Uggh. Honestly I am so effing sick of this. It would be far healthier for me to just stop looking at the goddamn internet until November. I’m half inclined to just abandon this blog series without finishing it because on the one hand it feels like all I’m doing is adding to the gross infighting that’s going on in the Democratic party right now. Actually, to say the infighting is within the Democratic party is not correct, because from what I observe, most staunch Democrats are of the opinion that, although they probably have a favorite of the 2 Democratic candidates in this race, their main goal (and mine) is simply to ensure the White House stays blue come November, along with pushing Congress back in that direction as well. So rather than Democrat infighting, a more accurate way to describe this situation is a war between the left and the far left. Because a good chunk of the people on the far left side of this are either Independents, like Bernie Sanders, or they’ve just never voted before (to be fair, some are very young people).
But the thing is, there’s a reason I wanted to document this stuff in the first place – This primary race has opened my eyes to a contingent of the left wing that I’ve never been entirely aware existed before now. Of course, the extreme ends of all groups are always a bit cuckoo, that’s just the nature of the concept of being extreme. There have always been contingents of the extreme left who annoy the shit out of me. I’m a reasonable person, and thus I don’t join the cuckoo wing of any endeavor I pursue. Even fangirling, I swear! But this time, in this particular election, because of both social media and general unrest in the country, there are contingents rearing their ugly heads that I haven’t seen before now. There’s one in particular that engages in the disturbing practice of relentlessly harassing people who don’t pass their bizarre “progressive purity” tests. The situation that brought this contingent to my attention involves a group of white men incessantly harassing a black woman for months, based on her career and some past employment. It is … well, wacko. And creepy.
I bring it up here partly because it wasn’t brought to my attention until after I posted my last entry, and partly because watching white “progressive” men harass a black woman feels relevant to both this post and the last one. There’s a lot to unpack there so I might devote a separate post to it rather than trying to address it here. But my point in bringing it up is that it’s crap like that that makes me want to continue documenting the disturbing things I’m observing out there on the interwebs as this primary stretches into eternity. So onward I go.
The “Bro” in “Bernie Bro” is something that is used loosely in most situations because plenty of his stans are women. But in the topic I’m going to cover in this post, the contingent really is mostly actual Bros. As in dudes, I mean. Males. White males. Aggressive, angry white males. They fancy themselves “progressives”, as many of us Democrats do, but they display behavior that seems to conflict with that philosophy.
The topic, boys and girls, is: Flirting with Racism.
Here’s the thing. Team Bernie has a problem, and that problem is the fact that so far, as of this writing, Bernie has had a lot of trouble making significant inroads with African American voters. In the south, black people voted for Hillary over Bernie by an overwhelming margin – he wasn’t able to get more than 15% of the AA vote through most of these states. He did do a little better in the midwest, where he was more in the 30% range. Better, but not awesome. His win rate with Latinos hasn’t been amazing either – He’s lost key states/areas with high Latino populations by significant margins: Texas, Florida, Arizona, Clark County in Nevada. But the polling with Latino voters in various states so far has been questionable, so that trend hasn’t been quite as clear. Either way though, one thing has become clear in the 35 states and territories that have voted thus far – his core ethnic base has been white people.
And in terms of strategy, this puts dear Bernie in a position that is … awkward … at best. Hillary had the same problem in ’08, and I definitely recall that being just as uncomfortable. To come out and say “We’re focusing on the white vote” is never a great look on anyone. At the same time, I do understand that one has to maximize on their strengths, so I’m not faulting Bernie for that. He’s gotta go with what works.
But there’s a point where a situation like this can move from “awkward, but it is what it is” to “oh shit this is starting to feel kinda racist.” Who in particular would be a contingent of people who might be good at pushing it in a direction like that? That’s right: Bros. Here’s the kicker though: In this particular area, the issue has occasionally occurred higher up the chain than I’ve seen other problematic BernBro behavior. Let’s get into it.
Full Disclosure: I, the writer of this post, am a white chick. So obviously I can’t and won’t attempt to comment on how any of these things should be taken from the point of view of African Americans or POC in general. I’ve observed many reactions, but I won’t try to talk about them; I’ll probably link to some at some point. But what I can talk about is how embarrassed I am by the behavior of some of my fellow white people, and I will demonstrate that behavior below.
To give context, Hillary won Iowa by only a hair, and then she got trounced in New Hampshire. She then came back to win Nevada, but by 5 percentage points, so not a huge margin. It wasn’t until the primaries moved to the southern states that she really had her coming out party. She clobbered Bernie in South Carolina and then never looked back when it came to the southern states. It was a clean sweep, including Florida and Texas too. It was right around the time of South Carolina that Team Bernie realized they had a legit issue. While Team Bernie worked to strategize, Team BernBro started to flail and posture. Both teams started to make excuses. Spin – it’s a basic part of any election and all political candidates do it. It’s expected and there’s nothing wrong with it as long as it’s not insulting, nasty, or involving lies so big that they cause the general public to do spit takes. I’ve seen all three in this race so far, but the BernBros can always be counted on to ensure the “insulting” and “nasty” bases are covered.
These first two tweets are from vocal and high-profile Bernie-supporter Michael Moore. They’re not racist so much as they are … well, as the title says, flirting with racism. Of course no one is going to argue that Michael Moore is a racist, but these particular tweets of his are kind of … inadvertently … opening the door for racist bros to stampede through. And that’s why I’m showing them first. They are essentially a gateway drug into racist statements. I’ve followed Michael on Twitter for a couple years now and I like and respect him even though there are times when I don’t agree with him, because he has quite a long history with politics and fighting for the underprivileged. He is the real deal there. No question. He also seems to genuinely like Hillary, just not as much as he likes Bernie. And he loves Bernie so much that he gets a li’l crazy for him sometimes. But for these reasons, I don’t generally lump him into Bro territory, though some of his tweets are definitely bro tweets, when he gets overzealous. The below two tweets are examples of this. For context, this first tweet came in right before Super Tuesday (3/1), which involved many Southern states voting:
Ohhhh k. Here’s the thing. The “red states” argument. It’s what the Bros started with, until Bernie started winning a bunch of red states too (including one on Super Tuesday itself). The idea that red states “don’t matter” in the primary is not only ridiculously false, it also completely dismisses half the states in the country – Including several southern states which have the highest % black population in the US. The primaries are literally the only say that democratic voters who live in these states, many of which in the south are black people, have in electing a president. These southern red states are the key states that led to Obama winning the nomination in ’08. And you’re about to tell these folks the nomination process doesn’t matter, after how close that ’08 primary was?? Who would be president right now if southern states hadn’t voted in the ’08 primary? Not Obama. Yet somehow their votes don’t matter? You’re telling them they’re irrelevant because they’re about to hand your pet candidate a loss? Uhhh… WRONG. And not cute.
And then we have Michael’s tweet from the day after Super Tuesday. Only this time, he puts a different spin on it:
Sigh. No one in their right mind is going to argue what a monumental issue it is that the Republicans are on a relentless mission to deny minorities the right to vote. This is straight up FUCKED and it needs to be stopped ASAP. Come November, we’re going to see it in action and it could very well be a complete disaster. But with Michael’s tweet, in the context of his other tweets, it sounds an awful lot like he’s using (and abusing) a legit issue to try to bizarrely explain his pet candidate’s loss. It makes zero sense whatsoever, given that suppressing the black vote only hurts Hillary (and thus helps Bernie) … but more importantly, he’s using a critical issue in a very self-serving way here. On the bright side, I have no doubt that he is genuinely extremely concerned about this problem, but he needs to talk about it in a much different context than boo-hoo-ing about his pet candidate’s loss.
O.k. Now that we’re done with the gateway drug, let’s get into the hard stuff. You ready? For the most part, I’m going to just try to let these examples stand for themselves, but I’ll make a little comment or two on each.
Level of ignorance in the state, huh “Hanging Chad”? Any correlation there with the ethnicity of the voters, considering that so many of the non-white ones went for Hillary and so many of the white ones went for your man Bern?
I genuinely believe that Wes here has no idea how racist this statement sounds, but when put into context of how white the voters are where Bernie has been winning so far, and how much less white many of Hillary’s voters are on the whole, this sounds pretty racist.
Now, let’s take a deep dive into some straight-up, no holds barred racism, shall we?
Aww. Poor Nathan. Poor white people. It must be terrible to be so oppressed. Why are black people trying to hold us down??
O.k. here’s another variant on the theme, although this one doesn’t fall into the racism category so much as the “ignorant numskull” category. This is an example of a hashtag that is racist by accident, because the people using it are too stupid to know what it really means or the background behind it:
You see, someone thought it would be a peachy keen idea to get out the vote for Bernie in Mississippi on the day of their primary with the hashtag #MississippiBerning. It’s so unbelievably stupid that I almost wonder if the hashtag was created by a troll to see if anyone would fall for it, and they did, because of course. Who knows whether that was the situation or not (I think the idea originated on Reddit – big shock), but regardless, a good number of dumb people used and RTed a hashtag representing a true story of 3 civil rights workers who were murdered by KKK members while working to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi in 1964.
Just, GOD. Facepalm. I know a lot of these people mean well, and it’s great that they are participating in the process, it’s just that this perfectly demonstrates one of my biggest pet peeves in life – People being ignorant and not taking the time to double check shit before spreading it. It’s an issue I’ve seen a LOT with Sanders people – and seems to indicate a larger issue with ignorance about the candidates – which is why I’m going to devote a separate post just to that.
O.k., my next example shows a situation where the tendency to flirt with racism amongst the Bros struck at a level higher up in the food chain than one would be comfortable with. This one isn’t incredibly overt, but it’s playing on the same racist storyline I’ve been demonstrating throughout this post:
Now, here’s the problem with this one: Progressive Democrats of America is a legit organization. It was formed out of the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, and well, here’s more info about it if you’re interested. PDA apparently is supporting Bernie Sanders in this primary. The message in the screenshot above quotes US Congressman Alan Grayson, who pretty quickly publicly denied ever using the term “Confederacy”. Because one would have to be a pretty huge dickhead to dismiss the huge number of black voters who voted in the south as “the Confederacy”. Right? PDA then had to publicly apologize for the statement, but also blocked everyone who voiced their issues with the message on Twitter. It’s just, once again, stupidity, but this time from a disturbingly high-ranking source.
EDIT: Well, would ya look at the timing on this one! Tim Robbins, an official Bernie surrogate, just said this today, and people are NOT impressed. If you’re too lazy to click the link: He said basically the same thing Michael Moore said after Super Tuesday, except he managed to make it sound even MORE rude and offensive to all people of South Carolina and all the southern states, a huge percentage of which are black people. This both pisses me off and helps to validate the annoyance I’ve already had for 1.5 months now. As I said before, this claim is not only pretty racist, it’s just plain wrong and stupid.
How bout I leave you with a couple more sprinkles of “progressive” racism before I end this post?
There’s just … so many levels of … gross. These last two will move us back to lady BernBro territory:
And this last one is a preview into my next post, which will focus on the practice of “Bernsplaining”. In this particular version of Bernsplaining, white people explain to black people how important Bernie Sanders is to the black community and how much he has done for them. It oftentimes involves said white people yelling at black people for not being thankful enough for Bernie’s sacrifices (as we see in the above example). The idiotic practice is embarrassing for all of humanity and hits on another one of my top pet peeves in life: People who act like pompous fools – with the word “fool” being very important here. Because it’s one thing to condescend to someone, but it’s quite another to do so when you literally have no fucking clue what you’re talking about, and when the person you’re condescending to likely knows a hell of a lot more than you do on the topic.
That’s it for now, but Bernsplaining will be coming soon …