I’ve been an unapologetic shill for Bernie Sanders, writing articles, sending small donations and attending rallies, but after the recent debacle in my home state of Nevada, coupled with undeniable delegate math, it has became clear to me that Bernie cannot win the nomination. It’s sad for his supporters, like me. But what is more troubling is the heated, false and sometimes vile rage coming out of some Bernie supporters, as they grow ever more frustrated at the loss. I’ve worked hard in my own life to embrace progressive values, and the rhetoric coming from some parts of my own community reminds me of the Tea Party.
Bernie should give a rousing speech at the convention and hammer hard at the party platform. He’s changed the conversation for a decade or more, but there is a fine line between supporting a candidate and adopting fact-denying, slanderous behavior that we rightfully condemn when it’s spewed from the right.
I’m from this state and had many friends who attended the Nevada Democratic Convention, both for Hillary and Bernie. I was a precinct captain at the Nevada caucus. When my “side” won the caucus by a card draw, there were no hard feelings. Hillary supporters are my friends, family, coworkers and people I care about. My wife is for Hillary. As I watched the state convention implode, I was just relieved that I didn’t attend. There is no good, none whatsoever that comes from creating more hate and discontent in a nation already drowning in outrage.
Despite my warm, abiding love for Bernie, I can count. Hillary won Nevada, and she won the state convention. She has won more states and votes than my guy. It’s sad, but I’m not a poor loser. Nevada Bernie supporters are furious they weren’t able to wrest more delegates from a state that Sanders lost. We are better than this. Bernie and his movement have done great things, but all the hard word work and his important message will be lost if our country ends up moving backwards because of this petty, intraparty battle.
This sideshow has taken the attention away from the real crazy. In my own state, the GOP had its convention where they chastised a sitting Republican governor for daring to fund schools, called for a repeal of the minimum wage and pushed for a voter ID law. The only thing missing was a party plank to buy an orphanage, kick out the orphans and convert the building into a Chick-fil-A. The debacle at the Democratic Convention took the emphasis off where it should be—on real, honest lunatics.
There’s too much denial, conjecture and nonsense being passed among Sanders supporters. I thought liberals were the voice of evidence and reason? My own, 22-year-old, Bernie-loving son regurgitated conservative talking points to me the other day. “Hillary and Trump are no different,” he said. This is the wet dream of the Trump campaign, to conflate Clinton with an orange buffoon. Hillary has run a good campaign. She is a respected politician with a passionate following—and more votes than my guy. I didn’t escape the Fox News echo chamber just to embrace an equally angry liberal version.
I once wrote that the Sanders revolution reminded me of the Ron Paul campaign, a “revolution” in which I was also deeply enmeshed. Sadly, some Bernie supports would feel right at home at a Paul rally.
Paul is a libertarian-leaning Republican and his supporters were rabid to the point of blindness. They held onto kooky conspiracy theories and an unquenchable rage. Their insistence on purity tore at the foundations of their own ideology. In the end, they hurt no one but themselves. I see too many uncomfortable comparisons between Paul and Sanders supporters. It has become almost a personality cult. Sanders supporters are also in danger of overplaying this moment and doing themselves lasting harm. The Paul movement thought itself invincible, yet whatever happened to that Rand fellow?
The desperation and rage has led to harassment of some super delegates. One supporter was even charged with a felony count of threatening a public servant. We Sanders supporters face a choice about how we will behave. I don’t want to look back in ten years and be ashamed of what we did. The behavior of the losing side means something, and there is still a lot of good that can be done if we seize the moment.
In my own state, Bernie gave a shout-out to Lucy Flores, a Nevada congressional candidate. His support has given a great candidate a real shot at winning. Like so many big movements, Sanders supporters should focus on local and down-ballot races. We can make a difference, but not if we continue to burn Hillary Clinton in effigy.
I do offer a word of advice to Clinton supporters: they should mostly stay out of this. The Sanders supporters have some disappointment to deal with, not unlike the rage expressed by Clinton people after Barack Obama won in 2008. People are upset, and gloating from the Clinton camp can only make it worse.
I understand the rage percolating through the electorate, driving the candidacies of both Sanders and Trump. I’m angry too. I haven’t had a decent raise in years. Our employers often express an attitude that our fundamental humanity can be reduced to a dollar amount. Capitalism is broken and dehumanizing, our democracy is perverted by racism and voter suppression, but are things all bad? Millennials are less religious than ever, gay marriage is accepted by a majority of Americans, and we are arguing about how far left to move the Democratic Party. We’re winning if we don’t manage to shoot ourselves in the crotch. Even if there are reasons for anger, none of my rage or yours will be quenched by a Donald Trump presidency.