Shit got all crazy in Nevada. Some people threw chairs (or maybe they just waved them in the air), others sent threatening misogynistic and terroristic voicemails and texts to the head of the Nevada Democratic Party.
Here’s the thing. Even though these were supporters of Bernie Sanders, I don’t consider them in any way representative of Bernie Sanders’ supporters. Politics is full of cranks. I used to do a Sunday feature of all the hate email I got until Twitter made that obsolete. Now I get them on Twitter. All sorts of hateful messages. The Secret Service is tasked in large part with following up with people making threats against the president. This is politics and people get mad and do really stupid shit.
I don’t think that has anything to do with “Bernie Sanders’ supporters.” They are a problem, but they aren’t the problem. Make sense?
The problem is Bernie Sanders himself, who as a leader refuses to forcefully and unambiguously reject that violence, instead rationalizing and explaining it away with a mix of grievances and outright conspiracy theory. The same guy who once said, “Mr. Trump should take responsibility for addressing his supporters’ violent actions,” now can’t be bothered to do the same when it’s a few rotten apples in his crowd acting insane.
To say this is stunning is an understatement. All movements are infused with a little bit of crazy, it’s the leadership’s job to marginalize it. Otherwise, you get the Tea Party—you indulge the crazy fringe, bad things happen. You indulge people who can’t keep passions in check, you damage your broader efforts and your own personal image. Armando may be one of my favorite people online, and a genuine and true friend, but several years ago when he … ahem…. hit a rough patch and kinda lost it, I banned him. (Lucky for me, and hopefully for you, he’s now back and better than ever!) Several other front page writers have suffered the ban hammer as well.
My point is, none of those decisions were easy, or agreeable. They were gut-wrenching for me. I lost sleep over them. But my own personal friendships and feelings of solidarity were trumped by disruptive and destructive behavior that threatened to undermine what I was building.
Yet here is Bernie Sanders doubling down on his destructive approach, still refusing to call out the few bad apples, and vowing a scorched-earth campaign to the convention. Because maybe then the superdelegates will see the wisdom of overturning the democratic will of the voters in favor of the toddler stomping his feet and throwing a tantrum? What the hell?
Oh, I saw the responses; Sanders never said he wanted to hurt Clinton, that’s just a dishonest paraphrase of a New York Times reporter! And yes, that happens often in the world of journalism. A very plausible possibility! If only there was a way for Sanders to set the record straight if that reporter mischaracterized his campaign’s intent. You know, some kind of instantaneous mass medium that would immediately inform millions of his true feelings …
So I checked Twitter, and of course, nothing.
And why would he correct something he so clearly believes? He’s been talking “revolution” for so long that it’s clear he actually believes in it … in the literal sense of the word. He didn’t forcefully condemn the violence in Nevada because revolutions are violent. He doesn’t care about the will of the Democratic electorate because revolutions aren’t democratic elections.
At this point, his entire message is “Nice party you got there, sure would be a shame if something happened to it!” So hey superdelegates, toss aside the will of the electorate because otherwise he’ll burn the place down. Viva la revolución! So screw your math and your numbers!
AUDIE CORNISH: But if he has to win 68 percent of all the delegates going forward, in all the races, and he falls short of that — you know, do you have an obligation to be honest about what his path is?
JEFF WEAVER: Well, no, but see, but that’s a media narrative from people who think that politics is just standing at a board, doing mathematics. But it’s much more than that
(Insert stupefied silence, eyes wide in disbelief, a couple of blinks ...)
In actuality, the primary system has been rigged in Sanders’ favor—giving him far more delegates than his share of the popular vote would suggest—so perhaps that might explain their confusion about math. Heck, his entire early boost came from two of the most unrepresentative states in the country, in a party that is the most diverse.
And when even those advantages aren’t enough, they outright lie about their chances. Sanders’ campaign manager literally says he doesn’t have to be honest to his supporters. “Do you have an obligation to be honest about what his path is?” Answer: “Well, no.”
So here you have this amazing group of passionate activists, having fought for Bernie for so long, suddenly being lumped in with violent dead-enders and math ignoramuses. It’s not Bernie Sanders’ name being besmirched, it’s that of so many good people I know who are now forced to apologize for their candidate (or worse, try to rationalize it).
I already hear the response: “Thanks for your concern, Kos!” But yes, I am concerned. Because I actually believe in much of what Sanders supported, even if he was never a good vehicle to deliver that message. He proved that there is a hunger for strong liberalism and has given a future generation of Democrats an opening to continue the fight. That’s amazing shit, and something that every Sanders supporter should be proud of because this is about issues, right?
I sure hope it wasn’t a cult of personality focused on Bernie Sanders. He was never going to win, and sure as hell he never connected with key party demographics. But if this is a true movement, then keep fighting for candidates that pick up the mantle! THAT I want to see and encourage. And it makes it very hard to do so if all of Bernie’s supporters are painted with a broad brush of “violent cranks.”
To reiterate, yes, those violent cranks existed. They exist everywhere. Some Sanders supporters are assholes. Guess what? Some Clinton supporters are violent assholes too!
When Donald Trump applauded the violent thugs at his rallies, he became a violent thug himself. Sanders is now no different, and that’s distressing.
Our primary was once a substantive, welcome contrast to the shitfest on the Right. Now, Sanders is doing everything he can to be the sore loser Trump once promised to be.