Kamala Harris Wants to Speak to Twitter’s Manager, But She Wants Elizabeth Warren’s HelpPhoto by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Politics Features Kamala Harris
We have reached dangerous levels of online, folks. This is a legitimate crisis. I don’t mean to be hyperbolic, but like the actual end of the world, there seems to be a rubicon which we either have passed or are about to surpass—where the physical existence around us is becoming irreversibly hostile to life as we know it. The space between the digital realm and our physical one is constantly shrinking, and last night during the Democratic presidential debate, the two may have fused together for good, distorting our reality and rendering us incapable of discerning atoms from bytes. We all have a hand in this waking nightmare, and people like me might as well be drug dealers in this digital smack game, but like Breaking Bad taught us, the Jesses of the world are powerless to stop the harm inflicted by the Walters.
Which means that first, I must fulfill my duty in this digital chain of command where politicians like Kamala Harris and cable stations like CNN produce copious amounts of content, which allows pushers like me to help you shoot that sweet blue light straight through your eyeballs and into your brain.
…what in the fresh hell is this?
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) October 16, 2019
Abandoning my snide tone to seriously address the very legitimate point the Senator is making: Trump uses his platform, especially Twitter, to incite anger and encourage vengeance against his enemies. Trump’s Twitter is incredibly toxic to the public conversation. It’s an empirical fact that the world would be a better place if it were stricken from the Earth.
But come on, people. This is a pathetic ploy to steal Elizabeth Warren’s progressive momentum, and the only question remaining is whether this righteously online crusade is more crass, obvious or stupid. The entire internet responded with one large groan the instant the stupidity of the whole thing washed over us.
Kamala Harris going after Elizabeth Warren on banning Trump from twitter is one of the more pathetic stunts I’ve seen in a debate.
— Jon Lovett (respookted on BOOth sides) (@jonlovett) October 16, 2019
Is Trump banned from Facebook too? Instagram? Fox News? CNN? Pinterest? Tumblr? Friendster? LinkedIn? What’s the play here? He’s the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. And we’re spending real political capital trying to kick him off a social network used by 22% of Americans? Team Kamala looked across the vast dystopian expanse that is 2019 and apparently determined that not properly implementing Twitter’s terms of service is at the root cause of much of the pain and misery in society. If Jack Dorsey just enforced the rules he made up while coming down from ayahuasca in a hut in Myanmar while pretending to care that he was vacationing near a genocide, the world would be a better place, so the story goes.
That this stunt was conceived by a campaign staffed to the gills with veteran Democratic players, especially from the super duper success of 2016, is emblematic of a party elite fundamentally detached from the tangible effects of politics. If we want to talk about fixing the root causes of harm in society—and that’s literally what running for president is all about—then there are far bigger fish to fry than Trump’s tweets.
If this seems stupid, that’s because that’s what makes this moment newsworthy. If Marianne Williamson did this, no one would care because it would be completely in character. The whole narrative of the Democratic race is “look at how many serious candidates we have to defeat this unserious man” and one legitimate candidate is desperately trying to get another to work together to kick Trump off one social network—which is definitely a real thing that is even possible to do. Ultimately, this stunt was more sad than anything, and it seems to reveal a campaign desperately searching for answers.
Kamala Harris has witnessed Elizabeth Warren score points across the ideological spectrum for her progressivism while “cop” Kamala has largely played the classic game, and this was a meek attempt to flank Warren’s left. Elizabeth Warren initially tried to save Kamala Harris from herself, and ignored her plea for a symbolic coupling that only benefited the smaller half, but after some continued persistence, the Senator from Massachusetts fired out an implicit threat to the Senator from California—but in the nice Democratic Party way where a lot of folks passively watching at home can’t tell that Warren just pointed a thermonuclear weapon at Kamala Harris and said “try me.”
”If we’re going to talk seriously about breaking up big tech, then we should ask if people are taking money from the big tech executives. If we’re going to talk seriously about breaking up big drug companies, then we should ask if people are taking money from big drug executives. If we are going to talk about Wall Street and having some serious regulation over Wall Street, we should ask if people are making money from their campaigns by taking money from those executives.”
Kamala Harris was quite eager to turn that moment into a moment, but the moment that Elizabeth Warren even referenced the receipts we all have access to, Harris quickly retreated. That clip is a (geopolitical) lesson in how escalating fights can sometimes immediately end fights.
It’s like the political gods demanded a metaphor for how the top of the Democratic Party over the last forty (at least) years has tried to cannibalize its grassroots energy and co-opt its message in a ham-fisted manner—sometimes in ways so absurd they seem beyond the realm of parody—and the Harris campaign was ready to answer the call. Elizabeth Warren wants to break up the tech monopolies and aggressively regulate Silicon Valley like never before…and Kamala Harris wants @jack to make @realDonaldTrump stop tweeting. These things are the same, apparently.
No word from the Harris campaign on whether the President of the United States is allowed to post on Facebook. Or WhiteHouse.gov. Or Tik Tok.
The Arctic is on fire, and CNN and the New York Times just planned a three hour debate that did not include a single question about the end of the world as we know it, and choose to end on a topic designed to beat the dead horse that is the Ellen-George W. Bush newscycle. Donald freaking Trump is the freaking president. Yet again, plutocrats are looting Rome as it burns. We present ourselves to the world as an unserious people in an extraordinarily serious moment—where the fate of mankind’s future seems to lie in mankind’s hands over the next decade—and a serious candidate for our president just spent actual TV time focusing on banishing one man’s tiny hands from typing his tiny tweets. The coming years will tell a great deal about who we Americans truly are, and if desperate, largely superfluous stunts like these wind up appealing to our better nature, then our dystopian future is certain to be filled with more losses to different versions of President Trump.
Jacob Weindling is a writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.