The Bernie Sanders’ answer

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. Photo: The Guardian, Drew Angerer, Getty Images (Click on the photo to read the Guardian article by Arwa Mahdawi)

Beyond the roaring of those trying to boot Bernie Sanders off the political pitch, including fellow Democrats and much of the media, his grass-roots approach, which combines both intense social media presence, bringing a real discourse rather than summary, raging tweets, with intensive direct contact with voters rather than slogan-filled, mass-media shows, might well be the answer to Trump. Sanders’ open, ‘distributed’, grass-roots approach trumps (excuse the pun) the outdated broadcast model, based on centralised, occult power, followed by Trump. Sanders offers workable solutions and goals worth struggling to reach, whereas Trump spouts division and sparks hatred with his sole programme being ‘Trust in me’.

Update: misinformation and fear trump reason

I just listened to a Guardian podcast entitled Inside Trump’s Facebook campaign presented by Rachel Humphreys with Julia Carrie Wong. It sheds new light on what I wrote above, calling it into question. As a thoughtful person myself, Sanders’ approach on Instagram appealed to me. At last, someone with a reasoned response, not someone who was stirring up hatred and division with empty slogans. But what is not apparent is how the platform favours certain types of message and how targeted ads spread falsehoods and hatred without the slightest oversight.

According to Julia Carrie Wong, Trump’s campaign uses the dynamics of social media that “reward divisiveness, anger, exclusion, us-them thinking.” She explains that such attitudes “thrive in algorithmic eco-sphere where things that are driving the most emotion are the things you are seeing more and more.” She contrasts this Trumpian approach with that of politicians who urge people to be thoughtful, to sit back and consider their options. (*) She points out this is not a response Facebook is interested in. Facebook wants people to react and click, not sit back and think. According to her, all Democrats with the exception of Bloomberg are adopting the reasoned approach. Only the two millionaires are appealing to people’s negative emotions.

I strongly advise you to listen to Inside Trump’s Facebook campaign. It goes on to examine how thousands of targeted Trump ads hammer home falsehoods to chosen groups of people with the help of Facebook staff. It points out that Facebook has chosen not to vet political messages, claiming that freedom of speech requires such laisser-faire. According to Zuckerberg, it is the role of the other media to uncover falsehoods. But the balance of power between online media and other forms of media no longer guarantees the effective exercise of such checks and balances.

See also an article by McKay Coppins on The Atlantic entitled The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President.

(*) The frequent failure of reasoned discourse to attract extensive attention on Facebook must come as an eye-opener to all those, like myself, who are trying to get readers to think about key questions.

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