Bernie Sanders is a tireless advocate for the working poor. Unless you give his campaign donations. Bernie Sanders is for Universal Healthcare. Except when he’s voting or writing bills. Bernie Sanders wants to see fewer guns on the street. But he’ll support the NRA at every turn. Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken advocate of immigration reform. Except between the years 2007 and 2015 where he repeatedly said that immigrants were coming to steal American jobs, open borders are ethically wrong, indefinite detention of immigrants is permissible, and supported the “Minutemen.” Bernie Sanders is a feminist. But women’s rights are a distraction, women are only engaging in identity politics when they run for office, are the causes of their own cancers, and probably enjoy being raped.
Now, I’m supposed to ignore all of this because it’s Bernie Sanders and he’s “evolved.” But has he? Some of these incidents are quite old but hardly all and he has reiterated some of his more questionable statements.
For example, just a few days ago Sanders expressed admiration of Fidel Castro’s education plan. That’s a bit like saying Hitler had a great youth program. And yes, I understand he was trying to get people to like Castro for the communism rather than all the murder and autocracy, but … really? I mean, at this point why *not* just talk about Hitler’s youth program? Hitler was about as much of a socialist as Bernie is. And before you run down to the comment section and tell me how Jewish Sanders is remember he accused AIPAC of being an organization dedicated to “bigotry.” In response, some 347 rabbis signed a letter denouncing Sanders’ comments. Sanders, per usual, is not attending the AIPAC conference because as we all know international diplomacy concerning the future of Palestine and Israel and the forging of peaceful discussion and negotiation in the Middle East is a waste of time for a would be Presidential candidate.
In case it wasn’t clear that last was sarcasm. I’m being sarcastic. Did it work? I’m autistic, so I’m not actually sure.
The other thing Sanders can’t be asked to attend is events commemorating MLKs Selma march during which Rep. John Lewis was injured. As we are repeatedly told, Sanders briefly joined the original, but actually no he didn’t. Sanders participated in the March on Washington in August 1963. He has no other instance or record of civil rights work besides that event.
But this is all par for the course, you may say. So why am I so mad now? Well, it’s a bit of a story so buckle up. We’ve had four primary contests so far. We had Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Sanders won New Hampshire and Nevada despite browbeating the Culinary Union in the latter. But he lost Iowa and REALLY lost South Carolina. I put it this way because Pete Buttigieg of all people squeaked out a super narrow win in Iowa and did so largely because Sanders underperformed there and Biden REALLY underperformed there.
But South Carolina was a blowout. The race was called super early because Biden was so far ahead and his lead just increased as the votes were tallied. Biden ended up with about a thirty point lead despite a concerted and well publicised effort by the Republicans to vote for Bernie Sanders. Sanders ended up with less than 20% of the vote and there’s a pretty good chance that most or at least a decent number of those are from Republicans in donkey suits.
So following both his narrow loss in Iowa and his landslide loss in South Carolina Bernie Sanders graciously congratulated the winners of the respective races and encouraged his supporters to behave in a tolerant and pro-democracy manner.
Lols, I’m kidding.
No, Sanders contested the results in Iowa, did not protest when (CW for the link on the word “homophobic.” The text is calling it out but it includes the offending image) deeply homophobic tweets and posts started flooding social media sites from his followers, did not denounce “Operation Chaos,” and has been silent on the extreme racism coming from his camp in the wake of his South Carolina blowout.
Apparently, I’m supposed to ignore that Sanders supporters referred to African-Americans as monkeys and rats and repeatedly called them stupid because some Sanders supporters are Hispanic. But this defence really highlights what’s wrong with Bernie Sanders, his movement, and their understanding of racism.
To be clear, racism is something we’re trying to end. It is largely the fault of white people, but people of color do also variously punch down. It is not, however, possible to be racist against white people because there is no institutional mechanism for discrimination against white people. One can be suspicious of white people or prejudiced against white people but it is not possible to be racist against a white person because white people enjoy systemic privileges. Same goes for sexism and sometimes homophobia although your results will vary with both of those depending on factors like historical acceptance and inter-sectional identities.
The real irony of the Bernie Sanders movement is how willing they are to point out or accuse others of racism while simultaneously maintaining that 1. “Kamala is a cop,” 2. Harris as a black woman is sexually promiscuous and also not smart (I won’t provide a link to this particular episode of misogynoir but if you must know search for “heels up Harris,”) and 3. that black people only vote the way they do because [poorly thought-out transition] Obama. All of that is deeply racist for reasons I rather hope I don’t need to explain, but I’ve seen this from Bernie Sanders’ supporters on multiple different platforms and definitely from different people because when they get this bad I usually spaz block them.
BernieBros will be the first to clutch their pearls in shock and rage and claim racism when their candidate is vetted. My Jewish friends have been called anti-Semites, my black friends have been called “Uncle Tom,” and “Auntie,” and far worse, Asians and Hispanics are patronisingly informed that they’re not real Americans. I’m regularly accused of racism for backing them up because supposedly the existence of people of color in Sanders’ movement not only screens Sanders from criticism of his own history of questionable acts, but also means any criticism of Sanders or his supporters is by default uniformly and inherently racist. When BernieBros are on the defensive, not only do they use racist language and use people of color in their movement more or less as human shields but they’ll in one breath claim that Sanders is not responsible for bad behaviour and that it’s all coming from Russia and in the very next tell me that I am a “disrespectful c**t.”
But this isn’t just a mild annoyance where pointing out wrongdoing means a string of awful vitriol from the next white man in line. That’s more or less the everyday life of women and people of color. The problem here is that BernieBros are actively trying to reinforce a racist system. To BernieBros racism and the accusation of racism are cudgels to be wielded against their dear leader’s detractors. Neither they nor Bernie Sanders himself have any desire to upend white supremacy because Bernie Sanders and most of his supporters directly benefit from it.
Remember, talk though he will about the “establishment,” Bernie Sanders has been an elected official for over thirty years now. He’s a US Senator. And he got there doing and saying some really questionable stuff and relying heavily on his white male privilege. Bernie Sanders IS establishment. When people talk about taking down “the man,” said “the man,” is basically Bernie Sanders. Strip away his power, his gender, and his skin color and all you’re left with is an angry, lazy person, of middling intelligence who thinks anyone who disagrees with him is morally corrupt. In any other package besides “white man,” he’d be struggling to hold down a dead-end job. But as a white man he’s actually a serious contender for President.
And that, ladies, gentlemen, skeletally indeterminate, and pangender is white supremacy for you. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are hoping that they can skate to victory on the impotent rage of other mediocre white men. Racism to them isn’t a problem to be solved but a weapon to be used and an accusation to be slung. It’s a means to an end where the end is more racism.