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—
You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2016
—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—
1) This shouldn't be a debate about who gets to define "progressive"—it should be about who will get real results for American families.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2016
—that was followed by some arguments about the meaning of the word “progressive.”
3) An important part of being a progressive is making progress. From health care to fighting inequality, Hillary's record speaks for itself.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2016
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.
4) Hillary's not running to make a point—she's running to make a difference. She'll keep doing that. Please feel free to keep tweeting.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2016
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.