June 5, 2019

Does Bashing Other Democratic Candidates Help Yours?

thumbs up and thumbs down

I have to remind myself periodically that the attitudes expressed on social media are not representative of how most people feel. I suspect that they aren't even terribly representative of how those expressing them feel most of the time. Far too many people seem to use social media primarily as a way to express outrage and condemn anyone who does or says something they don't like, creating a virtual cesspool that can turn almost anyone into a misanthrope.

It used to seem like squabbling over religion was the best example of this sort of thing. Those who adopted one religious tradition felt superior to everyone else and acted like we'd expect. The most animosity often seemed to take place between groups that were factions of the same religion and had far more in common than they liked to admit. While there is no denying that religious conflict is still a problem, I think much of the outrage we see on social media is now more about politics than religion. And much like the religious conflict, a great deal of it takes place among people who align with the same political party.

With as many Democratic candidates as we now have running for president, it comes as no surprise that each will have a dedicated group of supporters. What once would have been surprising and now just seems demoralizing is that each has an even more dedicated group of detractors. Showing that some on the left learned nothing from 2016, I have seen several people insisting that they will not vote for Joe Biden no matter what. And it isn't just Biden. Some former Clinton supporters are still evidently mad at Bernie Sanders and his supporters for various reasons. Others are holding grudges based on something Cory Booker did or said several years ago. Still others have apparently decided that they will not vote for any of the White candidates or any of the male candidates. On and on it goes.

I have never told anyone to "vote blue no matter who." I am not generally in the business of telling anyone how to vote in the first place, but this "no matter who" thing has never made any sense to me. The "who" always matters. That said, I believe I could vote for any of the Democrats currently running for president. There are some I'd be more eager to support than others, but I think I could vote for any of them in a general election against Trump.

Assuming that most of those I see on social media angrily attacking various candidates with over-the-top rhetoric are not Russian trolls, I have to wonder what they think they are accomplishing. I rarely see any of them explaining why others should support their preferred candidate, and that seems like a missed opportunity. I can understand why you dislike Biden (or whoever else you dislike), but I'd much rather hear about who you do like and why. Maybe you'll inspire me to learn more about your preferred candidate, and maybe I'll like what I learn. That sort of thing seems to have fallen out of favor though, hasn't it? If social media is primarily about outrage, maybe I'm wrong to expect anything else.