Here's what #NeverTrump and #WhichHillary have in common

A few days ago #WhichHillary was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. It got going after a young activist associated with Black Lives Matter interrupted a Clinton fundraiser and unfurled a sign with the hashtag on it. Most of the people using it seemed to be Bernie Sanders fans who remain less than impressed with Hillary Clinton’s record on various issues including mass incarceration, gay marriage, the Iraq War, etc. The hashtag was a way to push back on Clinton’s sense of inevitability and to point out that she doesn’t always seem deeply committed to party’s core ideals.

Not everyone agrees with that assessment obviously. Clinton’s supporters have been pushing back on the hashtag for the last two days, but there is clearly a sizable portion of the party that feels she is less ideologically pure (or less honest) than Sanders.

Today the top hashtag on Twitter is #NeverTrump. Just like the Hillary hashtag, this seems to be a moment for those within the party to express their strongly-felt displeasure with the current front-runner. People using the hashtag seem to be a mix of Rubio supporters (and Rubio himself), Trump supporters pushing back and people on the left and right who just dislike Trump and are happy to see him take fire. Here’s a small sample of the more than 460,000 tweets published so far:

Maybe it’s a coincidence that #WhichHillary and #NeverTrump arose with a few days of each other, but something about these hashtags reminds me of the “last exit for x miles” sign you sometimes see before a long, barren stretch of highway. The time to change the direction the parties are headed hasn’t run out yet but with Super Tuesday approaching it’s definitely getting closer. For the moment, both parties are struggling to choose between a less-ideologically pure front-runner (Trump and Clinton) and a candidate (Sanders) or candidates (Cruz and Rubio) who has a track record more in step with the party’s core beliefs but who seems less electable.

There is one obvious difference in the hashtags of course. Sanders fans seem to be jockeying for their preferred candidate without ruling out that they could support some (appropriately chastened) version of Hillary in the future. Those rejecting Trump today, including Marco Rubio, seem to be making a more categorical statement: #NeverTrump.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023