Bernie Sanders Has Yet to Address the Way Misogyny and Russian Trolling Has Fueled His Movement
I wasn’t going to write this. Every day I think about who Bernie Sanders is and what he represents and I know that before this election he represented issues that I valued. Every day people tell me that only a small fraction of Sanders supporters are monsters. And the rest are great people who just want universal healthcare, affordable college, $15 federal minimum wage.
Yet every day It is non-stop for anyone on the left who supported Hillary or admires Obama and doesn’t pledge allegiance to Sanders. Russian trolls you say? A few bad apples you say? Trump supporters you say? Yeah, some. But plenty of surrogates are basking in the afterglow of being fake-supported by the fake Bernie trolls and the leaders of their movement are doing nothing about it. Going after Joy Reid, for starters, or Joan Walsh. (Always the women, always). It’s disgraceful and self-sabotaging.
They were drawn by anger from Sanders and drawn by anger from Trump. Those who were not angry, who didn’t want to tear down the establishment, but who were grateful for what Obama had achieved and wanted to continue his policies. We tried to beat back that anger and yet it kept coming. It was aimed at her from both sides. The Bernie Sanders movement aimed its anger so fiercely and unrelentingly at Hillary Clinton that Trump didn’t have to do much.
All he had to do was convince those who were THAT angry (mostly white males, but some females) to pay her back by voting for him. That’s how caught up in mass hysteria they were, how manipulated by Putin and Banon and Kushner they were. They voted against the environment, civil rights and civil liberties just to pay “that bitch” back. And they expect reasonable people to join their movement?
It was enough that the GOP had launched an eight-year campaign to obstruct and smear President Obama. When Hillary Clinton rose up to be Obama’s successor, to carry on his policies and remain faithful and loyal to the coalition he built, the Sanders faction acted like a lover scorned. Hillary would pay. Obama would pay. All of their supporters would pay. Once Bernie lost the primary, that was it. The war was on — they were going to defeat the Democrats at all costs. Yes, you heard it right: the Democrats.
The hatred that was aimed at her is still being aimed at Hillary and her supporters, mostly women. I’ve been personally dealing with it for an entire year. Just read the comments on any piece I’ve written here and you will see only a tiny fraction of the vitriol aimed at me in private messages, emails, on Twitter and Facebook. Granted, I do plenty to provoke them, knowing they respond to provocation like hornets. If I could keep quiet about their inflated controversies, like the latest, “Hillary owned slaves,” they might leave me alone. But after an entire year of these confrontations, the fight has turned us into tribes that absolutely hate each other. We’re long past the point of unity when these idiots can boo Tom Perez’ unity tour. And after the spectacle of Hillary-hating slogans that fed Donald Trump his tweets and talking points for the following day, let’s just say the divorce is final.
Any doubt as to their intentions was obliterated with this weekend’s “People’s Summit” in Chicago. They were there for yet another witch burning. The media loves this fight — because pundits are always hungry for more negative news about Hillary. Hour by hour. they ran with that as the lead story, that Bernie Sanders wants to disrupt and destroy the Democratic Party (that he isn’t even a part of) and urges his minions to do the same. The only person who has come out and challenged the misguided notion that the Bernie wing of the party is the only party that matters is Nate Silver, who points out that they aren’t the base, that the Hillary/Obama Democrats are the liberal’s most loyal base — mostly women, mostly non-whites.
Whatever caused their bitterness and failures (and trust me, they will blame anyone but themselves) the worst iteration of their movement has become as much about their hatred as that of Trump’s #MAGA jackals — perhaps it always was. As autocrats have always known, if you can unite people in a shared hatred, you can make them do anything. The hate is non-stop, as though the election never ended and not a single surrogate, not a single leader on Team Bernie says a damn thing about it, as though they are still using hatred of her to drive their movement, just like Trump is doing.
This is a problem for them. It is a big problem for them. You can start a cult with isolationism but you cannot win elections or take over a major party that way. They can hug each other and hold up their lighters for The Bern but get votes and win elections? Ya, not so much. No long term plan there either. Just more “our way or the highway” and “neolib” this, and “corporate democrat that.” All of this disgust just because Hillary Clinton dared to run a better primary than Bernie Sanders. She’s out of the race now and he’s still supposedly in it. So you tell me if it’s a good plan to alienate millions of voters. Gee. That’s a tough one.
These things remain unaddressed by Bernie Sanders and his top supporters:
- The number of Russian trolls dispatched to infiltrate Facebook groups and Twitter. They are still online, still attacking Hillary supporters, still working hard to keep the party divided. The problem is that many of his actual supporters don’t seem to notice or care. They’re allowing this hatred to go on, and are in many cases fanning the flames because the bots and trolls know how to support and reinforce their belief system. Clinton supporters have been systematically alienated from many who see themselves as progressives. Which means the Alt-left can’t win even the most reliable and loyal base of the Democratic party. That is a strategic ploy by Vladimir Putin who has financed a virtual army of poor underlings to sit there and mess with the Democrats all day long. Bernie himself was one of Putin’s puppets only he never seemed to realize it and maybe still doesn’t. No one on their side has the courage to stand up to this because they probably are fine with abuse as long as it goes in one direction.
- The violence and death threats made by Bernie supporters during the primary that got no push-back beyond a few frowns, benign sighs, and lenient eye-rolls, excused because “yah, millennials.” The vicious words aimed at Hillary and her supporters eventually became so disgusting that the only workable solution was to shoo those savages away from the Democratic party. The liberals being targeted for verbal abuse are the most reliable liberal voters and you’re telling them to go away? By contrast, the fickle millennials that Bernie wooed in park rallies did not even turn out — not for Bernie in the primaries, not for Hillary on November 8th. When asked why he did nothing to stop the booing, the spitting, the protests against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders simply shrugged it off. That makes him, to my mind, a sorry excuse for a leader. And certainly not someone I would trust to run this country. If he can’t lead his own movement to higher standards, how could he ever lead 300 million?
- The fact that candidates backed by Bernie aren’t winning the way “the revolution” promised they would has not made them rethink their strategy of alienation or purity tests for candidates, even in areas where they have zero chance of winning. They lose and then they blame the Democrats that they’ve shunned, spit on and alienated.
- They don’t seem to realize that they’re walking into a trap set by the Republicans. The more flaky our candidates, the more overtly socialist — the less likely traditional voters will be to vote for them. Stronger candidates are people like Jon Ossoff and Kamala Harris and Chris Murphy — and the entire Democratic Party when united has the majority. For whatever stupid reason Bernie Sanders messed with that majority. He drove a spike through it because Obama wasn’t good enough for him. And now look. We’re in worse trouble than we ever have been and there is no end in sight. A great ratfucking was had at the Democrats’ expense and yet the most gullible Bernie people just fell for it, without realizing it, believing the fiction sold to them. Steve Bannon knows Bernie better than Bernie knows himself and he’s playing him. The GOP is rightly scared of the real Democrats but with Bernie breaking furniture and making demands, Bannon knows we’re sunk.
- Their inability to let go of their pathological hatred of Hillary Clinton. It’s so bad that anyone who ever worked with her or near her or had dinner with her or associated with her will catch their bizarre wrath. Hillary Clinton deserves a lot better than the treatment she’s getting by Van Jones and others who don’t know how to lose with dignity. And, as it happens, don’t know how to win either. And by the way, she always supported Bernie and was far more kind to him than he deserved with his stupid “let’s re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic platform” debate.
I realize it isn’t fair to focus on the most hateful die-hard Berners when there are so many former Sanders supporters who are out there doing the good work, who pragmatically gave their support to Hillary when she won the nomination, who understand that Trump and the Republicans are our true enemy in the battle for the soul of America. But those good people seem unable to appease the mob on their left flank, nor have they ever been able to reason with the louder more aggressive part of their movement.
The government is about to repeal the ACA?. They don’t care because they’re going for single payer. The government is about to overturn Dodd-Frank? They don’t care because Bernie never liked that anyway.
If the message of the Democratic Party is to be rewritten on Bernie’s terms then most of us will be long gone by the time 2020 rolls around, especially women. If they can’t even control the hatred and misogyny that has infected their movement from the beginning how can they be trusted to lead?
Someday, when their mass hysteria evaporates, they will realize what a huge mistake it was to make Democrats — especially the women and African American activists and anyone loyal to the Obama coalition — their enemy rather than Trump, rather than the billionaires who are calling the shots in Washington. All because Hillary Clinton committed the high crime of getting more votes than Bernie Sanders.