Donald Trump's Latest Tweets Reveal His Plan for Bernie Voters

July 24th 2016

Aron Macarow

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responded via Twitter to news of Democratic National Committee email leaks over the weekend, posting a series of comments expressing apparent concern for the Democratic Party's treatment of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). His comments come ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday in Philadelphia.

But Trump's apparent concern for Sanders may be a cynical attempt to undermine support for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton through "concern trolling," about which more later.

Tweeting that the party and Clinton have "total disrespect" for Sanders, Trump attacked DNC staff for what some feel was inappropriate internal DNC support of Clinton's candidacy.

Trump also called out Clinton's pick of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as her choice for vice president, insinuating that Kaine "stands for the opposite" of Sanders' platform.

Trump also suggested in his tweets that Sanders should have won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination — arguing that superdelegates stole the election for Clinton.

Trump isn't actually concerned for Sanders or his fans, though.

So what is the New York real estate mogul up to? Trump's motivation becomes clearer via this one tweet, in which he asks if Kaine's nomination will lead to a "Philly fight" at the Democratic National Convention.

The Donald is engaging in "concern trolling," which Wikia defines as participating "in a debate posing as an actual or potential ally," but actually acting as "a critic." When someone "concern trolls," he raises issues as though they matter to him, when in fact they don't: The goal is to increase dissension or doubt in a targeted community.

Why is this important?

Trump's mock concern is disingenuous. Consider:

  • The DNC email hack reportedly contained a lot of personal donor information, but Vox and other outlets have reported that "no bombshells have been discovered" in the leaked emails so far.
  • The argument that Clinton won the nomination only because of superdelegates — a position posited by some ardent Sanders supporters — has also previously been debunked.
  • The Republican presidential nominee obviously has no actual reason to be concerned about Sanders' candidacy — at least beyond his ability to pick up Bernie voters who may have trouble moving over to Clinton's camp.
  • Sanders has already given his support to Clinton's choice of Kaine as VP, telling CNN: "On his worst, worst, worst day, Tim Kaine is 100 times better than Donald Trump will ever be."

Whether Trump's blatant attempt to divide and conquer the Democratic base will work remains to be seen.