Politics isn’t touch football, as recent Presidential campaigns have shown. When you decide to run for President, your life goes under the microscope so your opponents know where to attack you for maximum effect.
With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, that seems pretty easy, but the Left can’t quite bring themselves to attack him directly on substantive matters. Instead, the focus is on his supporters, colloquially called “Bernie Bros.” Not every Bernie supporter is the same, but there seems to be a common thread with the Bernie Bros that doesn’t help the candidate nor make the Left look good.
Which is why I’m bringing it up in this week’s Leftist Lexicon!
What the Left thinks it means – a group of primarily male Bernie Sanders supporters who act like violent, racist, misogynistic goons whenever anyone criticizes their candidate
What it really means – a group of Bernie Sanders supporters acting like, well, Leftists
Recent populist Leftist movements seemingly come from diverse backgrounds, but beyond the outer wrapper, they share many traits, ranging from a belief capitalism has failed worse than Joe Biden’s ability to know what state he’s in to universal health care to a $15 per hour minimum wage, even suggesting the rich in this country should be held accountable for economic inequality. Some groups like ANTIFA or Occupy Wall Street don’t publicize all of their beliefs, but they’re there in the fine print.
So, which candidate of the past few years has found a way to coalesce the various groups with the same or similar beliefs? Why, it’s Bernie Sanders, America’s favorite Grandpa (next to Grandpas Jones, Simpson, and Munster, of course)! And with that combination of grassroots support comes the various negatives of said groups. You know, like violence, sexism, and general buffoonery?
This is not to say all Bernie supporter act like the Bernie Bros. Many are good people who just want a new direction and fairness for all across the board. (Oddly enough, many of them also haven’t passed Econ 101, but that’s not important right now.) As with any group of political supporters, there are going to be scumbags and bad hombres. Donald Trump has them, Joe Biden has them, even Hillary Clinton had them. (This latter group was called “Hillary’s 2016 Presidential Campaign Staff.”) And now Bernie has them, thanks to the Bernie Bros.
And just like with ANTIFA and Occupy Wall Street, the Left has little or nothing to say about the Bernie Bros because these group represent potential Leftist voters. So, they plead ignorance or try to deflect the criticism by invoking Donald Trump and MAGA supporters who “did worse.” The problem is…well, the Bernie Bros have not only done worse, but more frequently and with larger political implications. The Left paints Trump supporters like uneducated troglodytes who are threatened by anything that could interfere with their ways of life. They’re set in their ways and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a better (i.e. progressive) future. In some cases, the Left has Trump supporters pegged. Now, what if I told you the Bernie Bros are a variation on that theme?
Bernie Bros have verbally attacked women, blacks, gays, and others who either disagree directly with Bernie’s positions or who don’t actively agree with them. They paint anyone who isn’t slurping the Kool Aid like the enemy. There is no middle ground with them; it’s their way or the highway.
Hmmm…sounds eerily like…the way the Left describes Trump supporters! Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNN!
The politically damaging part comes at the ballot box. The more Bernie Bros act up and get called out on it, the harder it gets for Bernie to gain traction in the communities affected by the Bernie Bros’ behavior. If the choice in November is between Trump and Sanders, there will be a number of voters in the aforementioned blocs that would either not vote or vote for someone other than Bernie. If the former occurs, it hurts Democrats down ticket by siphoning votes away from preferred candidates. Want to keep the House and take the Senate and White House in November? That ain’t the way to do it!
On a larger scale, the Bernie Bros present a unique challenge. As much as the Left tries to brush boorish behavior by trustworthy Leftists under the rug, they really can’t do that with the Bernie Bros. For one, the Left still doesn’t understand internet and social media culture as well as they think. Just having a Twitter handle and an Instagram account doesn’t make you PewDiePie. Just because you have the tools doesn’t mean you know how to use them, and as we’ve seen with the 2020 Democratic Clown Car, they’re treating everything like a nail (which would be great if their only tools were hammers, but they’re packing Whiffle bats).
To his credit, Sanders has disavowed supporters who treat others poorly (albeit he didn’t call them out by name like President Trump did with white supremacists). But until the Bernie Bros realize the jerks he was disavowing were themselves, they aren’t going to change, and the Left isn’t going to make them because they value the White House more than the rhetorical structural integrity of their platform. No matter how much the Left hates Donald Trump, it’s hard to defeat him when the guy running against him has supporters who actively dissent from stated Leftist ideology when it suits their needs.
Leftists not being good long-term thinkers. Who saw that coming?
In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch Bernie Sanders simultaneously support progressive causes while accepting support from people whose support for said causes are tied more to him than to the causes themselves. Bernie Bros aren’t the albatross around his neck; they’re the millstone around the neck of the albatross around his neck, and Bernie’s wearing cement galoshes.