You’ve seen them. You’ve conversed with them. You may have even shouted at a couple. You may even be one, or in a process of recovery.
Now I know there are a lot of folks who identify as Obamabots, using the term endearingly to describe nothing more than a passionate supporter. That’s fine, and I wouldn’t discourage them for a moment; I’m just using the term rather differently here.
What is an Obamabot? For me, someone who:
• reacts with panic and/or outrage to any criticism of Obama or prominent Democrats
• regards any such criticism as a personal attack on Obama, the nation, or people of color (truth in advertising: I’m latte.)
• regards any criticism of Obama or prominent Democrats as an extraordinarily potent threat to their re-election which must be countered by any possible means
• is unable or unwilling to respond to any such criticism without scolding, name-calling, making fun of last names, and/or personal attacks (e.g., “takedowns”)
• lacks the knowledge or skills needed to respond to such criticism with reasoned arguments
• has cultivated indignation over a perceived indignity into an art form
• over-relies on “counterproductive” and its synonyms to discourage any criticism of a Democratic president
• cannot understand how anyone could disagree with Obama on anything and still vote for him (truth in advertising: like me)
• cannot understand how anyone who doesn’t do what they do could possibly think they’re a more effective advocate for a candidate or cause
• regards any criticism of them as criticism of Obama, Obama supporters, or Democrats in general
In short, an Obamabot is a demagogue who masquerades as a patriotic American on Twitter who’s trying to stifle dissent (and thus strangle our democracy) out of blind and fanatical devotion to a beloved leader.
Now why do I care? For an Obamabot, of course, the only thing I care about is destroying Obama.
I care primarily because I think our nation and civic traditions deserve more and better conversation, not less and worse.
Also, I don’t know the man, but I don’t suspect Obama wants Obamabots. My hunch is the man wants passionate people armed with nothing more than convictions and reasons volunteering for campaigns, talking to neighbors, and driving people to polling places.
I’m also impelled to write this by a growing sense that this kind of extremism might be just enough to turn off independent voters, something which Democrats just cannot afford to do.