Tuesday, January 14, 2020


I encounter a lot of people who can't stand Bernie Sanders and consider him a pestilence on the land. I resented him in 2016 for continuing to insist that the primary race was ongoing long after he had any chance of securing the nomination. But I resented Hillary Clinton for the same thing in 2008, and I got over it. That was a year when Democrats could better afford a threat to party unity -- Barack Obama was popular and a great campaigner, and he had successfully tied the extremely unpopular George W. Bush around John McCain's neck. in 2008, Democrats had the wind at their back. In 2016, they didn't. I've seen the numbers that say there were more Clinton supporters who refused to vote for Obama than Sanders supporters who refused to vote for Clinton. But the margin of error was smaller for Democrats.

Nevertheless, what Sanders did has never struck me as malicious. I know how naive that sounds, and my explanation probably doesn't make it seem less so. Sanders just comes off to me as an East Coast, New York metro area curmudgeon -- a guy who expects human interactions to involve a lot of unpleasant words and disputation, but also expects the bad feelings to pass, or to be shrugged off as just the way people relate to one another even though they're actually friends, colleagues, or allies. I look at Donald Trump or Rudy Giuliani and I see New Yorkers of a different kind: They're really mean. They hate people. They're not joking, and they're not just venting. Sanders seems as if he's just venting. Larry David is absolutely the right person to play him.

But I think far too many of his allies do mean it when they attack anyone who isn't on board with Sanders. I think Sanders fails to recognize how toxic this is because he doesn't personally despise his opponents, and he misreads the utter disgust with which his most fervent supporters talk about opponents as just his own style of deeply expressed but not emotionally deep dissatisfaction.

Whether or not I'm right about this, Sanders does have some serious haters on his team.

I won't go through the list. If you're profoundly anti-Sanders, you know who they are. It's surfacing in the feud between Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Here's the latest, from Politico:
The controversial talking points attacking Elizabeth Warren that Bernie Sanders' campaign deployed were given to teams in at least two early voting states on Friday, three Sanders campaign officials confirmed.

Volunteers and staffers used the script on Saturday while canvassing for votes, meaning the talking points were more official than what Sanders previously suggested after POLITICO reported on the language.

... volunteers were ... equipped with talking points for voters who said they were leaning toward other candidates. In Warren's case, they stated that the “people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that “she's bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”
Also disheartening is the Sanders staffer in the video below -- yes, it's from James O'Keefe, but it sure doesn't look deceptively edited. The staffer, an Iowa field organizer named Kyle Jurek, wants to put everyone in the not-pro-Sanders camp up against the wall, including Warren supporters and much of the Democratic Party. He's a callow armchair-radical dudebro who'd probably run in terror at the first sign of actual violence, but he's still a seriously toxic sonofabitch.

O'Keefe's headlines will give you a sense of what's in the video. This is no distortion:
* Kyle Jurek, Iowa Field Organizer, Sanders Campaign: “I’m Ready to Throw Down Now…The Billionaire Class. The F***ing Media, Pundits. Walk into MSNBC Studios, Drag Those M*****F***ers Out by Their Hair and Light Them on Fire in the Streets.

* Kyle Jurek Suggests That Liberal Democrats Should be Placed in Gulags or be Put to Death: “Liberals Get the F***ing Wall First.”

* Jurek: “Well, I’ll Tell You What in Cuba, What did They do to Reactionaries? You Want to Fight Against the Revolution, You’re Going to Die for it, M*****F***er.”

* Jurek Affirms That “Free Speech Has Repercussions…There Are Consequences for Your F***ing Actions…You Should Expect a Violent Reaction. And You Deserve a Violent Reaction.”

* Jurek Lambasts Elizabeth Warren, Suggests That Warren Does Not Deserve Support Solely Due to Being a Woman.

* Jurek: “Like F**k if We Can Beat Donald Trump, as Long as We Nominated a Woman. Like F***ing Idiot. Like What the F**k? The World is on Fire. This is an Emergency Situation, and You’re Hung Up on Vaginas.”

This isn't just a grumpy airing of grievances. This is bad.

I don't think Sanders grasps how toxic this is. Sanders is a grump. These people aren't grumps -- they're arrogant haters who think the world is divided into those who agree with them and those who aren't fit to live. Sanders seems to me as if he doesn't know the difference.

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