Are Trolls Sparking a Potential Political Backlash?

According to Wikipedia[1], “… a troll is a person who starts flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, either for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

While Democrats and their “traditionalist”[2] Republican allies, the “Deep State”[3], the corporate media and the major Internet platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) all accuse foreign adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran of using “troll farms” to disrupt United States political campaigns, the truth, as I and other independents and third party advocates have experienced it, is that trolling seems an official and, at first blush, effective Democratic Party strategy, as is the practice of accusing others of all the negative things of which Democratic politicians and activists are in fact guilty, both successful Clinton trademarks, something you would never know through a Google search of the Internet where all search results not only ignore such reality but contrive to portray a totally different narrative.  Still, for those of us, mainly to the left of the Democratic Party, mostly independents and third party advocates, our experience on a quotidian basis is very different than that portrayed. 

As has now become traditional, Democratic trolls are launching constant personal attacks anytime anything critical of the Democratic Party or its candidates is posted online, even while many of them acknowledge that their candidates and history are evil, … just … purportedly less so.  The attacks, frequently by our own acquaintances, friends and family members, become increasingly rude and personal if one does not succumb and fade away, apparently in an attempt to bully us into silence (if not acquiescence).  Oddly, the same is not true of conservatives who, although opposed to our philosophies and policy proposals, generally engage in much more respectful and polite debate, acknowledging that we each have a right to our opinions.  Who, perhaps other than George Orwell and Cassandra[4], would have imagined that it would be the Democratic Party rather than the GOP that engaged in such undemocratic, unlibertarian conduct, although one wonders if perhaps efforts similar to those engaged in by Democratic Party partisans against those of us on the real left are not mirrored by traditionalist Republican Party partisans with respect to those to their right on the political spectrum? 

Being a leftist, I wouldn’t know. I’m a left-wing political advocate, analyst and activist, both in the United States and abroad, and a dedicated democratic socialist[5].  For the past five decades, I have maintained current on world and political affairs on a daily basis through diverse sources with widely varying perspectives.  Those now include traditional mainstream online media such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, etc.; local Colombian media such asEl Tiempo, el Espectador, la Patria, Semana, las Dos Orillas, El Eje 21, Razón Publica, etc.; diverse other foreign sources such as The Guardian, The Panam Post, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, RT, etc.[6]; and, most importantly, alternative news sites such as Consortium News, Truthdig, Counterpunch, the Duran, Common Dreams, Medium, Vocal, etc.  The diversity of my sources seems anathema to my Democratic Party critics who believe that only sources that support their positions (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.) should be consulted and cited.  That such sources today are obviously biased and all too frequently ethnocentric, incoherent, self-contradictory and distortive is irrelevant.  However, it is apparently not enough that the major Internet platforms are censoring independents and third party advocates as well as right wingers; apparently, everyone must be incorporated into the Democratic Party’s efforts to silence anyone who does not toe the Democratic line, but ironically and oxymoronically, in the name of tolerance and freedom of speech.

George Orwell and many other authors predicted this in many of their writings including Animal Farm, 1984, 451, Harrison Bergeron, etc., but they always assumed that such intolerance would originate from the fascist right rather than from a philosophy-free, pragmatic center seeking to falsely portray itself as the political left.  Hypocrisy and disdain for truth are its hallmarks with constant repetition on all available media substituting for historical accuracy and logic.  Using B.F Skinner’s behaviorist psychology, they are seemingly attempting to prove the accuracy of claims by Vladimir Lenin and Herman Goering that big enough lies constantly repeated will, at least among enough people, replace truth in the public narrative.  One feels as though Democratic Party trolls are secretly Star Trek Borg repeating the mantra “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!”[7]

As one of the many victims of the foregoing I feel as though I am trapped in a dystopian science fiction novel.  Friends and family members have succumbed and, some, like zombies, have turned into ruthless adversaries.  No opinions are tolerable but their own even if the social and political consequences will eventually prove to be ones they will profoundly regret.  However, as experience during this millennium has demonstrated, the reality of consequences can be expunged by false narratives and if the false narrative momentum can be maintained, a working majority of the deluded can be maintained.

As a democratic socialist I am committed to the premise that we have a dual nature.  We are each individuals but concurrently, members of a number of social collectives and while such natures can usually be reconciled, when reconciliation is impossible, our collective natures must prevail.  The character “Spock” in the science fiction television series Star Trek puts it well when he exclaims (as he frequently does), “logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”  Based on the foregoing, I believe in a number of collectivist sociopolitical and economic policies anathema to the right wing of the political spectrum, among them, universal healthcare, free education at all levels, free insurance, a guaranteed minimum wage, a non-interventionist foreign policy, peaceful resolution of conflict at all levels, ecological responsibility, equity and equality, and, I believe in libertarian concepts such as non-interference by government in personal decisions that do not detrimentally impact non-involved others (such as consensual sexual relations, consumption of intoxicants, etc.).  Many Democrats believe in the foregoing as well and sincerely believe that the Democratic Party is the best political tool to attain them (e.g., Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, etc.), however, the reality is that the Democratic Party, like its counterpart, the GOP, has long been politically controlled by economic elites who also own most of the corporate media (see, e.g., “These 15 Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies”).  Consequently, both major political parties generally implement the same neoliberal globalist economic policies through the same neoconservative interventionist and militarist means.  While both parties seem all too similar in their actions if not their rhetoric, because many people who believe in goals similar to those I espouse are trapped in the Democratic Party (rather than involved in a political movement of their own whose actions rather than orotundity reflect their goals), I see the Democratic Party as far more of an impediment to attainment of my aspirations than is the GOP.  Thus, while I criticize Republican policies and actions as adversarial to mine, especially in foreign affairs, more of my criticism is directed at the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party where my sociopolitical soulmates are not only trapped, but their efforts at real reform are rendered ineffective and their aspirations, like mere mirages, are always just out of reach.

In 2016 many of us believed that the electoral choices hoisted upon us by the two major parties (with the essential assistance of the corporate news which assured that independents and third party candidates were rendered invisible) were as bad as they could get but the Democratic Party has seen to it that the choices in 2020 are at least as bad.  Notwithstanding what was until then the most biased media coverage and polling ever, the most aggressive domestic trolling campaign ever, and, apparently, illegal intervention in the election by the Obama administration, in 2016 the preordained and manipulatively selected Democratic Party candidate lost; an unacceptable and unaccepted result, not only for the Democratic Party but for the Deep State which was profoundly invested in its candidate and extremely distrustful of the Republican nominee who had somehow managed to elude Deep State gatekeepers in the GOP. 

Even before the inauguration of the unanticipated victor, the Democratic Party called for his immediate impeachment and launched an effectively organized and savage, no holds barred “resistance” with well-financed and pre-organized protest crowds ready for any opportunity, all too frequently accompanied by rioters, arsonists and looters, all impugning the legitimacy of the election and doing everything possible to make the United States ungovernable and the United States population miserable[8].  Amazingly, for a long time, such efforts seemed unsuccessful as, despite his boorish personality, unpredictability, penchant for not verifying information and lack of diplomacy in dealing with other countries, President Trump inexplicably accomplished a great many of the goals he had set for his administration and the United States economy reached milestones in many areas, including areas where minorities had never fared as well.  But, almost as if in the form of divine (or demonic) intervention, the Covid19 pandemic came to the rescue, a curse to most everyone in the world but a blessing to the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the deep State.  Finally a scenario existed where everything the President did could be criticized effectively, notwithstanding what decisions he made or failed to make.  The task was greatly facilitated by the federal nature of the United States which the citizenry, for the most part, does not understand, a scheme of governance that makes authority and responsibility difficult to place and easy to misrepresent.  If the President acted (e.g., as when he claimed authority to reopen the national economy) he was usurping state rights, if he accepted that certain functions were the prerogatives of governors (e.g., as he eventually did with the same issue as well as with mandates to wear filtering head-ware, etc.), he was failing to lead.  A perfect setting for his opponents to whom the public welfare was not nearly as relevant as was regaining political supremacy.  Traditional Republicans loyal to the Deep State quickly jumped ship and joined the Democrats where, notwithstanding their former status are reviled enemies, they were now proudly showcased as patriots who placed country over party.

To independents and third party advocates all of the foregoing should have provided the catalyst for finally making it clear to the electorate that both major parties were inept, jaded, ineffective and power mad with little interest in the common welfare.  Bernie Sanders once gain promptly surrendered and delivered his adherents to the masters of the status quo, and Tulsi Gabbard, the real hope of many was promptly ostracized from Democratic Party debates through impromptu rules changes and rendered invisible by fraudulent pollsters and the corporate media.  Given the nature of the resulting major party candidates, 2020 ought to be a perfect year for consideration of available alternatives (although it’s been 160 years since a third party candidate attained the presidency) but alas, the world has changed drastically since the halcyon days of the 1860’s (satire, of course, … pretty much, … comparably).  Communication has become so monopolized that a similar result seems virtually impossible, as Democratic Party trolls so frequently remind us.  The reality is that, amazingly, despite a plethora of presidential candidates in addition to those of the two major parties (see, e.g., “Third party and independent candidates for the 2020 United States presidential election”), the corporate media has made it seem as though there are only two choices and, those of us who are trying to correct that misimpression through posts on social media and articles published on alternative media are being subjected to vicious personal attacks, distortions and interference by the aforementioned army of Democratic Party trolls. 

So, what to do?

One option, one I do not recommend but which may come to pass, is to turn the Democratic Party’s trolling campaign into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  To protest their actions by voting for what they themselves are making seem to some of us as the real lesser of two evils, their opponent.  By acting as though we were what they claim we are.  That would probably be emotionally satisfying but probably counterproductive.  Another GOP upset of a corporate media pre-crowned Deep State candidate might well be the best thing possible for the left-wing of the Democratic Party making it at least theoretically possible to depose the entrenched, Deep State-allied leadership that since 1992 has moved the Democratic Party from the left, through the center, and now to the right of the political spectrum.  But that is the hope that too many progressives have clung to, the hope of change-from-within that has been unsuccessfully sought for decades during which the Democratic Party has strewn the field with the political corpses of progressive heroes like Dennis Kucinich[9] and now Tulsi Gabbard.  

The real answer lies in replacing the Democratic Party with a real leftist political party, one that would really represent African Americans, Latinos and other minorities but without setting us all at each other’s throats, one that would debate policies with its political adversaries without resort to character assassination, distortions and violence; one that was not wholly owned by the globalist, neoliberal Deep State and its billionaire masters.  Indeed, perhaps the Democratic Party could fuse with traditionalist Republicans in an official Deep State party, without meddlesome political philosophies and outside political spectra and the current Republican Party could become a Trump led Tea Party with libertarian Republicans returning to fortify the Libertarian Party.  The real answer is that a two-party system is not democratic.  We need multiple parties, parties with equal rights to political participation and news coverage, and we need an independent, non-monopolized news media.  We do need electoral reform but real reform, eliminating elections by mere pluralities, something most of the rest of the world has already done, something already tried and true.  We need real change and expecting those who most benefit by the inequitable and inefficient current political system to be the instruments of change is foolish.  And we need that change to start now by doing everything possible to support independent and third party candidates, especially when the choices of the two major parties are so abysmal.  And we need to do so while forgiving our “trollish” tormenters because, as Jesus purportedly exclaimed with his dying breath, “they know not what they’re doing”.

Something to not only think about but on which to act.  If you agree, please share this article or even better, write one of your own and circulate it.  And in any event, ignore the trolls and keep posting what you believe.[10]
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.


[1] Admittedly not the best of sources from an academic perspective but a great place to start.

[2] Traditionalist Republicans include those who are neither libertarians nor part of the so called Tea Party movement but rather loyal to traditional establishment policies some of whom identify themselves as “never-Trumpers”.

[3] The “Deep State” in the United States is a loose, informal alliance between unelected bureaucrats, primarily in justice, defense and intelligence agencies, who do not change based on electoral results; the purportedly mainstream media now consolidated among six news and entertainment conglomerates as well as the owners of the principle Internet platforms (e.g., Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia, etc.); and, most billionaires who, especially since the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 [2010]), now control both major political parties and own most of the mainstream media. It is dedicated to globalist neoliberal economics implemented through neoconservative military and interventionist policies seeking to maintain the world in a constant state of belligerence justifying enormous expenditures on defense. The Deep State seeks to have its policies implemented regardless of electoral results by promoting political allies and destroying elected officials they cannot reliably control. The Deep State is not a United States phenomena, rather, it is associated with similar collaborative structures in other pseudo-democratic systems, although it is the dominant and most important such structure.

[4] Cassandra was the Trojan seeress, daughter of King Priam, who accurately predicted the future but was never believed.

[5] From 2007 through 2017 I was a lecturer on government, political science and international affairs chairing the related programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales and since 2017 have served as an adjunct professor in the master´s program on Social Justice and as a peer reviewer of publications and graduate theses at the Universidad de Caldas, and, as a translator for the official publication of the National University of Colombia’s Political Studies & International Affairs Institute.

[6] See a myriad of such sources at NationsOnline.org.

[7] Not to mention the dozens of daily emails with which we are bombarded daily from Democratic Party activists and allied issue based organizations, each seeking money and, intermittently, advice or signatures to self-serving “petitions”.

[8] Ironically, during the 2016 campaign, when the Republican candidate had declined to pre-approve the results of the pending election, both the corporate media and the leadership of the Democratic Party had joined the Democratic Party candidate in calling the refusal to accept the legitimacy of a presidential election treasonous.

[9] Gerrymandered from office with the collusion of the national Democratic Party in 2012.

[10] This article is dedicated to friends who will remain nameless but who know who they are.

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