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Bernie Sanders's Most Fervent Supporters Are Not Helping

Bernie

It was going pretty okay there for a bit. It was heated at times, it was contentious, but it was largely amicable. The candidates debated the issues, they discussed their goals, they tried to get their issues heard, and they played nice. Well, that went to shit in a hurry now didn’t it?

I guess things changed when the polls for Iowa, the state that most accurately reflects America as a whole (/S), weren’t looking great for folks. Now it’s all gone to hell and all the candidates are starting to throw dirt and trash talk each other. This means that the candidates are following their supporters lead and behaving like spoiled children. None so more than Bernie Sanders fans.

Look, I’m gonna be blunt. I don’t like Sanders and think the most vocal of his fans are absolute trash. I know I implied in the opening paragraph that I didn’t care much for the divisive trash talking, but there is a difference between being competitive in an election and being outright hostile and threatening. Since Bernie Sanders showed up on the national scene, I have seen people get doxxed by supporters, sexually harassed, called “traitors” to their sexual and racial minority by straight white men, and his supporters mirror Trump’s most vitriolic supporters under the guise of “progress.” Yes, I said it. I stand by it, and I will die on this hill.

First off, do not even bring up Clinton fans at all. Yeah, they were dedicated and still are, but none of them said that Bernie Sanders should shut up and go knit when he lost the nomination. The sheer audacity of people to tell a former First Lady, senator, Secretary of State, and presidential popular vote winner to sit down and shut up is mind blowing, especially since no one ever said that to John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, or any of the other failed Democratic candidates for the past 40 years. She has every right to speak her damn mind and you can honestly get the hell over that fact. The fact that Bernie lost in the primary in 2016 and his delegates spent more time booing everyone who took to the convention stage who wasn’t their supporter is mindblowing. Even Sanders advocate Sarah Silverman called their behavior ridiculous. Why? Because it was. It’s still ridiculous.

The fact that these same people who howled about Clinton in 2016 are saying we need to unite behind Sanders before he’s won a single primary is absolutely insane. In fact, more than a few big brain Sanders-supporting pundits on Twitter have said that if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination this time they will outright not vote for the Democratic candidate. All I can say to that as a transgender person who has lost rights, who actually cares about those migrant and refugee children being abused in prison camps on the border is, “F YOU.”

I continue to be floored by some Sanders supporters' online behavior. When I criticized the Sanders-supporting podcast Chapo Trap House, I was harassed for almost a week, receiving numerous private messages insulting me. I had the few videos of me performing that I had posted online, and weren’t linked to other accounts, get downvoted and insulting comments posted on them. I had more than one thread on their Reddit group created about me. What makes this so much worse, is this isn’t even other online randos. These are “reporters” who are blatant Sanders surrogates hunting down these people’s private details — but for what purpose? What does knowing their names and where they work serve you other than to harass them in their private lives? Nothing.

Doxxing private individuals online because they criticize Sanders so you can harass them is not only disgusting, it’s authoritarian. The only other time I have ever had behavior like that happen to me online was when I criticized Dave Chappelle and those people were largely rightwing MAGA goons who were now Chappelle fans because he was offending the “cuck” libtards. These actions run parallel to some of the most toxic Sanders supporters: I don’t recall many conservatives saying Pete Buttigieg’s homosexuality was fake and he was a bad gay, but I can recall some Sanders supporters saying as much.

Tons of Sanders surrogates claim Sanders should be the candidate because he is able to build a movement. What movement? A group of online trolls who harass and insult people? People who outright threaten to throw the election to Trump if they don’t win? This movement of people who harass women, insult LGBTQ people, call racial minorities “traitors”? A group of folks who smear anyone who disagree as corrupt, present distorted facts, imply they work for the CIA in a reflection of Trumpian “Deep State” fear mongering?

A major factor in building a movement is being accountable for the people who join it. If Bernie Sanders is aware of this behavior and condones it, what does that say about him? If Sanders is unaware of this behavior that goes all the way up to his own campaign staff and his major surrogates, what does that say about his ability to be a leader? Harry Truman, an “outsider” Democrat who became president, once had a sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here,” meaning he was accountable for everything in his administration. Of course I pointed this out online once and a Sanders supporter decided to go off about the atomic bombing of Japan to try to “take down” a man who’s been dead for decades. The irony that Truman took full accountability and responsibility for the bombing was lost on him.

If Sanders is the candidate in November, I’ll vote for him because I’m not a petulantly cruel person, but I won’t like it. I won’t like it mostly because the bullies and trolls will think their behavior was righteous and justified will be complete. What good will it be for a Democrat to win, while we forfeit our basic human decency? 

Amanda Kerri is an Oklahoma-based writer and comedian, a regular contributor to The Advocate, and a former board member for Oklahoma City Pride. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.          

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