Millennial Rage: My fellow Dems, drop this false Bernie-or-Bust narrative
The narrative of the Bernie-or-bust movement as one of petulant voters who do not understand the party and electoral system is one that the Democratic Party and their members needs to stop peddling.
We are entering the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and the slate of speakers for the latter two nights is just as full as the first two. However, the discussion of the first two days of festivities has not been centered solely on the speakers (as good as they were) or the official nomination of Hillary Clinton (as historically monumental as it was).
The drama surrounding Bernie and his most loyal delegates has been on full display as the national media has broadcasted the tensions. On the first night, which pushed for party unity, the displeasure and heckling by Bernie delegates could be heard throughout the early parts of the evening. This ultimately culminated after Clinton’s official nomination-by-acclamation, when many of the Bernie delegates walked out of the convention hall in protest, and staged a sit-in at the media tent at the Wells Fargo Center.
Subsequently, the main stream media and some of my fellow Democrats have voiced the same-old depiction of the more loyal Bernie supporters: that they are apparently petulant children who don’t care if they burn the Democratic Party to the ground.
This narrative first sprung up during the primary campaign, after the emergence of the Bernie or Bust movement, which was as much a show of support for Bernie Sanders as it was a declaration of mistrust of Clinton based on her history of altered positions on the national stage.
So, for all those Democrats who are just baffled or the ones who continue to push the disparaging “Bernie bros” narrative, I ask you how this posture works to “unify the party” or to bring in these Bernie voters (many of them independent)?
After all, in the days before the convention, the Wikileaks release of DNC emails proved a long-held suspicion of the Sanders campaign and his supporters that Debbie Wasserman Shultz and the DNC leadership were tipping the scales against the insurgent senator from Vermont.
Many Bernie delegates in the hall could be seen plastering tape over their mouths with “Silenced” or “Silenced by the DNC” written across the tape.
These truths speak to the main thrust behind the Bernie or Bust movement: the Democratic Party — and politicians like Hillary Clinton — have been unresponsive for too long to their constituents in regards to trade, employment, and the environment. This is why the Bernie delegates voiced their displeasure at the mentioning of Clinton and vice presidential pick Tim Kaine, both of whom have a history of working closely with Wall Street interests and supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal at one point or another.
This feeling of being silenced and being ignored also played itself out in the non-verbal protests of the delegates as they held anti-TPP signs, pasted tape across their mouths in few of cameras, and eventually walked out and sat-in on Day 2.
This feeling of disaffection with the political process is the point of Bernie or Bust, and it should be the focus of the Democratic Party and their supporters moving forward. If the populist insurgency of the Trump candidacy and the Bernie campaign proved anything, it is that this election will hinge on who best speaks to this vast feeling of abandonment in the working class.
The gesture of highlighting the far-left and progressive movements with the Day 1 speakers (including Senator Sanders) was nice, but it really did nothing to address the real issue here. You can see that with the subsequent booing of Sanders himself when he called for his delegates to throw their support behind Clinton.
So while, the depiction of Bernie or Bust people as petulant idealists worked for the party establishment to win the primaries, it will do nothing to bring them into the fold for the general election. This is why it is essential that Democrats start being real and rational about the notion behind this movement.