With sniping and infighting rocking the Democratic Party, former White House staffer Ben Rhodes has warned the left to be on the lookout for those ever-present “Russian trolls,” drawing ridicule.
“Have no doubt that Russian trolls will work to exploit the divisions opening up in the Democratic coalition,” Rhodes tweeted. “Let’s debate and respect our differences without losing sight of our common objectives” – with voting President Donald Trump out of office presumably among those objectives.
Rhodes’ warning to Democrats comes at a tumultuous time for the party. With a group of newly-elected lawmakers breaking ranks with the party establishment on immigration law, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been biting in her criticism of the progressive upstarts on the party’s left-most wing.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez –among those who clashes most often with Pelosi– has responded to the 79-year old speaker’s criticism by accusing her of targeting “newly elected women of color,” while a top aide to Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to accuse a moderate Native American congresswoman of voting to “enable a racist system,”triggering counter accusations of racism from the party.
Add another racism spat between the Justice Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus and it becomes clear that the Democratic Party is perfectly capable of tearing itself apart without any Russian help.
Rhodes was mocked by commenters. “Have no doubt that Obama/Clinton trolls will work to exploit Russiagate to dismiss or minimize divisions in the Democratic coalition, as they have since 2016. Let’s debate our differences without falling victim to this habit of blaming a Russian bogeyman for our own issues,”tweeted journalist Aaron Mate, whose reporting on the American media’s ‘Russiagate’ fixation earned him an Izzy Award earlier this year.
“You have to question the basic intellectual ability of anyone who still thinks that mythical Russian trolls are behind all political schisms in America,” replied radio host Patrick Henningsen.
“Russia paranoia has been used from the beginning to stigmatize deviations from establishment consensus and neutralize dissent,”wrote commenter Michael Tracey. ‘That will no doubt continue.”
Indeed, Russian trolls have been accused of fanning the flames of division and dissent in the US since election season 2016. Using internet memes and gifs, trolls connected with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) supposedly tipped the election in favor of Trump, and continue to exploit social and racial divisions in America for the Kremlin’s benefit.
Except that argument is all but dead. Despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion that these trolls engaged in “sweeping and systemic” meddling in the election, a federal judge revealed last week that Mueller’s charges against the IRA failed to link the “troll farm” to the Russian government.