Smug liberals got played too


Hey, you liberals who flocked to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, then stayed home from the polls or threw your vote to Jill Stein because you’d become convinced that Hillary Clinton wasn’t progressively pure enough for you … The Russians played you too.

Thanks to the 37-page indictment released yesterday from special counsel Robert Mueller, we know conclusively that the Russian operation to undermine Clinton and boost the chances of then-candidate Donald Trump also included pushing pro-Sanders messages in the primaries and seeking to suppress the Democratic vote or steer voters toward third parties, especially Stein, during the general election.

Read the excerpts for yourself.

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If you think these efforts didn’t affect the outcome of the race, think about this: The number of votes Stein won in Michigan was four times greater than Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton in the state. And without winning Michigan, Trump doesn’t win the White House.

As painted in the indictment, these efforts were less about Russian love for Trump (other than as a classic Chekist “useful idiot“) and more about their intense dislike for Hillary Clinton:

The Russian operations on social media were meant to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton and other candidates, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. And they were supposed to support Sanders and Trump.

“Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them),” they were directed, according to the indictment.

This was because the Russians involved really didn’t like Hillary Clinton.

Around September 14 in 2016, for example, one “account specialist” of a Russian-controlled Facebook group called “Secured Borders” was reprimanded for having a “low number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton.”

The specialist was also told, “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton.”

I could see this unfolding in real time on social media as I watched many of my very liberal friends, family, students, and former students become increasingly hostile toward Clinton and alienated from the mainstream of the Democratic Party as they first embraced Sanders and then Stein.

They had convinced themselves that there was no substantive difference between Trump and Clinton, and therefore it mattered not whether they “voted their conscience” and cast a ballot for Stein or simply stayed home in protest.

And they often justified their decisions by repeating the Russian attacks and talking points flooding social media.

In the year and half since the election, many of those same liberals have smugly pointed at the ease with which Republicans, especially the so-called white working class, were manipulated into backing a carnival barker for president.

So, liberals, how does it feel knowing that the Russians got you too?


  1. Stephen Jurcak says


    This chord resonates with me. I was appalled to listen to my brother grow more and more extreme in his views toward Clinton and more apathetic regarding the election result. It was only in framing the election as a national security concern in late October 2016 that I was able to help him see the light. Many colleagues and former classmates, however, fell into the carefully laid Russian trap that you’ve underscored here. It is a sad day for our democratic processes.

    • Pete Trumbore says

      I would agree. I watched numerous otherwise smart people become increasingly hostile toward Clinton and disenchanted and disconnected from the electoral process while spouting the Russian-fed narratives running rampant across social media. A lot of damage was done.

      • Aitor Gonzalez says

        It angered me so much when people I knew to be politically active decided to either not vote, vote for Stein, or worse voted for Trump. These were all Bernie supporters. I support Bernie, and love him but since he didn’t make it past the primaries, I knew that my vote still mattered and voted for Hillary because lack of experience and being a celebrity is not what makes a President. I knew the e-mail scandal was a nothing burger, and folks that showed vitriol towards Hillary was because of those Russian-fed narratives. It makes me wonder what we are going to expect in future elections.

        • Pete Trumbore says

          By all accounts, we should expect to see more of the same kind of divisive interference. We’ve already seen how Russian bots and trolls have been magnifying the extremes at both ends of the gun control debate in the wake of first Las Vegas and now Parkland. There have been warnings for nearly a year that this year’s midterm elections are likewise at risk of Russian meddling and that little or nothing has been done to prepare for that. Without leadership from the White House, there is no coordinated national response. And there is no sign that Trump is interested in one.

  2. Will Schnieder says

    “The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010 that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.” – Citizens United v. FEC

    I fail to see how this supposed ‘electioneering’ from Russia is in any way unethical when a decade ago it was made explicitly clear that monetary expenditures on election campaigns (aka quasi-legal bribery) was a-okay. The Russians simply played and beat America’s most corrupt and powerful oligarchs at their own game.

    “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” Last time I checked, most/all of the advertisements were bought legally by American citizens and political groups. Since when does it matter to Clinton’s advocates whether or not the money came from adversarial governments with a history of human rights abuse (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman)? Indicting the foreign agents for blatantly lying to and intentionally dividing the American people only makes sense if we intend to do the same to the equally guilty domestic ones.