Trump’s political opponents are using his combative Twitter strategy against him

Donald Trump Bernie Sanders Ted Lieu

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr Screenshots via @sensanders/@KamalaHarris/Twitter

Trump no longer has a monopoly on Twitter fire.

President Donald Trump’s unique tweeting habits have helped him build a public persona that is direct, candid, and pugnacious. While he is not the first politician to us Twitter as a direct mouthpiece to the people, he takes his candidness to a new level.  

But it’s worked, allowing him to control the narrative and keeping media attention on him. And now, his political opponents are increasingly turning to the social network with similar tactics to take back the platform.  

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have been two of the most vocal opposition figures, and now, they are joined by a new guard of Twitter political leaders, including Democrats Rep. Ted Lieu and Sen. Kamala Harris, both of California, who are not afraid to be combative—and are making names for themselves as a result.

Here are some of the best tweets from the Twitter opposition.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (@sensanders)

Almost immediately upon conceding his primary defeat to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sanders returned to the task of representing the state of Vermont in the Senate—and liberal netizens everywhere on Twitter.

Shortly after he conceded the election, he had this to say about Trump:

And his fighting words only increased in strength, leading to many to crown Bernie as the new leader of the resistance.

One of his most poignant and effective tweets came on Jan. 20, in direct response to Trump’s claims about his Inauguration Day crowd size:

More recently, Sanders has taken to Twitter to remind followers of the voters whom Trump has left behind:

And to advocate for the same progressive values that he campaigned on as a candidate and fought for as a senator:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren)

Warren’s progressive bona fides on and offline have drawn speculation regarding a potential presidential run for the senator. (She recently denied having White House-sized ambitions—but left the possibility open.) In the meantime, she tackles serious policy issues with tough questioning, persists in the face of blatant sexism, and, in the meantime, trolls Trump virally online:

When Warren’s fellow senators silenced her from reading Loretta Scott King’s letter, to protest against Jeff Sessions as attorney general, she responded forcefully with a tweetstorm that went viral.  

But her virality was not limited to her words. After the incident, #NeverthelessShePersisted became a trending hashtag and Warren herself had her progressive hero status solidified:

Rep. Ted Lieu (@tedlieu)

Before Lieu joined Congress in 2011, he served in the California State Assembly since 2005.  As a congressman representing California, Lieu maintains both an “official” Twitter, of the sort that you would expect to see from a politician, as well as his personal account, which is what you would hope to see from a politician—as if this version of Twitter is his anger translator, without the translator.  

His tweets since Trump’s election are delightfully snarky…

…Set the facts straight:

Provide smart context as an Air Force veteran:

And serves as a news round-ups for anyone that’s missed the latest:

Sen. Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris)

The freshman senator from California has been a social media star since before she even took office, taking to Twitter to defend American values:

One of her stand-out social media moments was in her amplification of the hashtag #DressLikeAWoman, in response to private remarks by Trump about how he would prefer that women dress in the office.

Harris is particularly vocal in her support of women.

While her trolling of Trump is more muted than that of her colleague, Lieu, she’s still not afraid to reveal her opinion, and constituents are noticing.

One of the reasons that Trump has always been so refreshing and appealing for his supporters was that he had no problem giving voice to—and sometimes stoking—the anger that many ordinary Americans feel. This is especially clear in contrast to politicians who are diplomatic and calculated—a key criticism lobbed at Clinton—and an environment that many believe to be stiflingly politically correct.

As his opponents are showing, however, Trump does not have a monopoly on expressing his emotions on Twitter. With liberal voices like Lieu and Harris stepping in to join old-guard opponents like Warren and Sanders to candidly express the frustration of the left, perhaps their increased combativeness on Twitter will be just as reenergizing to their supporters as Trump’s was to his.

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