About the worst thing I can say about Sanders is that there’s a fringe element of his support base — often known colloquially as Bernie Twitter — that engages in hateful and unethical political attacks on occasion. But Bernie does not encourage that behavior, in sharp contrast to Trump, who models it, praises it and directly encourages it in regular mass rallies with all the trappings of — yes, it’s unmistakable — 20th-century fascism. Much as I personally sometimes dislike the Bernie Bros, I’d far rather see them in proximity to power — alongside the many Sanders supporters who are as fair-minded as anyone you’d meet — than the venal gang surrounding Trump, who manages to inspire them to new lows every time he tweets.
Klein is correct in attributing Never Trump sentiment to matters not of ideology but of “his character, his fitness for office, his lies, his abrasive statements that at times crossed into sexism, and the way his rhetoric portrayed immigrants as disproportionately violent.” The idea that Bernie Sanders reflects any of those maleficent qualities takes false equivalence to whole new levels.
It’s the very lack of equivalence between these two men that makes it a no-brainer for Democrats who may disagree with Sanders on health care or on tax policy, on Israel or on trade, on financial regulation or on the defense budget, to support him strongly if he is the Democratic nominee against Trump. And if Never Trumpers use this false equivalence as an excuse to crawl back into the cramped and foul tent that the president has made of their party, then they deserve the punishment they will earn in defeat or dishonor.