups, the
supporters and the leadership, were weighted, with each receiving 50%
stake in the final outcome. Once the votes were tallied, Warren won
61% of the weighted vote. WFP, however, refused to release the vote
tallies from each group as it has in past election cycles, leading
Sanders supporters to suspect that their candidate was the preferred
choice of the members, and Warren the pick of the party leaders (a
group who played a role in the selection process analogous to the
Democratic Party’s superdelegates).

Some outraged Sanders supporters lashed out on twitter, attacking
Maurice Mitchell, WFP’s national director and Nelini Stamp, WFP’s
national organizing director, both of whom are black. This prompted
more than 100 black leaders to sign a letter decrying the attacks,
that read in part:

[Mitchell and Stamp] are being threatened on a daily basis, by
self-identified Sanders supporters, with hateful, violent and racist
threats. “Uncle Tom.” “Slave.” “Cunt.” These kinds of
threats have no place in our movements, and are reminiscent of the
threats Black people would receive when daring to vote …

Indeed, according to screenshots of deleted tweets captured by _Time
[[link removed]] _magazine,
one Sanders supporter, addressing Mitchell, tweeted: “Why not have
the balls to respond you cunt. You half man. You corporatist. You
SLAVE!” Another pro-Sanders tweeter said of Warren, “She wants to
bring you back to incremental slavery of neoliberalism. @SenSanders is
the progressive future, you [sic] choice stinks of corruption.”

This disturbed Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, who has not
endorsed any candidate. She wrote on _Medium
[[link removed]]_:

When a party issues an endorsement, particularly a party that hones
its focus on families that are struggling every day to live with
dignity, it is right for those of us who care about the same things to
interrogate the process. …

But what we cannot do, what we must not do, is devolve into such
nastiness that we wish cancer on their families, call them Uncle Toms
who are dancing for slave masters, wish that they would be raped, and
the like. I cannot say that we are better than that because I’ve
seen the tweets. But what I know is that we who long for freedom and
safety and dignity and justice will not win if we cannot be
distinguished from the Right

Mitchell says he is pleased that there are “two champions of
Medicare for All and a wealth tax in this race.” But he is
unapologetic about the party’s endorsement:

Senator Warren has an unmatched ability to explain in everyday terms
how our economy and democracy got rigged, who rigged them, and how we
can unrig them. She’s a fighter for working families who strikes
fear into the hearts of Wall Street and Silicon Valley CEOs. We’re
so glad there are two leading structural change candidates in this
primary, but we’re thrilled to support Warren.

Later that month, attacks against Warren by Sanders supporters again
erupted on Twitter after someone with the name @isamuel, a “Catholic
American Socialist” with more than 16,000 followers, reposted a
video clip of an interview in which Warren spoke about her mother
being part Cherokee and part Delaware (a claim she was unable to prove
and no longer makes). That video, which went viral, originated from a
person with the name @AlytaDeLeon, an “antiwar Mexican American
socialist.” They posted it as if it were a recent video, and not one
from 2012 that has long been in circulation. Since joining Twitter in
March, @AlytaDeLeon has sent out more than 7,000 tweets. We don’t
know why most of the recent ones are devoted to attacking Warren. The
person who tweets at @AlytaDeLeon did not respond to multiple
inquiries from _In These Times_.

What we do know is that Russia has already deployed a network of bots
and fake social media accounts to sow discord among Democratic voters
in 2020, just as it did in the 2016 election. The _Wall Street
Journal_ reported that during the June and July Democratic Debates:

Hundreds of social-media accounts with bot-like traits promoted
misinformation and content aimed at inflaming racial divisions. …
The hashtag #DemDebateSoWhite was tweeted Tuesday [July 30] night by
an account from a user with the name Susannah Faulkner and then shared
by conservative activist Ali Alexander. The hashtag received thousands
of interactions, but … a high number of the accounts using the
hashtag had bot-like characteristics. The original tweet appears to
have been taken down, but the hashtag continued circulate on Twitter
[[link removed]].

It is unclear how many of the attacks on Working Families staff were
sent by bots or covert agitators, or where they originated from,
but _Time_ reports that many of the attacks were “accompanied with
the hashtag #BernieorBust,” which was commonly used in 2016 by
Russian trolls to sow division between Sanders and Clinton supporters.

That’s not to say policy differences between the candidates
shouldn’t be vigorously debated. Progressives need to make an
informed decision. Sticking to smart critiques rather than hyperbole
and vitriol, however, could also pay political dividends. Warren and
Sanders appear set to go to the 2020 Democratic National Convention
with substantial numbers of delegates. Should no candidate win on the
first ballot, as seems likely, it is hard to see how either could get
the nomination without the other’s delegates.

At the debates, Sanders and Warren have stood shoulder to shoulder,
defending Medicare for All from tepid centrists. It’s time for their
supporters to do the same, and not get baited into flame wars.

_[JOEL BLEIFUSS, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the
University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In
These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.]_

_Reprinted with permission from In These Times
[[link removed]].
All rights reserved. _

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