Yet no other Democratic candidate has so many venomous followers — no Biden Brothers or Warren Sisters to return fire with fire. The only real analog in U.S. politics today to the Bernie nasties are the Trump nasties. They resemble each other in ways neither side cares to admit.

The most obvious resemblance is the adulation they bestow on their respective champions, whom they treat less as normal politicians than as saviors who deserve uncritical and uncompromising support.

“Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfillment,” the philosopher Eric Hoffer observed in “The True Believer,” a book that remains as relevant in our populist era as it was in the totalitarian one. “Whither they are led is of secondary importance.”

Since it’s the usual destiny of saviors to be persecuted before they’re exalted, the response of their followers often is to persecute back. But persecute whom? In the demonology of most mass movements there is usually a near enemy and a far one, and the near enemy must be dealt with first and hardest.