If you have been wondering how much of the conflict between supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders is Republican-inspired, you are not alone. There does seem to be a fair amount of internet jabber which appears to be designed to foment conflict between their followers. For example, Gideon Resnick reports in his post, “Trump Trolls Plot to Bait Bernie and Hillary Into Twitter Wars” at The Daily Beast:
“Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically,” the 4Chan thread on a recent weekend in May read.
The plan was simple: get a bunch of people to create pro-Bernie Sanders and pro-Hillary Clinton accounts and go to war on Twitter. The sham accounts would use hashtags to slander the opposite candidate and try to rile up die-hard fans into saying accusatory things to the supporters on the other side. The goal was to create more divisions and somehow use it to help Donald Trump gain more support.
“We need to take advantage of this,” the author of the original post wrote. “This is Trump’s gift. If we’re serious about a Trump presidency we need to start infiltrating their conversations in order to sow more divison. I’m talking systematic and long-term /mischief/, not just a hew [sic] minutes trolling dumbass SJW’s (social justice warriors).”
This particular scam didn’t end so well, since no new threads were launched by it, the stated goal of its proponent. There are other thinly-disguised Republican trolls foraging around on social media, as Resnick notes, quoting a Sanders supporter:
“Dear Admins (or whoever else wants to see what the other side is doing to troll us)… These idiots created a website on specific strategies to troll us,” Tam L. Cocar wrote, referring to the thread in the “Bernie Believers” Facebook group. “Unfortunately, a lot of it seems too familiar as of late. So if you have hours to waste to see how elaborate their trolling strategy has become (they seem deluded enough to fancy themselves as 007 types), please do. Why some moron would post this without the site being password protected I don’t understand.”
Very few Clinton or Sanders supporters take the bait. As Eric Varney, who runs a pro-Sanders Facebook page, explains of another troll ploy:
“An attempt like this would only work with people who are uneducated about the political system and do not know how to debate civilly,” Varney told The Daily Beast. “Neither the majority of Clinton or Sanders supporters are stupid. There are ignorant people on both sides who would fight the wind if it whistled wrong. But that’s the nature of social media.”
Those who are too time-challenged to noodle around on Twitter may notice suspicious posts on Facebook and other social media. Much of it reflects the civility of an unusually-immature jr. high school student. But Dems should probably assume that there are more sophisticated trolls out there trying to juice up divisions between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.
“Let’s you and her fight” trolls are likely wasting their time, since most Sanders and Clinton supporters are well-aware that their common adversary – the Trump campaign – would like nothing better than to divide Democrats. They recognize that Trump represents a radical departure from progressive values and his defeat should be the top priority for all Democrats after the convention.
None of this is to deny that there that there are some strongly-felt differences on key issues, independent of trollage, that need to be resolved by the two Democratic campaigns. Few supporters of Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders are going to be provoked by any of it, though both camps are wise to keep an eye out for GOP trolls who are trying to amp up the bickering between them.