Earlier today Ed wrote about a minor brawl that broke out at a Bernie Sanders rally after a white Sanders supporter told a black Sanders supporter his t-shirt was racist. It’s just the latest sign that Bernie Bros are a special breed of dumb but it’s not the only one we’ve seen recently.
Last week I wrote about the Bernie Bros reaction to a critical statement by Nevada’s powerful culinary union. The union isn’t endorsing anyone in the primary but it put out a flyer which noted that Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would eliminate the health insurance plans the union has negotiated for itself over many years. That brief, factual statement enraged some of Sanders’ fans and resulted in what the union described as viscous threats against female union leaders.
Elizabeth Warren was asked about that situation yesterday and took the opportunity to say Sanders needed to answer for the behavior of his supporters:
“I’ve said before that we are all responsible for what our supporters do, and I think Bernie has a lot of questions to answer here,” Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, said in an interview in which she offered rare criticism of her fellow progressive Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont.
“I am particularly worried about what happened in the attacks on members of the culinary union, particularly on the women in leadership,” Warren said.
Warren went on to say, “The whole notion of publishing their personal addresses, their phone numbers, and then making very aggressive threats against their own safety and the safety of their families. That is not how we build an inclusive Democratic Party…We do not build on a foundation of hate.”
“Foundation of hate” is pretty strong language. But this is more than just a few bad apples. The behavior of Bernie Bros has been a noteworthy element of Sanders’ campaign since 2016. Sanders has denounced the behavior several times, including last week when he said, “Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of my movement.” But no matter how many times he says it, it doesn’t really seem to change anything.
Warren wasn’t the only one to notice the attacks on the culinary union. Joe Biden said Sanders may “not be responsible” but suggested he hasn’t done enough to get control of his more excitable fans. He added that Sanders should investigate and fire anyone who turns out to be a staffer:
“You know me well enough to know if any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them,” Biden said. “The stuff that was said online. The way they threatened these two women who are leaders in that Culinary union. It is outrageous. Just — just go online.”…
Calling attacks “vicious, malicious, misogynistic,” Biden said it wasn’t enough for Sanders to simply disassociate himself from those making them. He needs to “find out who the hell they are, if any of them work for [him]. Fire them.”
“I’m hoping he’s looking. But I tell you what: so far I don’t think it’s sufficient just to say, ‘I disassociate myself,’” he added.
In my view, the real problem is that Sanders is running on a platform of “political revolution” and unabashed socialism backed by a long history of fondness for various real revolutionaries (in Cuba, Nicaragua, etc.). He is playing in the far left’s sandbox and for a portion of those people the revolutionary ideal means winning by any means necessary, even violence. To adopt Warren’s language, real revolutionaries are just fine with a foundation of hate so long as it’s hate for the right things. So it’s no surprise so many of Sander’s die hard fans see extreme behavior in defense of his campaign as a feature not a bug.