The world of social media has created a toxic enviroment for communication.


I hate Twitter. What used to be a goofy social media website where I used to make lame jokes with my friends has been turned into quite possibly the most obnoxious political messaging tool of the last decade. But it’s not just Twitter, social media, from Facebook to Reddit, is a never-ending battle ground for people who’ve built their political ideology through memes. 

From that Infowars loving uncle on Facebook to that mutual acquaintance from high school who’s #stillwithher on Twitter, there’s always a fight. One fight has been raging for what seems like an eternity. I’m talking, of course, about the 2020 democratic primary.      

Even years before the Democratic Primary was slated to begin, contenders began popping into existence. Former Vice President Joe Biden was naturally the first name to come up. As Barack Obama’s VP, he had a cuddly, goofy uncle kind of image. Bernie Sanders was always going to run again, maybe the DNC won’t shaft him this time around. Elizabeth Warren, another popular name within the party, became another obvious pick. By the time CNN started running primary debates in June of 2019, over 25 candidates were in the race. 

At the time of this writing, we’re days away from the Iowa caucuses, and the field has finally narrowed. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, the two billionaires (Tom Steyer and Micheal Bloomberg), Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Michael Bennet, and Tulsi Gabbard are the remaining contenders. That’s right folks, only 11 candidates left. 

At this point in the game, it’s likely that the race will come down between 4 candidates. On the progressive side, you’ve got Bernie and Warren (though the two of them are at odds now). Over on team moderate, Biden and Mayor Pete are the likely contenders. This primary season has always been heated. But the last couple of months have been particularly incendiary.

 The deep fissure within the party existing between moderates and progressives is more exposed than ever. As the candidates begin to attack each other, so too do the potential voters across social media. The moderates don’t like the progressives and the progressives despise the moderates.

Bernie Sanders’ Twitter following, the so called “Bernie Bros” are known to be particularly nasty among media pundits and fans of many of the moderate candidates. As a guy who’s more than likely going to vote for Bernie in the primary, I’ll be the first to admit that his online following can be obsessively ravenous and mean-spirited, comparable only to hardline Trump supporters in terms of absolute loyalty to a candidate and aggression. To much of the Bernie Twitter I’ve interacted with, support of anyone else is a vote for evil corporations and is essentially the same or worse than voting for Trump. 

As much as I can rip hardcore Sanders supporters for being annoying, I can do the same for many of the most ardent detractors of the progressive movement. Sanders and his supporters have been labeled everything from racist and/or sexist bigots to Russian disinformation robots. They’re also frequently blamed for Trump’s victory in 2016, despite Bernie campaigning for Clinton after the primary. All of this centrist criticism is topped off with the dubious claims that despite the popularity of many items on the progressive agenda, that progressive candidates are completely unelectable (this last bit goes for Warren just as strongly as it does Bernie). 

I understand the criticism each side is hurling at one another — even if many of these critiques are wildly exaggerated or flat out nonsense. As democrats, we’re a big tent party with lots of different ideological viewpoints to contend with and it can be tough to find common ground. But frankly, whoever gets the democratic nomination is getting my vote (okay, maybe not Tulsi or either of the billionaires). 

I can’t afford any other choice. I lost my health insurance in 2018 due to premium increases in the ACA. The same goes for most of my family. Forgive me if I don’t see any kind of substitute coming from a GOP led government. The plethora of healthcare plans being floated by the Dem nominees, from Bernie with his signature Medicare for all policy (my preferred plan) to Biden’s hopes to expand the ACA, are all significantly better than what I’ve got now, as I find myself hoarding up on antibiotics because I can’t afford a trip to the doctor. That same standard is set on virtually every other issue I care about from climate change to taxes.

Twitter is not real life, but with the divisiveness I see on it anytime I open up the app, it’s tough not to worry. By all means, vote your conscious in the primary. That’s what it’s for. If your candidate of choice doesn’t win, that sucks and I’m sorry. But for the love of God, please vote in the general.

 I really don’t want to vote for Joe ‘No Malarkey’ Biden, but I’ll do it with a smile if it comes down to him or Trump. If the thought to abstain from voting floats through your mind, think of the most vulnerable among us. The people who faced serious consequences from the results of 2016, be it uninsured diabetics having to ration their insulin or children sitting in detention centers at our southern border. Think really hard about those people, and act accordingly.

The opinions written by columnists are not reflective of the opinions held by the Eastern Progress Media Network or by the university.

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