Bernie Sanders is putting an end to politics of division sown by a few members of his party against Hillary Clinton. Sanders is telling his supporters to “we don’t want that crap” after spending a lot of time defending the actions of his most ardent supporters in Thursday night’s debate with Hillary Clinton on MSNBC. The hastily scheduled, weeknight prime-time debate featured the clearest contrasts between the two Democrats, but only Sanders faced allegations of intimidation tactics and misleading advertising from the left leaning news network. Today, Sanders took a firm stand on CNN against the rising tide of anger, insult and sometimes from his supporters towards Hillary supporters.
While Sanders seeks to bring fairness back to government, some of his supporters have gone rogue and let their enthusiasm cross the line into name calling and online bullying unbecoming of Bernie’s message of national unity. Famously, Sanders put to bed the rising tide of talk about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and still refuses to attack her for becoming ensnared in the red tape of government which has spawned an investigation of her public service as Secretary of State under President Obama. As if to underscore the random nature of the paper chase Hillary is navigating, both prior Republican Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are being accused of the very same nonsense about their own emails too.
The BernieBros have been much debated, but finally fell into the realm of reported fact over the last couple of weeks, accentuated (of course) by the #berniebros hashtag which Clinton supporters have latched onto, which describes white male supporters of Sanders who push the boundaries of good taste with online name calling and condemnation. The BBC, Buzzfeed and Slate all weighed in with examples of these overeager participants in the Democratic party, but a questioner in a town hall meeting brought the issue to a boil forcing the Sanders campaign to recognize and take action about the situation. In some ways, this is the natural result of a highly competitive race – which, let’s face it, will decide the next President of the United States – where the two candidates tied in Iowa, and will likely be campaigning into the summer. In other ways, it’s a result of Bernie’s uniquely massive support amongst internet savvy millenials which surpasses even the stratospheric reaction amongst youth which propelled Barack Obama into office, and whom he won in Iowa.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton found her redoubt of support in older voters, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering that they’re very reliable voters in primary elections and particularly in the key swing state of Florida whose archaic voting system is run by Republicans for the sole aim of suppressing voter turnout. In fact, Florida voters must register by February 16th to vote in their Presidential Primary on March 15th. Hillary supporters have been far less vocal in the last 6 months as Sanders surged, but the #berniebros backlash has seemed to awaken her silent majority in the wake of her “artful smear” remarks towards Sanders in the last debate which referenced the speaking fees Clinton’s agents obtained for her after leaving the Obama administration in 2012. Clinton pointed out at that debate that every other Secretary of State prior to her – who has been in demand as a speaker – has earned similar speaking fees, while Sanders’ popularity has only recently reached levels where he might be in demand as an orator, though certainly not on Wall Street.
Both candidates agreed on stage that whoever won the Democratic primary the other would support, because there’s no reasonable alternative to extending President Obama’s exemplary handling of the national economy, healthcare and foreign affairs. Bernie Sanders is doing the right thing by telling his supporters to stick to the issues, and Hillary Clinton is probably readying a similar, though less succinct reply in kind.
This just proves that it’s been a long time since Democrats had any reason to oppose each other in a major election, instead of fighting the wacko birds and racists leading the Republican primary.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition