I have a message for those who are frustrated by some of the loudest Bernie Sanders supporters, who are turned off by the so-called “Bernbots” and “Berniebros.”
I hear you.
I really do, because every time a union or progressive organization announces their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, I visit their Facebook page and read some of the most vile, impotent rage this side of a YouTube comment section. It’s only a small part of the comments, but it’s the loudest. It’s gross, and it’s counterproductive.
Please understand that the vast majority of people under 45 — Gen X and Millennials both — have reacted in many ways over the years to American politics, from apathy to mockery to outrage. We’ve had Jon Stewart, Rage Against the Machine, and Occupy Wall Street, but there’s one thing we haven’t had: A candidate.
And now we do, and some of us are understandably losing our collective shit over it and we become insufferable when we see people willing to squander this opportunity to elect a real progressive with consistent solidarity with the regular people. The urgency has gotten the better of our collective judgment… not just a few times, but regularly. It’s an epidemic, which is sad, because part of the reason we appreciate Bernie Sanders so much is because he keeps it classy.
Now, it’s important to note that I’m not sorry for being angry. We should all be angry at this corrupt system, driven by lobbyists and industry leaders. I’m not sorry for being passionate. We should all be fired up over the opportunity to shift our culture and our politics in a direction that works for all of the people. These are natural reactions, and we can express our anger and passion without the vitriol. I’m sorry for the few who’ve taken it too far… but I’m not sorry for being so eager to elect Bernie and constantly shouting it from the rooftops. (NOTE: This paragraph was added after some constructive feedback.)
So I want to apologize and urge you to look at the candidate before you look at the loudest supporters, whose passion boils over in unproductive ways. And when you think “this guy doesn’t understand economics,” consult the actual award-winning economists who stand with him. And when you think “this guy puts too much emphasis on climate change,” consult the Pentagon who released a report about the national security implications of climate change.
Because Bernie’s campaign isn’t trying to appeal to what you think you know. Bernie is the honey badger candidate. He doesn’t give a shit what you think you know. He’s running on solid policy, and only policy. He’s not into pandering or focus groups, and he doesn’t engage in shouting matches, even if some of his backers seem to forget that in their own Facebook diatribes. With a little bit of research, you’ll soon find that his platform stands on its own and there’s no reason for us to resort to harsh words or personal attacks. Many of us need to do better, and today I pledge to add that to my many campaign-related goals in the coming months.
This presidential election, paired up with state and local offices that can create a mandate for a progressive leader, is every bit as important as FDR’s election eighty years ago. I preach a lot on Facebook, but my long-term friends know I’ve never gone all in like this for a single candidate. There’s a reason for that: I’ve never had the opportunity to vote for a man the caliber of Bernie Sanders, and I hope you’re willing to ask questions and learn why, and willing to forgive some of his angrier supporters as they learn to handle the frustrations of a cash-fueled political process.
What I know for sure is that we can win, but we can just as easily lose if we don’t stay relentless. Even more scary is how easily we can lose if we don’t channel the patience and maturity of the candidate himself. As the movement becomes aware of the damage it self-inflicts, I hope you’ll stick around while we reflect and refocus.
And I hope, once you see that side of the campaign, that you’ll consider casting a vote for progress.
SIDE NOTE: For any Bernie supporters stumbling across this article, I’m working on a project with Lorain County for Bernie Sanders to send mailers to hundreds — if not thousands — of residents in the crucial swing state of Ohio. Most of our funding will come out of our own pockets, but some of it will also come from this “Give ’em Hell, Bernie” bumper sticker which you can order for $6 with free shipping in the US. 100% of the money earned will be used for the mailers. Please consider supporting our efforts!