For a while this afternoon, the people running the respective social media accounts of Hillary Clinton and Bernie sanders tweeted some things about each other’s candidate of choice. A small number of people saw them and were amused or irritated, but most people didn’t. None of it will make any difference on February 9, or Super Tuesday, or tomorrow.
The “debate” was a semantic one: which candidate could most honestly lay claim to being progressive—a term that picked up steam in contemporary politics mostly because liberals wanted something new to call themselves besides “liberal.” Bernie Sanders’ social media person subtweeted first—
—and then went on to subtweet some more about Clinton positions that aren’t suitably progressive: coziness with Wall Street, hawkishness, support for the TPP.
Then, Clinton’s social media person tweeted about how the debate shouldn’t be an argument about the meaning of the word “progressive.” A reasonable point—
—that was followed by some arguments about the meaning of the word “progressive.”
Finally, Clinton’s social media person rested his or her case with “Please feel free to continue tweeting,” a kicker so petty I’m sort of surprised Clinton’s social media person’s supervisor signed off on it.
A bunch of people looked at the tweets, fav’d them, retweeted them. Some of those people are reporters like me who will go on to write blog posts about them or put them on cable news. Our readers and viewers will look at them, maybe fav or retweet them as well. Then they’ll forget about it, look at some more tweets, masturbate, have dinner, move on. Come primary day, they’ll vote for one or the other of these candidates based on a collection of rational and irrational calculations about likability, electability, tribal loyalty, sense of fairness or justice, and economic self-interest; or, just as likely, they won’t vote at all.